Study finds success in meshing workforce training with employer needs

The Job Opportunity Investment Network has released a study showing investment in workforce training brings greater returns when it’s tied closely to employer needs.

“For every dollar that an employer invests [in workforce training] they see returns of about $400 to $450 over five years. So, for every dollar, they’re going to receive $400 in return,” says JOIN director Jennie Sparandara.

More jobs today require post-secondary education and additional skills. But 73 percent of residents in the Philadelphia region have only a high school degree or less education. That’s a problem for businesses as well as those who can’t find work, Sparandara said.

“Here we’re looking at employers who’ve got those jobs, but we need ways to get people at the right skill level,” she said.

Employees see about a quarter of that return, but can earn a lot more if training is long term, and ends with a degree or certificate.

While it’s typical to track how many people get training, Sparandara said her organization wants to think about outcomes for workers and employers. She notes it’s also important to make the case for training in times of tight budgets and cost cutting.

JOIN measured how well different types of training might help to bridge that gap. It found the biggest gains for employees when employers were directly involved in training, helping prioritize specific skills.

Northeast Philly’s Computer Components Corporation, which makes products from sheet metal, was one of the subjects of the study. Its vice president of operations, Frank Cettina, said his workers needed new skills when his company landed a contract requiring advanced welding techniques.

“We did welding training that focused on high frequency welding of aluminum materials. We trained five people in that.amazing turnaround,” Cettina said. “The quality of the welding got so much better.”

“It not only helped us retain that business, but it helped us gain more of that business,” he said.

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