ConxusNEO launches with mission to better connect job seekers, employers
Sue Lacy is on cloud nine. She should be. As head of the new Summit County talent initiative ConxusNEO, her efforts to revamp the old Summit Workforce Solutions, along with the help of the Fund for Our Economic Future and many others, have been receiving much media praise since its launch on March 15. But the attention, while helpful in spreading the word and drumming up interest from potential new partners, isn’t the whole point. By all accounts, the collaboration among businesses, public schools, education and training organizations, nonprofits, and others that grew out of a review of the talent needs of Summit County, is working as intended.
ConxusNEO— like its name suggests — is about connecting work to prosperity. Its purpose is to create a demand-driven, data-informed talent system in Summit County. How does it do this? First, ConxusNEO partners with companies to identify high-demand skills and occupations by reviewing and discussing reliable labor market data. This often brings competitors together to develop strategies that build a talent pipeline the entire community can access. Education and training partners engage with companies to align curriculum to prepare career seekers for the skills most needed, and community partners help career seekers get on the right path and address barriers.
The data also identify and inform actions that can have the biggest impact on system outcomes. Cross-sector networks, including the Summit County Manufacturing Network, TalentNEO (a skills-based hiring pilot), and TechHire (a White House initiative to establish accelerated IT skills training that leads to full-time jobs) are the primary point of engagement for stakeholders. ConxusNEO helps partners develop a common language, shared goals and aligned strategies that help companies be more competitive and residents access a sustainable living wage. In other words, ConxusNEO is about creating both Growth & Opportunity.
That sounds like a tall order. But the nonprofit already has engaged dozens of companies that are guiding ConxusNEO’s strategy; it has strong public sector support from leaders, including Summit County Council President Ilene Shapiro, County Executive Russ Pry and Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan; and it is helping educators and community organizations, including Akron Public Schools, Stark State University, University of Akron, and the United Way of Summit County, take actions to better meet the demands of the talent market.
How does Lacy summarize its formula for success? “We are informed, agile and deeply committed to generating results,” she said.
The Fund for Our Economic Future and its Summit-based members, including GAR Foundation and the Akron Community Foundation, helped catalyze the formation of ConxusNEO by paying for an assessment of the talent development system in Summit County, and then coordinating a process led by County Executive Pry that engaged cross-sector leaders to identify how to improve the performance of the system. Chris Thompson, director of regional engagement for the Fund, coordinated that process and continues to provide assistance to ConxusNEO’s leadership. The launch of ConxusNEO is part of the Fund’s G&O: Akron initiative, funded in part by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
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“Conexus Launches With Mission to Better Connect Job Seekers, Employers.” Growth & Opportunity News. Fund for Our Economic Future. Retrieved from http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1117034688219&ca=07d9e043-3abe-429b-a673-e04ec81bff29 (7 Apr. 2016).