What Nevadaworks has been up to lately

When federal tax dollars are spent on programs as esoteric as workforce development, it is only right that taxpayers understand what benefits occur from the spending of that money. As the recipient of U.S. Department of Labor funds, Nevadaworks must prepare an annual report on the northern Nevada workforce development programs it funded during the fiscal year ending June 30. The Nevadaworks annual report cuts through the bureaucracy-speak and number crunching and presents a real-people report that demonstrates the value received by the many individuals served throughout its northern Nevada service area during the 2006-2007 program year.

Nevadaworks is committed to developing and maintaining a skilled workforce to meet northern Nevada business needs while assisting people who are seeking employment. Nevadaworks desires to strengthen the economic base of communities and help workers improve their standard of living. By continually upgrading the skill sets of the employed, Nevadaworks impacts the economic health in our region in a very positive manner.

Nevadaworks has expanded the spectrum of services beyond traditional employment and training programs into a holistic approach as a catalyst for employers to connect with the resources necessary to address their community economic and workforce development needs.

Past workforce development issues have centered on low unemployment levels fueling a need for workers to support businesses throughout the area. However, with the pace of growth for northern Nevada's economy continuing to slow, current efforts are more focused on future workers and their needed skills.

Nevadaworks' official report leans heavily on the youth-training programs of this past year. Youth are a very important element for Nevadaworks because they are tomorrow's workforce. If we are ever to solve the ongoing problems of an under-skilled workforce, we need to focus on the youth of today so that tomorrow, employers will be able to say, "My workers are the best I have ever hired!"

This year's entire report can be viewed at www.nevadaworks.com/media.html. Following are excerpts:

A rural example of preparing tomorrow's workforce was the Youth Employment Program for Churchill County Juvenile Probation. The Youth Employment Program served individuals from the ages of 14 to 18 who were on probation with the Churchill County Juvenile Probation Department. Basic skills assessment and employability skills training, including interviewing skills, workplace etiquette, resume preparation, and customer service skills, were provided to these individuals. With the assistance of the Job Opportunities In Nevada office, probation staff identified local businesses that would hire youth who performed well during the job application and interview training. Employers who hired these young people all responded positively about their work abilities.

The Youth Employment Program of the City of Reno provided in-school youth with opportunities that assisted them in preparing for future career choices. The program gave the youth first-hand experiences about the workplace including being on time, communication with co-workers, respecting authority and working in a team environment. The enrolled youth also gained experiences in a municipal government setting, and were taught job readiness in order to obtain a job and remain employed.

Located in Virginia City, Community Chest has been presenting the Comstock Youth Works Program to a rural youth population with barriers that often include special education needs, failing in classes, family crisis and drug abuse issues. The employment component of the program was a very popular experience and the business community responded positively to the youth participants.

The TMCC nursing pipeline project reached its goal of enabling students to complete an associate degree in nursing in 22 months rather than the normal 36 months. Participants earned dual credits in high school and college while attending summer school. The students who went through a rigorous course of studies including advanced science and math courses also received real-world work experience at Saint Mary's Hospital. These students reflected the ethnic diversity of the Reno-Sparks community and most are already employed in the nursing field as certified nursing assistants. These students demonstrated the passion, maturity, focus, and determination to become successful and caring nurses. They will be a big help to our community as they advance through the specialties available in the nursing profession.

Adult workers benefited from services offered by Job Opportunities In Nevada, which in partnership with agencies such as Employment Security, Vocational Rehabilitation and Veteran's Outreach use the Nevada JobConnect offices to facilitate the seamless delivery of services to clients. JOIN's Career Counselors provide a full array of services including case management, assessment, job development and access to training programs.

The Workforce Network is a regional partnership designed to focus the region's considerable training resources on continually improving the existing workforce by building a tool box of programs and services available to all employers. In order to strengthen the usefulness of the tool box, Nevadaworks will identify missing resources that will further improve linkages between employers and employees. Nevadaworks will coordinate, in partnership with employers, targeted out-of-area recruiting to fill regional skilled worker needs.

I hope this brief overview of Nevadaworks' 2006 Program Year was helpful. Working with our business, educational and governmental partners, Nevadaworks will continue to define and understand the workforce needs and coordinate efforts to successfully meet all challenges. The global competition for a competent workforce will only intensify in coming years. With the continued help of our outstanding business community, this region will win its share of that competition and we will all look forward to continuing good workforce reports.

Tom Fitzgerald is chief executive officer of Nevadaworks.


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