Today the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority (Savannah JDA) in partnership with existing industries released the results of the Regional Workforce Study conducted by Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting, LLC (WDGC). The study’s goal was to identify the labor supply challenges facing the Savannah region’s industrial employers and develop initiatives that will minimize the exposure to existing and future supply shortfalls. The scope of the study included a market analysis, identifying needs and challenges and providing a strategic workforce plan.
The key takeaways from the study include:
- Overall, labor supply is extremely tight in the region.
- Competitive pay and enhancing employee retention have been increasingly important.
- Future demand will vary annually, but top needs will continue to be technical and production roles.
- Workforce development initiatives must work to draw more high school graduates into industries including manufacturing.
- Available labor from annual military departures is underutilized.
- The Savannah region has a number of workforce strengths and several challenges.
- Regional employers must take a more active role in addressing workforce challenges.
“Much like the United States as a whole, the Savannah region is experiencing record low unemployment which creates employment challenges,” said Savannah JDA Chairman of the Board of Directors Carter Infinger. “This study and the accompanying plan give us a roadmap to help companies that are already located in the region and those that will locate in the future.“
One of the findings of the study is that job needs are anticipated to be a ramp up over a nine-year period with peak years for hiring in 2024 and 2025. The study also found that by 2025, industrial labor supply will fall short of meeting the demand.
In 2025, it is estimated that the region will be in deficit of 1,454 industrial employees. In 2026, that number grows to 1,968 industrial employee deficit with the peak being in 2027 with 2,206 employee deficit.
“As a region, there are several critical issues that we must move forward on and address immediately. We have already rolled up our sleeves and are hard at work, but it is going to take regional coordination, engagement and partnership,” said Savannah Economic Development Authority President and CEO Trip Tollison.
Several delegates recently returned from Bowling Green, Kentucky, which was identified in the study as a best practices community.
“It is clear that the collaboration between community business partners and the educational system in Bowling Green is working for everyone. My big takeaway is that we need to continue aligning our efforts in K-12, from developing soft skills to technical skills, to meet the needs of our students and workforce. These folks clearly have it figured out and that confirms for me that we are headed in the right direction but have extra steps to take if we want to succeed like they have,” said Bulloch County Schools Superintendent Charles Willson.
Effingham College and Career Academy CEO Todd Wall said, “The Warren County School System and Bowling Green Independent School System are facing the same growth that we find in our area. It was a welcoming conversation with school administration and school officials on some of the programs and ideas that are in place to help the schools meet the needs of the workforce. It was good to see all stakeholders; the school system, city council, chamber, and business and industry coming together to support the educational system. The partnerships between all the involved entities will help by supporting the needs and programs of the local school systems and ensure they are preparing students for careers in their community.”
The workforce development plan recommended the following:
- A forum that includes HR best practices for recruiting and retaining employees, addressing childcare as well as programs and initiatives that improve labor supply.
- Six task forces that address:
- Military Resources
- Underrepresented Workforce Pipeline
- Education Resources
- Talent Attraction Marketing Strategy
The executive summary and additional information can be found at savananhjda.com/workforce. Additional details about the workforce development plan will be announced in January 2024.
More information can be found at savannahjda.com/workforce.
Nov. 14, 2023