Cape Fear Collective partnered with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and over 50 regional organizations to launch a regional analysis of the workforce and employment challenges in the Cape Fear region, a six-county region that makes up Southeastern North Carolina. Approximately 500 employers across multiple industries responded to the survey.
RTI International conducted the survey and presented the data at the Wilmington Chamber’s September 1 event. A full report of the survey may be downloaded above. Please also visit this link to view the presentation from RTI in its entirety.
The survey had several objectives including:
- Understand both short and long-term hiring needs
- Inform training and education providers of the needs of the current workforce
- Provide workforce information for policy makers
- Develop an effective cradle-to-career talent pipeline
- Create an efficient structure for ongoing industry feedback
The survey was originally designed in 2017 by Wake County Economic Development (a program of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce) City of Raleigh and the Capital Area Workforce Development Board to capture data on hiring, skills, credentials and recruiting networks.
MyFutureNC Partnership and ‘Cradle to Career’ Data Collection
In partnership with the MyFutureNC Initiative and the New Hanover County School District, Cape Fear Collective is supporting efforts to promote data collection and sharing through the a statewide ‘cradle to career’ dashboard. We will continue to collaborate through the MyFutureNC Initiative as Cape Fear Collective begins to move our region’s workforce development and attainment collective impact initiative forward.
By The Numbers
- Nearly 500 Cape Fear employers surveyed.
- 56% expecting growth in the next three years.
- Estimated 9,600 to 17,500 new jobs added in the next three years.
- Cape Fear region is growing by 12,000 people per year.
- Employers surveyed find room for improvement in the regional talent pipeline ranking it a 2.9 on average on a scale from 1 to 5.
The regional skills survey was originally designed to capture data on hiring, skills, credentials and recruiting networks. It took on a new meaning in 2020 as the Cape Fear region struggles with high job losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers forward-looking data on what a potential jobs recovery will look like and guidance on how it will vary by industry sectors and job types. While the data shows that the Cape Fear region will continue to grow in the next three years, growth will likely be slower and be uneven, as certain industries grow faster than others.
SURVEY KEY THEMES
Businesses are looking to expand:
The pandemic and its economic fallout drove unemployment into double digits in the first half of 2020 and while many industries have been hit hard, there are some industries planning for growth. Of the companies surveyed, almost 56 percent expect to grow their workforce in the next three years, while 41 percent expect to maintain the same number of staff and only three percent anticipate downsizing. These responses offer optimism that businesses are looking toward economic recovery.
Companies planning for growth anticipate hiring between 9,600 and 17,500 new employees in the next three years. The largest hiring numbers are in Healthcare (5,600), Professional Services (2,600) and IT and Software (2,200).
High growth industries:
The projections for growth vary greatly across industries, offering evidence that the recovery from this economic crisis will be uneven. Companies in Life Science (86%), IT and Software (73%) and Logistics (71%) have the most optimistic outlook on hiring in the future, while those in healthcare project the most hires in the next three years.
Mixed demand for on-the-job training, degrees, and technical education:
Community college programs and professional certificates are the most sought-after credential in hiring, followed closely by four-year degrees. Most employers anticipate providing their current employees on-the-job training, with continuing education at universities and community colleges as a somewhat distant second choice.
Missing qualities and soft skills:
Across industries, employers report having the most difficulty hiring candidates who demonstrate responsibility and self-discipline, critical thinking and the ability to take initiative. When asked which industry-specific skills they value, employers across sectors ranked communication abilities at or near the top.
Improvement needed in opinion of talent pipeline:
Employers rated the quality of the local talent pipeline as 2.9 on average out of 5. While this evaluation is more positive than negative, it shows that most employers see room for improvement. Those in retail, healthcare and the public sector viewed the pipeline most positively, while the construction sector gave it the lowest quality rating.
Sourcing talent from networks:
Most employers surveyed still rely on friends and networks to find new employees. This tendency could impede efforts to hire diverse talent. Connecting highly-skilled and diverse talent to jobs will require a new approach to recruiting in the future.
- Businesses are looking to expand
- Companies in Life Science, IT and Software and Logistics have the most optimistic outlook on hiring
- Mixed demand for on-the-job training, degrees and technical education
- Employers report having difficulty hiring candidates who demonstrate responsibility and self-discipline, critical thinking and the ability to take initiative
- Regional talent pipeline has room for improvement
- Majority of employers are sourcing talent from friends and networks
Cape Fear Collective, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and over 50 regional partner organizations* collaborated with RTI International to conduct a workforce skills analysis. These partners helped recruit employers in our region to complete the survey. We appreciate their collaboration and look forward to working collectively in response to the data.
The survey was originally developed by Wake County Economic Development (a program of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce), the City of Raleigh and Capital Area Workforce Development Board in 2017. We could not have brought this survey to our region without their collaboration.
African American Business Council (AABC), acouncil of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Bladen Community College
Bon’s Eye Marketing
Brunswick Business & Industry Development
Brunswick Community College
Burgaw Area Chamber of Commerce
Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance
Cape Fear Community College
Cape Fear Workforce Development Board
Capital Area Workforce Development Board
Carolinas Associated General Contractors (AGC)
Carolinas Energy Workforce Consortium
Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) at UNCW
City of Raleigh
City of Wilmington
Columbus County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism
Copycat Print Shop
Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board, Inc.
Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce
Greater Wilmington Business Journal
Latin American Business Council (LABC), a council of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Live Oak Bank
Lower Cape Fear Human Resource Association
Lumber River Workforce Development Board
Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington (NEW)
New Hanover County
New Hanover County Schools
New Hanover Regional Medical Center
North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce
North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE)
Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce
Rotary Club of Wilmington West
Southeastern Community College
Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce
The Honor Foundation
Wake County Economic Development, a program of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau
Wilmington Business Development
Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Wrightsville Beach Chamber of Commerce
University of North Carolina Wilmington
Please contact Meaghan Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org if your organization is interested in a more detailed presentation of the findings.
*Cape Fear Collective attempted to capture each partner that supported this initiative. If your organization has been mistakenly omitted above, please contact Meaghan Lewis at email@example.com.
Recording of Cape Fear Talent Reveal - Wilmington Chamber of Commerce
Survey Shows Some Businesses Optimistic About Future Hiring - Greater Wilmington Business Journal