N.J. firm will try to match area job skills to market

April 30, 1997


Staff Writer

A coalition of regional economic development agencies has hired a New Jersey consultant to find out what job skills area residents have and how well those skills meet the needs of business and industry.

Corplan will conduct the six-week, $20,000 study in Washington County, Md., Franklin County, Pa., Berkeley County, W.Va., and Winchester-Frederick County, Va. It is expected to be finished in early June.

The information gathered by Corplan will be used by QUADCO, a four-state economic development coalition, and QUADTEC, the Quad State Technology and Manufacturing consortium headquartered in Hagerstown.


The two organizations plan to use the data to plan worker training, retraining and education programs, and as a marketing tool to lure business to the four-county area along the Interstate 81 corridor.

The Corplan study is expected to fill a gap left by a 1995 study that outlined a strategy for developing a strong technology-based economy in the region, but didn't look at existing work skills of residents.

At a press conference in Hagerstown on Tuesday, Corplan President L. Clinton Hoch said his company will contact businesses, schools, unions, employment agencies and the Fort Ritchie and Letterkenny reuse committees in an attempt to get a handle on the local labor market.

The study will focus on underemployment - people who aren't fully using their skills, part-timers looking for full-time work, and commuters who have to leave the area to get good jobs with decent wages.

Hoch said his staff will interview people who worked at local plants that closed or moved to get an idea of what skills those displaced workers have.

The study will identify the best business prospects for the region and tell officials what type of skilled workers they will need, Hoch said.

QUADTEC Executive Director William J. Sullivan II said once the study is complete, his agency and QUADCO will monitor area jobless rates, skill levels and economic conditions.

Once QUADCO and QUADTEC have underemployment and skills data, they may have an edge in attracting industry and business to the region, Hoch said.

"All the employers in the country want to know where the skills are, and basically that data doesn't exist. QUADCO will have that data," he said.

Of 22,000 agencies in the U.S. vying for new business and industry, few are regional, Hoch said.

"It is very unusual to find four counties...working together for a common purpose," he said.

Hoch and Sullivan said QUADCO's goal is not to convert the area to a service-based industry, but to keep the existing manufacturer base in place and attract new high-tech industry.

The Herald-Mail Articles