ACCD working group chair Dmitri Shiry (left) moderates panel on Inflection Point. Image courtesy of ACCD.

Our region will soon be facing a talent shortage estimated to be 80,000 by the year 2025.

Yesterday, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD) released Inflection Point: Supply, Demand and the Future of Work in the Pittsburgh Region, a unique, comprehensive look at how the region’s workforce would transform over the next 10 years.

The report outlines how the business and education community will need to prepare new generations of workers for the massive swell of jobs left open by retiring Baby Boomers each year, as well as new jobs created by emerging industries.

“We know we have a challenge with an aging demographic, we know there’s unemployment,” says Laura Fisher, senior VP of ACCD workforce and special projects. “We know work is changing, but we don’t really know enough to be effectively proactive, so let’s take a look at what we can learn about for the next decade.”

Produced in collaboration with the Boston-based market analytics company Burning Glass Technologies, the report compiles data pulled from focus groups with 130 CEOs and human resource professionals, and an in-depth examination of thousands of job postings from across the Pittsburgh region. Altogether, the findings conclude that 29,000 workers will retire annually, while the region will need an additional 8,000 skilled workers annually to fill the nearly 34,000 new and existing jobs opportunities opening each year.

To prevent this anticipated deficit, Inflection Point calls on area employers, educators and policymakers to immediately rethink their approaches to retaining and attracting talent. The report suggests investing in existing workers by increasing their skill levels, training the region’s unemployed and under-employed, and recruiting students from regional K-12 schools, colleges and other post-secondary training institutions. One recommendation is for employers to start hiring our college grads straight out of school in order to retain talent.

The report also stresses how the region’s workforce will change as the demand for some positions increases, while others disappear. Fisher explains that many jobs will cease being viable career options as they become skills “embedded in a larger and more complex job.”

“One of the things that the report looks at is the challenge of many people feeling they should be pursuing a four-year degree no matter what, even if they don’t necessarily know where the jobs are,” says Fisher. “Part of the point of the report is to show where the real demand is from which you can then map a training pathway.”

To steer new job seekers in the right direction, ACCD will develop a digital career awareness hub to help students from K-12 and post-secondary institutions visualize career paths to in-demand jobs in the region.

Over time, the organization will also update Inflection Point and make the information readily available to the public.

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.