Tackling Workforce Shortages: Solutions and Creative Ideas, with Liza Ochsendorf

Episode 344

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Liza Ochsendorf is the Director of Workforce Development for Warren County, NY. She oversees the county operations of WIOA Title programs in the Warren County Career Center and works closely with local and regional partners to address barriers to employment, such as child care, housing, transportation, skill deficits, etc. Her work addressing local industry needs has led to stronger private-public sector partnerships to problem-solve collaboratively for short and long-term solutions to workforce challenges.

Her passion for workforce development and economic development is rooted in community collaboration, effective communication, and clear goals and desired outcomes for all stakeholders. Liza has 14 years of experience working in education in Washington, DC, where she oversaw Life Skills programs and was instrumental in implementing restorative practices to build community and improve student outcomes.

Liza is a graduate of Syracuse University and resides in Glens Falls, where she serves on the Board of Directors for the Tri-County United Way, the Executive Board for the Saratoga-North Country Continuum of Care, the Park Theater Foundation Board of Directors, and is a member of Greater Capital Region Women United.

On this Destination on the Left episode, I talk with Liza Ochsendorf, who shares her insights into managing the current workforce shortage. She highlights some of the creative ways that she is helping her community address workforce shortages and the ways she is helping hospitality businesses reach the youth population, improve retention, and help with training to feed the workforce pipeline in the hospitality industry.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The importance of youth involvement in job fairs and workforce development
  • Why we should be rethinking job postings and descriptions to focus on skills rather than only experience
  • How we can embrace AI and automation in the workforce for those tasks that don’t need a human touch
  • Ways DMOs can overcome barriers for people with disabilities, justice-impacted individuals, and veterans to enter employment
  • Liza also shares some of her creative strategies for addressing long-term workforce shortages, including incorporating flexibility and hybrid work schedules in roles

The Challenge of Long-Term Workforce Shortages

Liza highlights the long-term challenge of workforce shortages, which are not only a result of the pandemic but also due to factors such as the younger generation having fewer children than currently retiring baby boomers. Liza emphasizes that the common narrative suggesting people don’t want to work isn’t true, as the data shows that the labor participation rate has actually recovered and is currently at its highest point since January 2007.

She explains that the pandemic has caused a shift in people’s work preferences, with a greater desire for flexibility and hybrid work schedules. As a result, there has been a decrease in people working in public-facing industries and an increase in individuals starting their own businesses.

Highlighting Your Skills

In response to the workforce shortages in the hospitality and tourism industry, Liza shares various creative strategies implemented by Warren County. These strategies include hosting engaging high school job fairs and providing a hospitality training program. The program, known as PUSH, or “Pathways Up for Success and Hospitality,” guarantees participants an interview with a local hospitality business. The county also puts time and resources into retention strategies, encouraging businesses to be great employers and providing opportunities for growth and advancement.

AI and Automating Jobs

Liza also shares valuable insights on harnessing AI and automation to enhance workforce efficiency and highlights that while AI is not expected to replace jobs requiring human interaction, it can significantly contribute to filling roles where human contact is not essential.

This opens up opportunities for streamlining tasks and improving efficiency across various industries. As businesses adapt to these new technologies, Liza encourages employers, particularly in the travel and tourism niche, to explore creative ways to leverage AI for increased productivity.


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