MDB Insight Blog


Stronger Together: Regional Workforce Development

#WednesdayswithMDBinsight –This week Trudy Parsons, EVP, shares thoughts about the benefits of regional workforce development.

I often read targeted strategies designed to strengthen and support the engagement and integration of youth, mature workers, immigrants, and other populations. It excites me to learn that customized strategies that address the unique challenges of specific populations are being rolled out and it’s even more exciting to see the positive impact that these strategies have on aligning these talent pools with local employment opportunities. After all, that’s why we are all so passionate about our work!

However, there is significant value in looking beyond any one specific target group to ensure that there is a multi-pronged approach to addressing overall labour supply and demand. It has been my experience as I work with communities across the country that those applying a broader and more inclusive approach to workforce planning are better positioned to respond to the battle for talent. Labour markets need talent across all skill levels, utilizing all populations that want to actively participate in the workforce. This is where a broader workforce strategy can have significant importance as it considers the labour needs within the local or regional economy, positions labour force participation of multiple populations, and identifies synergies for initiatives that are multi-purpose. It is this regional approach to workforce strategy that helps bring collaboration and resources together towards a common goal that is not specific to only one population. 

Just as there are many aspects to economic development – from investment attraction and placemaking efforts to downtown revitalization and business retention and expansion – workforce development has many elements.  Yet, while it’s standard for municipalities to have an overarching economic development strategy (and then targeted plans for specific economic development projects) many regions and even provinces/territories are without an overall plan for workforce development. This limits the benefits to be realized from a broader approach and can result in narrowly defined “mini strategies” that are working at odds within the broader planning landscape.

As with any solid strategic planning initiative, a vision-driven approach to workforce development ensures that vital planning objectives and broader development initiatives are thoughtfully integrated as workforce needs and opportunities are considered. And, importantly, this approach reinforces the potential for an overall workforce development strategy to serve as a launch pad for more focused strategies – with vision as the constant dominator, allowing all activities and initiatives to be anchored in meaningful fundamentals. 

The Greater Moncton Regional Workforce Strategy is a good example of this. In addition to the objectives set by the 3+ Economic Development Corporation and its partners, the Municipalities of Dieppe, Moncton, and Riverview, the regional strategy presents opportunities for collaboration that support targeted strategies such as the immigration strategy

Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania recognized that shifting economies, global competitiveness, and the immense speed by which technology is advancing were all contributing to the increasing employer demand for higher skill and education levels as they sought to recruit talent.  Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation and Workforce Board Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) selected MDB Insight to carry out a comprehensive and extensive research and strategic planning initiative to ensure the Lehigh Valley has a talent pipeline that meets the current and future needs of its key economic sectors. The resulting workforce strategy serves as a road map to enable the region to develop workforce development and education strategies that support efforts to establish a continuous talent pipeline within the Lehigh Valley and ensure a competitive and sustainable economy.  

An overall workforce development strategy offers important context for the projects that a community might undertake to address both workforce and economic development objectives. From labour market intelligence to recruitment and retention efforts, these projects stand to return greater benefit if pursued within an integrated planning context.

To learn more about Trudy and the rest of our team, go to

Trudy 2018-2Our Wednesdays with MDB Insight posts (#WednesdayswithMDBInsight) feature the thinkers and doers on our team sharing ideas and talking about what’s important to us as professionals. We have very diverse backgrounds and a range of interests to share with you. We hope you’re enjoying these posts and that you will join the conversation with us and let us know what’s on your mind mid-week.

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