A Real-Time View of a Region’s Talent Supply

By Staff Report

Nov. 17, 2008

Four years ago, officials at the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York were thrilled to learn that New York City-based AXA Financial was considering moving its service operations from Secaucus, New Jersey, to their area.

The association, which is made up of 200 local employers, had been struggling to create job growth in the region. So they were justifiably excited when they first heard of AXA’s new office in Syracuse and the 300 jobs that came along with it.

When AXA officials asked for data that would demonstrate the region has a pool of talent to facilitate the new office, Frank Caliva, the association’s director of talent initiatives, knew he had to act fast.

“They needed to know that we had a pipeline of marketing people, accountants and lawyers,” he says. “We got the data together, but it took a full seven business days.”

While AXA ultimately opened its office in Syracuse, Caliva and his team started looking at ways they could more quickly provide talent-pipeline data to prospective employers.

Now it seems they have found it. The association is implementing a new Web-based tool that will enable it to provide companies with real-time data on what talent the region has and what talent needs to be developed, Caliva says.
The tool, developed by Kingston, Tennessee-based Worldwide Interactive Network, enables users to tap 70 databases, including government and university databases, to provide a real-time snapshot of a region’s workforce and workforce needs.

“Frankly, we were getting outmaneuvered by other states that could get this data faster,” Caliva says. “But this software will help us be more competitive.”

The software, which is two years old, isn’t yet available to private employers. But it has been implemented by regional entities in Alabama and Tennessee and by the Department of Commerce in South Carolina, says Teresa Chasteen, president of Worldwide Interactive Network.

The WIN Strategic Compass is designed to help public entities, such as states and universities, not only understand what skills they have, but what talents need to be developed, Chasteen says.

“Our goal is to connect economic development and education through a workforce delivery system,” Chasteen says. She notes that many universities have told her the software would help cut research time by 60 percent.

Employers want this kind of information before they relocate or expand into an area, but getting it on a real-time basis is unheard of, says Jamie Hale, director of workforce planning at Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

“We get a lot of requests from clients asking about what the demand versus supply is of certain skill sets in areas they are looking to enter,” she says.

—Jessica Marquez

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