The Unique Position of a Chamber: Making National Initiatives Locally Relevant

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Arizona State University, Tempe
© 2019 Getty Images


Instead of trying to keep up with the pace of change, we’re getting ahead of it by modernizing where we work.
We encourage other chambers of commerce to embrace the unique position that a chamber is in to lead these efforts.

Keeping up with the pace of change in today’s economy is getting harder and harder to do. So instead of trying desperately to keep up, we’re getting ahead of it by helping change the face of the landscape in which we work entirely. 

For the past few years, we have been on the front lines, proactively leading efforts in Arizona to solve the greatest pain point of the business community: finding qualified talent for their workforce in a dynamic economy. Though this skills gap has been an issue for decades, only recently have we learned enough to put action-oriented, business-led solutions in place to start to solve this complex challenge. 

The first step in this process involved a partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to convene industry leaders and educators to identify and define the gaps between employer expectations and student outcomes. Business leaders were convinced educators were at fault for lacking talent pipelines, and educators felt they weren’t getting clear information from employers about what they needed. Communication is the crux of the problem.

We started implementing demand-driven Talent Pipeline Management™ (TPM) strategies and have seen real results. We are breaking down traditional silos that have existed in the talent marketplace for generations. 

Harnessing the core principle of TPM, our team worked with our Cybersecurity Workforce Collaborative to develop a standard list of skills, minimum requirements, and terminology that could be used in a universal way across the industry for similar positions. 

What we ended up doing was the analog equivalent of the Chamber Foundation’s newly-launched Job Data Exchange™ (JDX). Something that the JDX could have done very quickly and efficiently took us six months. We had excellent results, but we’re probably already outdated. And going through that exercise again is time intensive and quickly becomes irrelevant.

Opening up the Data

The second step of the process was joining the Chamber Foundation for the pilot phase of the JDX, where we will work with colleagues from across industries to co-design and test this innovative new approach to opening up and standardizing labor market data. The business community will be able to make the most of advances in technology and data standardization to transform how it organizes and communicates hiring requirements to critical stakeholders in the talent marketplace for the jobs it relies on most to compete and grow. 

The JDX is a set of open data resources for employers and HR technology partners to use as a tool to improve how they communicate the skills and competencies they need to education, training, and hiring partners. A modern-day Rosetta Stone to translate and decode what skills employers seek for their workforce.

“In 2019, we will complete the rollout of TPM across our Cybersecurity Workforce Collaborative and our similarly structured Hospital Workforce Collaborative. We are committed to working with these industry leaders to collect job descriptions that support the development of standardized language for each industry as a part of the JDX pilot,” Jennifer Mellor, Chief Innovation Officer of the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation explains. 

The analysis of these job descriptions, along with gathering key information from participating businesses and their HR technology vendors, will begin the process in standardizing employer needs. The next phase includes bringing our education partners into the conversation to ensure that their curriculum reflects the standardized industry language and standards. 

We are excited to again participate as an early adopter of one of the Chamber Foundation’s innovative initiatives – this time, the JDX. We are confident that this model will enhance Arizona’s workforce and, ultimately, the workforce of the country as JDX expands.

Our Call to Action

As a chamber of commerce dedicated to these workforce development efforts, we have been able to successfully serve as a bridge between industry leaders and educators to ensure that Arizona’s talent pipeline meets the needs of our growing economy.

We encourage other chambers of commerce across the country to embrace the unique position that a chamber is in to lead these efforts in a community, and leverage the work we’re doing with the Chamber Foundation to build the tools that will make it easier to drive change.