Aligning Opportunities in the Northeast Ohio Region

A Resource to Aid in Addressing the Demand and Supply Imbalance in the Region’s Workforce

Prepared by

In Partnership With

With Generous Support From

Reflecting Five Years into Aligning Opportunities: Expanding Talent Insights to Help Build a Vibrant Economy for the Northeast Ohio Region

Our objective of this annual research report remains the same – to bridge the gap between the alignment of talent and opportunities in growing high-potential industries offering family-sustaining wages. Over time, this report has provided our region’s education, talent and workforce ecosystem with insights into the emerging needs of our region’s employers to ensure our region’s talent pool is ready to take on the opportunities of tomorrow. Many of them have told us that the insights served as invaluable inputs into their strategic decisions.

This report is one of many steps Team NEO has undertaken since 2017 to transform our regional competitiveness in talent. In 2019, we formed the Talent Development Council (TDC), comprised
of educational and industry-leading professionals from across the region, to identify strategic solutions we could work on together to help close our region’s talent gap. The new cyber security pilot program led by the Lorain County Community College and Fortress Security Risk Management, a Division of MCPc, outlined on page six, serves as an example of what a strong partnership that leverages targeted insights can do.

Also in 2019, we welcomed partner Delta Dental to expand the visibility of these insights beyond the report to include a series of forums and facilitated conversations with educators and business leaders about effective ways to address Northeast Ohio’s talent gap. In addition, we are partnering with College Now Greater Cleveland, Junior Achievement Greater Cleveland, Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, Inc. and other organizations to focus on educating students about the pathways that will lead to in-demand careers in our region.

In 2020, we launched Misaligned Opportunities, a supplement to our Aligning Opportunities report, that offers a deep dive into how racial inequity contributes to Northeast Ohio’s talent pipeline. This was followed in 2021 by Lost Opportunities, a look at gender inequities in our region’s talent pool and the significant impacts that the pandemic had on working women.

This work to understand our region’s talent gap and align related workforce strategies must continue as we take advantage of the generational opportunity Northeast Ohio is experiencing today. More companies are considering significant investment here because of our geographical advantages, industry and supply strength, innovation assets, affordability, and many other attributes. We need to deepen and broaden our talent pools in order to capitalize on this opportunity.

To that end, we will continue to offer these and other meaningful talent insights that will enable efforts to create a more vibrant economy, one that makes our businesses more competitive and ensures economic prosperity for all Northeast Ohioans.

Bill Koehler
Chief Executive Officer
Team NEO

from Delta Dental

Dear Northeast Ohio Leaders:

Together with our customers and partners, Delta Dental of Ohio is committed to helping Northeast Ohio build healthy, smart, vibrant communities for all.

We are proud to sponsor Team NEO’s Aligning Opportunities report for the third year. This year’s edition offers an in-depth look at the supply and demand of talent in our region, with a special focus on engaging communities to allow for inclusive economic growth.

Most of us have made the best of the pandemic crisis, changing the way we communicate and measure success. Many of us are also likely advancing technology projects, discovering innovations and becoming more adaptive companies.

There’s no doubt the economy is changing. The way (and where) we work is too, but the need for
a talented workforce remains consistent. We must make the economy work for everyone and that means having an inclusive economy where opportunities and benefits are available for everyone.

Aligning Opportunities shows us what the in-demand jobs will be in manufacturing, health care and IT in this coming year and beyond. Please join Delta Dental in using this year’s edition as a launching pad for a year-long focus on creating pathways to successful people. This effort will include events and conversations designed to engage the business community as well as educators and students in grades 6-12 and higher education.

You know Delta Dental as one of the region’s largest dental benefits companies. We provide a high-value, cost-effective employee benefit that helps you attract and maintain a healthy workforce, which is perhaps more important than ever before given our current circumstances.

We look forward to partnering with Team NEO and you to keep our region strong and competitive.


Michael Loeffler
Executive Director, Sales and Account Management 
Delta Dental of Ohio

Regional Goals

To meet projected labor demand, 65% of Ohio’s workforce will need to have a 2- or 4-year degree, or certified marketable skill by 2025. Today, the level of educational attainment in Northeast Ohio falls short of this mark, with 37% of the region’s population having received a 2- or 4-year degree and another 21% having some training but no degree or certificate to show for it.

