LACONIA — It’s an employee’s job market right now, and local employers might find themselves stealing talented workers from each other, all while struggling to attract enough new help to allow their business to grow.

But what if competitors could become collaborators, solving the employee problem to allow everyone to grow? That’s the idea behind an event that the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce is planning for Wednesday, March 20.

“Managing the Talent Pipeline” will feature speakers and discussion groups and, said Karmen Gifford, president of the chamber, will result in actions that improve the availability of critical workers for local industries.

“The idea is to get them to the table and say, ‘I’m frustrated, I’m willing to consider doing something different,’” Gifford said.

Gifford’s intention is for representatives of different industries to determine what critical needs they have in common. For example, it’s known that there’s a widespread nursing shortage, but perhaps the various health care providers in the region find that they all have trouble finding nurses with particular skills. Then, that information can be relayed to Lakes Region Community College, which could create a certificate program to provide people with those skills. Local nurses could earn that certificate and further their careers, and health care providers would be better able to serve their patients.

“Wherever I go, I hear questions and concerns about having skilled workers. That’s a topic that is not just current, but will continue to be a challenge for us as a region for the foreseeable future,” said Larissa Baia, president of Lakes Region Community College.

The forum on March 20, at LRCC, will be held from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Guest speakers include New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and, from the Huot Technical Center in Laconia, Dave Warrender.

After the talks, attendees will break into conversation groups divided by industry. What they will likely find, Gifford said, is they share common needs with their competitors.

“We want to engage communication and to develop conversations, bring together similar initiatives, identify other issues related to the talent pipeline challenge with solutions that can be implemented and measured,” Gifford said. She will also introduce a system developed by the US Chamber of Commerce to identify, manage and measure such efforts.

The challenge, especially for small businesses, is one of scale, said Baia. A business might have a need for two or three workers with a particular skill, which isn’t enough of a demand for the college to develop a custom program. But if there are several businesses in the same boat, then the college might be able help.

“We are always trying to be as open as possible to listening to the needs of our partners, particularly our industry partners,” Baia said. “We have a level of flexibility that allows us to respond to industry needs that four-year institutions aren’t necessarily able to do.”

“I think it will be a great conversation,” Baia said, adding that she expects changes to be made as a result.

There’s no fee to participate in the discussion, and Gifford said the event is open to the business community at large, not just chamber members.

“My focus is people that represent businesses that are hiring,” Gifford said.

To RSVP, go to www.lakesregionchamber.org.

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