When Rahm Emanuel takes over as mayor next week, Edward E. Gordon will be pushing his long-running theme: Chicago isn't facing a shortage of jobs as much as a shortage of skilled workers.
Gordon, author of Winning the Global Talent Showdown: How Businesses and Communities Can Partner to Rebuild the Jobs Pipeline, points to a May 3 article by Sun-Times technology writer Sandra Guy that reported Chicago's technology companies are trying to lure employees with everything from free fully loaded computers to an expenses-paid work week at a Michigan beach house to Lollapalooza-themed parties.
"There's a rising tide of jobs, but we can't fill them," says Gordon, who lives on the Near North Side.
Rising costs in China and India are leading to "re-shoring," the return of jobs that had been sent overseas. But Chicago isn't training a sufficient number of new workers to take advantage of that, Gordon says.
Gordon sits on the board of Austin Polytechnical Academy on the West Side, a college and career prep high school with a focus on manufacturing and engineering. He's also been going around the country helping to set up "talent innovation networks," of which there now are more than 1,000 - all trying to reinvent the work force. The challenge: training enough new workers to fill the manufacturing, technical and engineering jobs that are opening up in the United States.
Follow BackTalk on Twitter@stbacktalk