Gap Between Education Required by 2025 and Educational Attainment of Population 2020

* “Some College” includes both those who have started, but not completed, a college degree program and those who may hold a certificate or other training credential that is not a degree.

Postsecondary credentials have grown from 33% to 37% in Northeast Ohio over the past five years.

2001-2019 in Northeast Ohio

dropped by 173,000 to 4.26M

Labor Force
dropped by 156,000 to 2.15M

Looking ahead: the post COVID economy will require innovative solutions to address worker shortages and retention strategies.

With fewer workers but increasing demand, Northeast Ohio faces a growing need to educate and train people to fill jobs hiring now and in the future.

Growing and Retaining the Talent Pipeline

Graduate Pipeline & Retention

While retention solutions have been implemented to impact our graduate pipeline, COVID’s unique impact on students and workers has drawn our attention not only to long-term effects on the graduate pipeline, but the immediate needs of workers and students now. Two successful programs we have highlighted in the Aligning Opportunities series focused on helping students in schools and those transitioning between jobs during the pandemic. IBM and Youngstown State University’s Skills Accelerator, a cohort-based learning model, and prior learning assessments help first-time job seekers connect to regional jobs while the Ohio To Work program helps individuals state-wide become work-ready through access to trainings, tools, and resources so they can find higher-paying jobs.

Northeast Ohio retains less than 47% of its graduates. This translates to 14,608 graduates annually.If Northeast Ohio grew retention to 57% annually, the region could retain:

more total BA+ grads
more Health Care BA+ grads
more IT BA+ grads
more Architecture & Engineering BA+ grads

Source: EMSI 2019 NOTE: Graduate retention is based on 2017 BA+ graduates.

Businesses Transforming Talent Practices

In past editions of Aligning Opportunities reporting, we shared case studies of programs to engage and encourage students and workers to drive toward in-demand careers by offering education programs and training to advance their careers.

Businesses also play a critical role in efforts to attract, retain and grow talent. In this report, we highlight creative and innovative solutions being deployed by businesses in the Northeast Ohio Region to access broader and deeper talent pools, as well as make workplaces destinations for the best talent:

At MetroHealth, it’s all about the culture of valuing, respecting and caring for everyone. This philosophy is how they attract and retain the very best employees. It’s why they raised salaries instead of furloughing or laying off employees when COVID-19 first hit. Why they host a Transgender Job Fair every year. Why they deliver high-impact virtual and e-learning training. Why they collaborate with the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Project SEARCH to train and hire employees. And why they created Military Veterans, Christian Fellowship, Emerging Leaders and other Employee Business Resource Groups. It’s also why they offer benefits that help their families stay healthy – physically, emotionally and financially. This includes health care with zero co-pays, a robust employee assistance program, tuition reimbursement and an Ohio Public Employee Retirement System pension.

MetroHealth also reaches out to their neighbors to expose them to, and help them prepare for, jobs at MetroHealth. This includes collaborating with the Spanish American Committee to start the Latino Construction Program and with Tri-C to provide job and career training through the Tri-C MetroHealth Access Center. It also includes partnering with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District on the Lincoln-West School of Science & Health inside their hospital, which allows them to easily provide mentors and career training to high school students.

And they listen to what their employees need – and provide it. After the murder of George Floyd, MetroHealth organized focus groups to hear employees’ concerns and increase understanding. During COVID, they provided meals, massages, subsidized child care and monthly appreciation gifts to lift employees’ spirits and show gratitude.

Finally, MetroHealth is doing what so many organizations avoid: partnering with their competitors, with other area health systems to remove barriers and provide training. The result: more good-paying entry-level jobs for low-income workers.

Ohio businesses have been challenged by drops in demand, raw material shortages, delays, and price hikes. Chief among these concerns is an increasingly tough talent market. Novagard, a local manufacturer of expertly engineered silicones, foam, hybrid sealants and coatings, has molded their solutions around the values of resilience, agility, courage, empathy, and respect.

