First, the good news. Economic development efforts in Southern Nevada over the last decade have resulted in unprecedented business growth. That growth, coupled with our region’s low employment, means that today there is fierce competition among employers for a skilled and diverse workforce.
Now, the challenge ahead. We need to make sure Southern Nevada’s workforce meets the needs of employers today and in the future.
This work is not the role of one single agency or community sector.
We must align employer needs with education initiatives. We must have open and honest communication between leaders from economic development and workforce development agencies. We must all work together to create the proper talent pipelines so that Southern Nevada’s economy can continue to grow.
For the first time at this scale, that is already happening on multiple fronts. Stakeholders are tearing down silos, and there is a spirit of true collaboration. Together, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance (LVGEA), the Vegas Chamber and Workforce Connections produced the Workforce Blueprint 2.0. This document maps out the investment needs for workforce development, and together, we are already acting on it.
We are convening educators, employers, trades and others to amplify career pathways, including more apprenticeship efforts. Perhaps, one of the most historic initiatives accomplished for our community is a collective effort to make Clark County “work ready.”
What does “work ready” mean? We know how important it is that businesses hire the right worker the first time. Employers drive the economy. Reducing turnover helps eliminate unnecessary recruitment efforts and costly re-training. The No. 1 issue we hear from employers is that someone they believed would be a good fit based on a resume and interview, eventually lacked the necessary skills needed to actually get the job done. There is a solution.
We are proud to report that Clark County is now the largest county in the nation to become a certified ACT Work Ready Community. The same ACT organization that offers exams to assess readiness for college, also provides a series of assessments to gauge job readiness skills. Instead of a numeric score, individuals earn a certificate reflecting their skill levels that is recognized not only in Southern Nevada but across the United States.
For years, communities in other states have successfully used the ACT WorkKeys assessment system, proving the National Career Readiness Certificate or NCRC can be a critical tool for both employers and job seekers. The certificate provides employers essential information about future hires. It provides job seekers a chance to demonstrate how their skills match up with open jobs and indicates what areas they need to improve on in order to qualify for other job opportunities.
Here in Southern Nevada, NV Energy is already utilizing WorkKeys and the NCRC with success. In fact, Trudy Haszlauer, labor relations manager for NV Energy, has become one of this initiative’s staunchest supporters. “This impacts our bottom line by reducing recruitment, training and turnover costs,” Haszlauer said.
But again, this initiative takes the support of our entire economic ecosystem to make it successful. As more students and job seekers earn their NCRC, more employers will benefit from hiring the right worker the first time. Our economic development agencies can utilize Clark County’s national certification as yet another way to promote Southern Nevada to businesses. Now, by way of a talented and ready workforce.
Is this a big goal? Absolutely. We know we have a lot of work to do. But we believe that “whatever it takes” means rolling up our sleeves and pursuing those big goals to build a stronger tomorrow together.
As we look toward the future, we are extremely optimistic. We hope you are, too.
Jaime Cruz is the executive director for Workforce Connections.