Attracting industry and business is critical to long-term economic development, but even more vital is the attraction and training of the workers who form the heart and soul of any enterprise with a long-genuine vision for success and growth.
Cooperative workforce planning, then, involves a systematic focus on a company’s future talent needs. Workforce planning is vital to help a firm develop a clear view of their talent supply to gain—and maintain—competitive advantage.
And, for good reason, more and more companies are looking to Nevada and its proactive approach toward workforce development.
Truth be told, Nevada—the Silver State—is golden as more and more businesses in a wide variety of industries are being drawn there, because of, among other incentives, the quality, flexibility, trainability and availability of the state’s workforce.
Engagement is key at every level, says Stacey Bostwick, Director of Workforce Development in the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
“We connect and channel all of the resources available in a multi-faceted way to meet the needs of a company whether it’s evolving an existing operation in the state, embracing technology and automation, or looking to relocate here.”
That, she says, “puts everyone on the same page and helps craft a long-term vision and metrics for future growth.”
At the core of Nevada’s workforce development campaign is its Workforce Innovation (WINN) program.
Managed from the Governor’s Office, the program’s mandate is driving a skilled, diverse, and aligned workforce by promoting cooperation and collaboration among all entities focused on workforce development and implementing the state’s pathways strategy in the fields of technology, advanced manufacturing, logistics and distribution, and health care.
How? By preparing all K-12 students for college and postgraduate career success and increasing Nevadans’ skills with quality training, credential, and apprenticeship programs.
Since its inception, WINN has made nearly $11 million in strategic investments to enable accelerated on-ramps to high-skill and high wage jobs in the state.
Last year, Nevada—home to more than 3 million residents—received a $13.8 million federal grant to support short-term job training programs to help prepare unemployed and underemployed individuals for in-demand occupations.
The funding brought the opportunity to offer expanded, streamlined access to short-term courses, credentials and pathways in high-growth, high-wage sectors including manufacturing, health care, information technology, logistics, and high-skilled trades through cooperative partnerships between the appropriate state agencies, colleges, and industries.
Nevada, says Bostwick, is brimming with an abundance of individuals with a wealth of skills who support articulating those skills to employers and transfer into other jobs.
“We augment our homegrown talent into creating an unsurpassed source of workers for companies wanting to grow their businesses here,” she says.
One of several, effective tools to tap into that virtually bottomless resource is Nevada SkillsMatch, a free, online platform that a worker looking to advance their career can use to quickly inventory their past experience and training along with their career goals. The information is then filtered to identify the career areas their interests and skills best match, pair them with the specific training needed to fill any gaps, and steer them to personalized training opportunities to help them on their desired career path.
The goal, says Bostwick, “is to help people with marketable skills find the best place for them, and the company that hires them, to benefit and grow.”
The attraction of Nevada is that the state recognizes and works to cultivate the diverse character of its workforce with the state’s regional and local workforce development agencies playing a pivotal role—a role that has not gone unnoticed nationally.
For example, earlier this year, The National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) awarded its prestigious Laurie Moran Partnership Award to Workforce Connections, Southern Nevada’s Workforce Development Board, and the Vegas Chamber for their joint efforts in advancing the region’s workforce and economic development. The award highlights the collaborative and innovative talent pipelines their teams have established in the region.
In 2019, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance teamed with the Vegas Chamber and its Workforce Connections program to unveil their Workforce Blueprint 2.0—an innovative, data-driven approach to prepare for the regional workforce’s future needs and identified its top 100 in-demand occupations.
The line was cast and a big fish was hooked when Haas Automation broke ground in the fall of 2020 on a new 2.5 million square foot manufacturing facility in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas.
Haas, the largest manufacturer of machine tools in the U.S., sells its machinery in more than 100 countries.
The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development has earmarked $2 million for the College of Southern Nevada to develop an advanced manufacturing rapid response program to meet Haas’ need for trained workers.
The funding is providing the wherewithal to energize a cooperative effort by the City of Henderson, and the College of Southern Nevada to develop a new, state-of-the-art education and training facility—the West Henderson Center—to train workers in high-tech manufacturing.
The planned West Henderson Center will supply workers for the new Haas manufacturing facility, which is slated to open in 2023 with the company saying it will hire 1,400 employees at an average wage of $24 an hour. The company is working with the College of Southern Nevada to develop a curriculum to train potential employees.
At the time the cooperative partnership was announced, Haas Automation Founder and CEO, Gene Haas, said, “We understand that skilled workers are essential to our success. Nevada’s commitment to developing the programs necessary to grow a skilled manufacturing workforce is proof that Haas Automation made the right decision to invest in Southern Nevada.”
As Nevada continues to be a magnet for businesses with long-term, proactive plans for future success, “the key remains providing those businesses with highly-skilled workers,” says Stacey Bostwick. The state “has the resources, the incentives and the vision to assist businesses with their specific workforce needs. We have a reservoir of talented workers to tap into and, when all is said and done, Nevada delivers.”