Labor is supply and demand

By Stan Jennings, - Superintendent - Scioto County Career Technical Center

Workforce is defined as the labor pool in employment, and many components make up that workforce. We know there are blue-white and grey color jobs. We know that regions and the needs of the citizens in that region dictate what employment positions are available. Further: we know that emerging technologies and skillsets that drive those technologies are key to creating the needs within that employment base. But what creates success for the employees in that network, especially within the new economies of the emerging and ever changing structure of workforce need? What dictates success and what are the needs of that employee to make themselves successful?

A key here is the ratios of needs to persons in a labor pool. This need may be measured nationally, state-wide or locally, and each has its’ own unique needs and variation ratio. So when we look into the base of needs, what drives the common employer needs and what type of individuals does that employer need? A trend that has been consistent over the course of the past 50 plus years is the ratio 1: 2: 7. With 1: representing the individuals classically trained with Masters level University plus education (generally considered white collar). 2: representing individuals with University credentials and related educational experiences (also generally white collar). And 7: with something other than University: with a minimum of 56% of those needing some form of skillset development and related licensure (generally blue collar).

Supply and demand affects these numbers with some locales requiring more University graduates and others requiring more skilled trades. This then aligns to the white versus blue versus grey color positions in both need and logical development of any workforce. Simplistically: the more the education and training is given the more the enrichment for the individual in the network may be; but, if there are too many or too few individuals aligned within the practical employment need for the region, misalignment occurs. An example: when we do not have enough skilled tradespeople to manufacture materials then the marketplace generally encourages some of the persons from the other levels of employment to retrain for the purpose of satisfying the need (grey collar). Conversely if we have too few high level learners moving into the manufacturing field or not attempting to become of that employment base then we have a gap there. These misalignments are generally referred to as skills gaps and economically stymie the growth and delay positive movement of the related citizenry.

Simplistically: all fields need various workers and as such each requires ratios appropriate to needs within their respective fields.

By Stan Jennings,


Scioto County Career Technical Center