That’s the word from Dr. Robert Eyler, professor of economics at Sonoma State University and the Marin Economic Forum’s chief economist. Eyler was among the speakers at an MEF event that centered on “Workforce Challenges and the Future of Work,” drawing more than 300 local business leaders to the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael.
“How many of you are looking at your stock market portfolio everyday?” Eyler asked the crowd, urging local business leaders to avoid letting market volatility dictate their business decisions. “Don’t do that. It’s very tough not to get sucked into that vortex, but if you do, you’ll make an emotional decision – think and plan forward.”
Eyler acknowledged that global and national themes, from trade wars and the UK’s Brexit from the European Union to the recent government shutdown and the fight over building a wall across a portion of the southwestern U.S. border, impact Marin and the North Bay from a macroeconomic standpoint.
But with a solid labor market – Marin’s unemployment rate is at a whopping 2.2 percent – the local impact of a recession won’t likely make its way here until 2021, Eyler said. That said, the continued impact of fires in Northern California and throughout the state, as well as the seemingly ubiquitous struggle to create workforce housing and reduce commute times, remain the biggest blow the regional economy must sustain, according to Eyler.
Hiring, from hospitality and food service to life sciences, medical technicians and web developers, remains Marin’s biggest challenge because of the aforementioned housing issues, he added.
Eyler was joined on the dais by a number of people at the forefront of the effort to train and attract the future workforce of the North Bay. “Those communities that figure out the talent pipeline are those that will win and the take the next step forward,” said Bruce Wilson, the executive director of the Workforce Alliance of the North Bay.
Elizabeth Pratt, the dean of the career and technical education and economic workforce development at the College of Marin, said a broad cross section of businesses and institutions are focused on stocking that pipeline.
“To have a thriving workforce, it’s important that all of these programs are working in lockstep,” she said. “We’ve made great strides toward creating more opportunities for our students and helping your business.”
“Workforce development is not a social service – it is a service to economic development,” Eyler added.
Craig Nelson, board chair of the eponymous hiring and staffing giant, encouraged companies to combat the tight hiring market through a variety of strategies, from improving their employer brands on sites like Glassdoor.com and creating internal referral programs to providing flexible work schedules as needed and, of course, paying competitive wages.
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NOTE: Speaking of the hiring crunch, the MV Chamber and the City of Mill Valley are co-hosting a Mill Valley Job Fair on Tuesday, April 23, 3:30-6:30pm at the MV Community Center, 180 Camino Alto. Interested in participating as an employer? Email us here.