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Using skills to strengthen regions

Continuing the research that we first presented in The New Geography of Skil, we now show how speaking the common language of skills can bring educators, companies, and workforce/economic developers together to address the talent needs of a specific region or industry. By combining broad labor market data with more nuanced skills cluster data, we provide a snapshot of the existing strengths – and the shifting landscape – of a key regional industry and demonstrate how this data can inform local talent strategies. To illustrate this idea, we identify talent gaps that affect Minnesota’s medical device manufacturers and compare the state’s unique regional strengths with those of the same industry in California – revealing stark differences that can occur from place to place. Applying this highly granular data, Minnesota can then develop the right skills-focused programs to strengthen and diversify the in-demand skills that ultimately retain medical device companies and keep the regional economy strong. To keep higher education, workforce/economic development, and strategic human resource organizations aligned and valuable to the people they serve, we recommend that this data be used in four very clear and practical ways: Step 1: Know your strengths and look to diversify; Step 2: Identify competitive opportunities for upskilling; Step 3: Strengthen the local talent pipeline; and Step 4: Develop in-demand microcredentials.