The state's priorities

Nevadaworks has existed since July 2000, implementing the requirements of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 by utilizing the federal funds received by the U.S. Department of Labor. Due to the complexity of this law, Nevadaworks does not receive the funds directly from the federal government. Instead it receives them indirectly through a state agency which is involved with all businesses in Nevada the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation better known by its acronym DETR.

DETR is the state agency to which all businesses pay quarterly unemployment taxes. It is also the agency responsible for the JobConnect system, the Career Enhancement Program (funded by employer taxes) and the Nevada Equal Rights Commission among other responsibilities. This multi-faceted agency and Nevadaworks share the desire and requirement to help businesses and individuals become part of the solution to building a stronger 21st century workforce.

Larry Mosley was named the director of DETR in July by Gov. Jim Gibbons. Larry's more than 30 years in private sector employment (the majority of which was with IBM) gives him a perspective long needed in government. His near-doctoral level of higher education and the many awards he has received during his business career will serve him well as he leads the 800 DETR employees charged with overseeing the many and varied programs assigned to his agency.

Larry has told his staff and other audiences that he arrived at DETR with no agenda as the existing agenda is in place and probably just needs some fine tuning. So rather than spend time creating new agendas, Larry would rather understand current processes and make improvements when needed. Following are responses Larry has given to me and presented to the Nevadaworks Board during the past two months:

What are your top three priorities pertaining to Nevada workforce issues? Our top priorities include developing sector strategies, building strong partnerships with the Workforce Boards, businesses and state agencies, as well as meeting the demands for a qualified workforce as Nevada's businesses and population grow exponentially.

Focusing on industry sectors (construction, hospitality, education, and healthcare as examples) will allow us to meet the demands of particular industries that are growing faster than others, while improving the skills of the job seeker. Many states have already turned to sector strategy building because this unique partnership not only meets the need of employers, but also focuses on worker career enhancement. If we can focus on some of these high-demand industries, we will be able to offer improved training to make job seekers qualified to work in these particular fields.

Our second priority is to improve the partnership among DETR, businesses and the local workforce investment boards, (Nevadaworks and the Southern Nevada Workforce Investment Board) with the goal to build a better qualified workforce to meet the demands of the community while improving the sense of self-worth in employees.

The third priority, meeting the demands for a qualified workforce, is a continuing challenge. Nevada still enjoys a low unemployment rate. Job seekers have a wealth of opportunity when looking for new jobs. And employers struggle to fill job openings with qualified workers. Our goal is to work with employers to build training programs that will prepare job seekers for the jobs available. Employers must also be willing to train individuals from pools of potential employees they may not have previously considered, such as individuals with disabilities, veterans and ex-convicts.

How can DETR, the local Workforce Boards and Businesses work more smartly together? An industry sector strategy is one way. DETR and the Workforce Boards would bring training opportunities and strategies to businesses, which would in turn be open to additional education and training of employees. Each has a stake in the success of such a program, which would build stronger employees and a stronger workforce. Another way is to eliminate duplication between agencies. We need to find a way to better utilize available funds in a manner that produces outstanding results with minimal expense.

What is the long-term future of workforce training in Nevada? The long-term future demands ever greater communication between an always expanding group of businesses, agencies and educational institutions to develop education-based ideas in training and workforce development. These ideas must be flexible and current to the rapidly changing needs of business and must be communicated to the governor and legislature as necessary to encourage their support as needed.

Are there any new training ideas on the horizon? Sector strategies will present new training opportunities, allowing job seekers to venture into careers they may not have considered in the past. Proper training and opportunities will bring career fulfillment and meet the skilled labor demand of employers. Beyond sector strategies, DETR and its partners will be open to other ideas as they develop.

How is success in training measured? Success is measured by a sustained decrease in the unemployment rate, continued expansion by businesses and by skilled employees who are happy with their career path, because they've been given the opportunity to advance in all aspects of their jobs.

In discussing workforce issues with Larry, there is agreement that in these days of declining federal funds and with continuing demands on the state budget, it is imperative that employers, educators and governmental agencies work together in the most efficient manner possible. There is no one answer just as there is no one problem. Together, we will advance to a well trained workforce that is at the top of any measurement list. Nevada's workforce is strong and with all of our efforts, it will get even stronger. We look forward to the results as we achieve them together.

DETR's Web site is and Nevadaworks' is If you have any comments, suggestions or ideas that will help keep our workforce improve, please contact Larry or me.

Tom Fitzgerald is chief executive officer of Nevadaworks.


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