workforce

A New Approach to Workforce Development: Resources in Denver South

In the modern economy, workforce development is much more than a job board. It means continually helping job seekers and current employees alike to hone new skill sets and in doing so, enhance their value in the workplace.

Modern workforce development requires helping job seekers to advance from exactly where they are. While this might mean simply connecting a qualified worker with appropriate companies and job openings, it more often means identifying what skills a specific job seeker needs to advance and providing the resources to acquire them. Moreover, modern workforce development extends beyond current job seekers to reach employees that are looking to advance, high school students planning their careers, and college students pursuing degrees. It’s a thread in the fabric of a community that wants residents to do well for themselves and their families, and Denver South has it.

In Denver South, the business community is always buzzing. In large part, that’s because area business leaders, non-profits, government agencies, and schools are all committed to helping residents develop their skill sets and their careers across industries. Here are just a few of the innovative workforce development resources in the area that you should know about.

Skillful: Helping job seekers and employers see beyond the four-year degree

Not everybody has a four-year college degree, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a place in the modern economy. Skillful is a platform that connects job seekers, specifically those without degrees, with skills-based training that qualifies them for well-paying jobs in today’s changing economy.  Trained career coaches, who help job seekers to identify, hone, and market their specific skills, are a pillar of the program.

Colorado launched Skillful in March 2016 as a program pioneer, one of only two states in the country to have fully implemented the program. In 2018, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper supported the extension of the program through the Skillful State Network, a collaboration with 19 other governors wanting to implement similar programs in their states. The mission of the collaboration is to transform the U.S. labor market to become more skills-based and inclusive of those without four-year degrees.

Careerwise: Offering high-schoolers real-life skills

Apprenticeships might sound like an outdated model to modern ears, but Colorado-based Careerwise is busy trying to change that. Careerwise borrows from the Swiss apprenticeship system model, which offers more than 230 approved apprenticeship occupations. In the Swiss system, 70 percent of high school students participate in apprenticeships, 30 percent of whom stay with their training company or return after college. Businesses are also onboard, with 40 percent of all Swiss companies participating.

Careerwise engages Colorado high schoolers in part-time apprenticeship programs that give them the opportunity to participate in a meaningful work experience, to earn a nationally-recognized industry certification, to participate in a professional network, and to earn debt-free college credit. Careerwise also benefits businesses by offering the value of apprentices’ work, reduced turnover costs, and a talent pipeline of skilled workers familiar with the day-to-day operations of their employers.

WORKNOW: Connecting current construction workers and contractors with available work

How can a qualified construction worker get recruited to work on a project near home? It’s possible with WORKNOW. WORKNOW, administered by Colorado Resource Partners (CORE), supports community-centered hiring on large infrastructure projects with the goals of improving access to work for residents and expanding the pipeline of workers for area contractors. WORKNOW connects job seekers in three specific areas: craft (ex. heavy equipment operator, carpenter, electrician), office (ex. payroll clerk, administrative assistant, intern) and professional services (ex. materials testing, surveyor, safety).

Cherry Creek Innovation Campus: Broadening career horizons for area high schoolers

Although career paths might seem limitless in the modern world, no young person can pursue a career that they don’t know about. The Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (CCIC) is exposing area students to more career paths than ever before. A stand-alone college and career-preparedness facility accessible to high school students across the Cherry Creek Schools, the facility offers pathways including: advanced manufacturing (fabrication, production, machining), business services (entrepreneurship, business marketing, project management), health and wellness (pharmacy tech, CNA, OT/PT, behavioral mental health), hospitality and tourism (student café, ProStart, event planning, and resort management), infrastructure engineering (construction management, big-build concept), and IT (cybersecurity, data science, drones, design thinking, virtual reality, robotics).

After all, when students think about what they want to be, why shouldn’t they answer “resort manager,” “occupational therapist,” or “cybersecurity expert”?

Arapahoe Community College Workforce & Community Programs: Building the community one student at a time

Arapahoe Community College (ACC) offers something for everyone, from professionals looking to advance or shift their careers, to businesses looking to grow their operations in Colorado or relocate to Colorado, to residents wanting to improve their hobby photography. The Colorado First and Existing Industry Customized Job Training Program grant programs, which are jointly administered by the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), provide grant funding for businesses depending on their goals. Colorado First provides grant funds for new hires for companies that are relocating or expanding in Colorado. The Existing Industry program supports established Colorado companies in remaining competitive by adapting to new technologies. ACC provides tailored training through grant funds for qualifying businesses.

Workforce development becomes a pillar of the community when area business leaders, non-profits, government agencies, and schools alike actively support it, which is the case in Denver South. As a result, businesses and residents alike thrive. As a Denver South resident, you have a community that supports your professional development goals.

And there’s no time like the present to connect with resources that are available to you, your children, and your colleagues.

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