A new report from the Allegheny Conference on Community Development predicts a workforce shortfall of 80,000 employees in the Pittsburgh region in a decade.
The study recommends greater efforts to attract and retain recent college graduates, and more collaboration between employers and educators to train future workers for the projected job market.
The Allegheny Conference took the number of regional college grads who are likely to stay in the Pittsburgh area and compared it with the number of current workers likely to retire, while factoring in projected job growth.
The mathematics were not encouraging. Since about half of college and trade school grads in the 10-county region will leave after finishing school, there will be more job openings than available employees. About 29,000 workers are projected to retire in the region each year for the next 10 years.
“We are on the precipice only because of the pending number of imminent retirements due to the mature workforce that we have here in western Pennsylvania,” said Dmitri Shiry, chair of the conference’s “demand analysis” initiative.
Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky said he’s confident that local higher education institutions will be civic-minded enough to adapt to local workforce needs.
"I don't see any institution overnight making wholesale changes, but I do see them thinking about demographic changes," Yablonsky said.
Yablonsky said while educators need to adjust their curricula, local employers need to be willing to hire new workers fresh out of school.
"Employers in the region need to step up and begin hiring entry level graduates from these institutions," Yablonsky said, instead of demanding three to five years of experience for entry-level jobs.
Having a viable job market is crucial to attracting and retaining millennials in the Pittsburgh area, according to James Reddish of the Council of Adult and Experiential Learning, one of the agencies that helped produce the report.
"You guys actually do have some great buzz nationally... (but) no one's going to move to Pittsburgh and sleep on a couch for six months like they would in Austin or Portland," Reddish said. "Momentum is a fragile thing, so it's important to keep it going."
Allegheny Conference officials said they had plans to begin a marketing campaign meant to attract young college graduates to southwestern Pennsylvania.
Yablonsky said his organization would present the findings of the report, titled "Inflection Point," to large gatherings of businesses, higher education institutions and politicians in each of the 10 counties studied.