Chad T. Ahern
Vermont's Workforce Future
At the end of 2015, Art Woolf published this article in Burlington Free Press detailing the rise in the number of jobs and the decline in size of the labor force here in Vermont.
The rise in jobs indicates that there is a rise in the amount of work to do. You typically don’t establish a new position unless there is work for that person to do. At the same time, there are fewer people to do all the work necessary.
To solve this dilemma, I would argue there are three basic solutions:
Increase the size of the labor force. More people = adequate workforce. It’s a nice idea; unfortunately, according to this report from the Public Assets Institute, Vermont is seeing its workforce “age out,” and its efforts to attract a growing number of younger workers fail (see pages 22 and 23 in particular).
Decrease or stabilize the workload. Not ideal, but we would hopefully avoid burning-out our state’s employees & employers. This solution will likely have the undesirable effect of stagnating Vermont’s economy even further.
Become more efficient.. Vermont’s businesses, non-profits, and organizations will need to find new ways to produce more from the same population. Putting aside efficiency found by improving our tools and our surroundings, I would argue that a new age of efficiency can be found by applying the ABCD’s of Strength-Based Leadership (focus near the end of this article).
Since the first two solutions are unlikely in the immediate future, I hold onto hope that Vermont re-embraces its "New Englander, entrepreneurial, can-do", attitude to redefine what 21st century work-teams look like, how we utilize the best of people, and what it means to work and thrive in the Green Mountain State.