These values inspired Novagard to avoid layoffs in early 2020 with rolling furloughs while federal unemployment was in effect. By that summer, though, Novagard was looking to significantly grow their workforce. The company used a mixture of strategic pay increases, added employee perks, like free Friday Food Trucks, and skills development opportunities to show appreciation for their existing employees while marketing themselves to new talent. To keep workers prepped and ready for advancement, they plan to partner with Skill Up to guide training plans for new technology coming in with help from a JobsOhio grant. With more positions to fill, they are in early discussions with Custom Rubber Corporation to approach local high schools and introduce students to careers in manufacturing. Since Summer 2020, these strategies have helped Novagard onboard more than 40 employees.

In order to retain and attract the best employees, ARM TruckCorp LLC – a state-of-the-art OEM manufacturing and heavy truck upfit facility that makes specialty equipment such as snowplows, heavy dump trucks and leaf and debris vacuums – put a plan in action to ensure knowledge transfer and training. They are exploring
on-the-job-training opportunities as well as creating a tuition reimbursement program to upskill certain employees with shop floor experience into engineering tech positions. They also created a supervisor training program delivered in house and custom to their needs. While they have increased wages, staying competitive remains a constant priority. As a result,they implemented profit sharing, as well as robust benefits packages. They hire largely by referrals, and this has served them well. They have a low turnover rate for the industry at approximately 17%.

MCPc, headquartered in Cleveland, OH, is an industry-leading managed endpoint computing, technology logistics, asset management, and sustainability organization that provides a proven, robust end-to-end lifecycle management protocol. Fortress Security Risk Management, a Division of MCPc, exists to help protect clients from the scourge of cybercrime. Fortress’ comprehensive, holistic, and integrated security services help organizations dramatically improve their security resilience. Both organizations have been working hard to find, train, and retain talent here in Northeast Ohio. MCPc has partnered with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District School of One internship program to provide work-based learning opportunities where students can obtain full-time jobs after graduation at their facility in Old Brooklyn, OH. Additionally, MCPc provided a yearlong Leadership Training course for all managers and supervisors ending in July 2021.

Furthermore, a new role was created at MCPc for a Director of Community & Employee Engagement and established a supportive Engagement Team to target areas on employee relations, career paths, development objectives, and increases in compensation. At the same time, Fortress SRM is working with Lorain County Community College (LCCC) to create cybersecurity internships. Currently, Fortress SRM has three LCCC students interning in their Security Operations Center. Fortress SRM also recently adopted an online training program that allows Managers to assign employees training focused on career development and professional growth.

Park Place Technologies, a global IT infrastructure services and solutions provider, has established relationships with many local universities, including Case Western Reserve University and John Carroll University to help fill their pipeline. The company works directly with professors to recruit and also share future talent needs and the emerging skill sets needed to fill these needs. Park Place also forms strong relationships between recruiters and hiring managers to dive deep into the jobs they recruit for, starting with one-on-one discussions to determine the KSAs needed for each job. The company’s recruiting strategy includes a broad spectrum of recruiting sources to optimize their visibility to diverse candidate pools and a dedicated resource that focuses solely on sourcing across campuses. Leveraging career fairs; company sponsored meet and greets and phone screens to communicate unique benefits that they offer are other strategies they deploy. Park Place finds that one of the most successful retention tactics is that their people enjoy working together by ensuring each candidate is a fit for the organization and that Park Place is a fit for the candidate.

Employees are provided multiple platforms to communicate their feedback on company culture. In their first year of hire, new employees take a series of employee engagement surveys to assess the onboarding process and participate in at least a yearly survey for the rest of their time at the company. Park Place is a fast-paced environment and while they work hard to accomplish their goals, they also value balance. From onsite yoga classes at lunch, gyms, mammograms, skin checks and flu shots, their employees are able to prioritize their health and their work.

Closing The Equity Gap

Gaps in Equity

To achieve a more vibrant and equitable economy, we must address the barriers to earning a college degree or relevant credential, training, and labor force participation, while also addressing wage disparities we see. That is why, in addition to our analysis on talent supply and demand, we dove deeper into the implications behind COVID’s effects on Northeast Ohio’s minority workers and working women. In the 2021 Misaligned Opportunities and Lost Opportunities reports we shed light on what data says about these two critical groups in our workforce and what leaders are doing to offset the pandemic’s impacts.

Percentage of Population with a Bachelor’s Degree or Above

SOURCE: American Community Survey 2015-2019 Estimates

Business Ownership in Northeast Ohio

SOURCE: Survey of Business Owners (US Census Bureau), 2017

Median Household Income

SOURCE: American Community Survey 2015-2019 Estimates

Median Earnings by Educational Attainment by Gender in Northeast Ohio

SOURCE: 2019 American Community 5-year estimate

Top In-Demand Careers

Since reporting on the demand/supply imbalance of our region’s workforce, these industries remain in the highest demand. Top careers students should consider in these industries include:

Health Care:
Telehealth Nurse, Lab Technician, and Respiratory Therapist

Robotics & Automation Technicians, CNC Machinist and 3D Printing Technician

Cybersecurity Specialist, Artificial Intelligence Engineer, and Data Scientist

Health Care



Entry-Level Demand




Credentials Awarded 2019




Entry Level Unfilled Jobs 2019




2020 Jobs




Median Annual Salary




Top Certifications:

Health Care: Registered Nurse, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Board Certified / Board Eligible, and Basic Life Saving (BLS)

Manufacturing: Environmental Protection Agency, OSHA Forklift, EPA CFC/HCFC, Welding, and Contractor’s License

IT: IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Project Management, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified A+ Technician, and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

Top Skills

Health Care: Patient Care, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Treatment Planning, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)*, and Acute Care*

Manufacturing: Repair, Machine Operation*, Hand Tools, Machinery, and Packaging*

IT: SQL, Java, JavaScript, Microsoft C+, SAP

*Top skills that have emerged over the past five years

Top 20 Occupations /


These top 20 occupations depict good jobs offering family-sustaining wages and a low risk of automation. We encourage students and educational faculty to pay close attention to opportunities in these fields as they look to the future.

Occupation Title

Median Annual Salary

Total Job Demand 2020

Total Jobs 2020

2020-2025 % Job Growth

Typical Entry Level Education

Work Experience Required

General & Operation Managers






5 years or more

Marketing Managers






5 years or more

Financial Managers






5 years or more

Human Resource Managers






5 years or more

Medical & Health Services Managers






Less than 5 years

Managers, Emerging Fields






Less than 5 years

Management Analyst






Less than 5 years

Training & Development Specialist






Less than 5 years

Business Operations Specialists







Financial Analsyts







Information Security Analysts






Less than 5 years

Database Administration







Software Application Developers







Web Developers







Computers Occupations







Operations Research Analysts







Occupational Therapists







Physical Therapists





Doctoral or professional degree


Registered Nurses







Nurse Practitioners







SOURCE: Burning Glass Labor Insight/Jobs, EMSI 2020, Team NEO Calculations
NOTE: Our demand supply model does not accurately capture every pathway to employment, i.e., non-registered apprenticeships, temp agencies, etc.

At A Glance /


This chart provides a quick view of how Northeast Ohio’s demand for workers in key occupational groups is oversupplied, undersupplied, or in general alignment. Since reporting the demand-supply alignment, the gap continues to grow. While this is due, in part, to better data available, it is also due to demographic headwinds impacting our market.

SOURCE: Burning Glass Labor Insight/Jobs, EMSI 2020, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Team NEO Calculations

NOTE: Our demand supply model does not accurately capture every pathway to employment, i.e., non-registered apprenticeships, temp agencies, etc. The academic pathway and state registered apprenticeships have been our focus.

Recieve Talent & Equity Updates

Aligning Opportunities Report

Team NEO, in partnership with Delta Dental, provides this Aligning Opportunities report with data-driven regional insights to inform decisions related to addressing Northeast Ohio’s talent gap. We focus on exploring solutions to this demand-supply misalignment with the goals of strengthening our economy, improving the quality of life for all residents, and continuing to attract new businesses to the region.


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