Preparing a workforce for the recovery

Traditionally, the start of a New Year is an optimistic time for many people. The old worn-out year just ended has been shed and the clean new one is still bright and shiny. Optimism tends to replace pessimism in many and success is often anticipated. Adversity is expected to be overcome and the glass tends to look half full rather than half empty. Or so it has been in the past.

The 2010 reality in Northern Nevada is far different for many individuals. A continuation of unemployment or a potential job loss is very real to them. Being overqualified for a current job with no prospects for improvement is the new norm for some. Fear of the unknown stifles initiative in others. Nevada is in the top five of states with high unemployment and looks to hold that distinction for some time. Wow, is reality truly this bad?

Yes and no. Yes some people are still suffering greatly. No, it is not the end of life as we know it. Yes, some businesses will loose their grip and disappear this year. No, events will not stay this bad. Yes, high unemployment will not disappear overnight. No, our workforce is not doomed.

At Nevadaworks, we have reviewed the current state of workforce issues in our area and we are pleased to share some very positive information. Beginning approximately one year ago, the federal government started distributing increased funds for workforce training with the expectation that with this training, individuals and businesses impacted by the recession could repair the holes in the jobs foundation and prepare for the next upturn in the economy.

Receiving this money and putting it to proper use was not an easy or overnight process. It was sometimes slow and cumbersome and often frustrating. But that was 2009. In this new year, many of the plans for training are well into fruition and thousands of people have been and are being helped and for them, the future is showing some sunshine.

Last fall, the Nevadaworks staff met with representatives of UNR Extension Studies and with TMCC Workforce Development and proposed that they prepare a variety of specialized classes, based on the expressed needs of employers, that would be offered to individuals through the Nevadaworks contracted service providers. Those classes have been identified and include:

* Assessment testing in applied mathematics, reading for information, how to locate and use information. A ProveIt! Measurement correctly identifies a person's ability to perform as they claim.

* Customer service, a fresh perspective in serving customers, building customer relationships and motivating others in an organization.

* Computer training, the basics of keyboarding and lessons in Word and Excel.

* Work readiness, critical workplace topics such as dependability, teamwork, conflict resolution and grammar.

These classes are for individuals who are unemployed, underemployed or currently employed. Although the list above may seem very basic to some, employers have overwhelmingly confirmed that these skills are most lacking across industries and that when the hiring resumes, they will definitely give preference to people who demonstrate an ability to perform in the current environment rather than with outdated skills.

The class fees for this training might be paid as part of workforce help to individuals, paid by the individual or paid by an employer desiring an improved workforce. There are many sources of funding available in this area and anyone can contact the training providers listed on the Nevadaworks Web site ( for more detail.

This very needed training is available now, at reasonable cost to a wide variety of people in an adaptable format that removes many of the past barriers for individuals to acquire necessary skills. Individuals and businesses need to avail themselves of this training now while the economy is slow so that when the upturn begins, our proactive stance will deliver broad benefits and will prevent the need for reactive solutions.

The flow of federal workforce training funds is now at its peak, and later this year the flow will begin its decline as the stimulus funding runs its course. Therefore, in this early, positive part of the year, everyone needs to see personal and corporate fear leave our area. Managers must decide on what training their current staff should experience and then arrange it. Individuals must look at what is lacking in their work experience and get appropriate training to overcome that lack.

All must stifle the innate fear that negative energy generates. Put fear into last year and optimism into the new year. See only success occurring in 2010 and then let it happen. Everyone must partake of the opportunities in front of them so that when this year is old and worn, we can look back and declare that the travel through 2010 was definitely worth the time and effort!


On another note, many times in business, we have a successful encounter with an organization and then as time passes, we forget the success or our attention is otherwise diverted and soon, we forget that organization when we need it most. Such is often the case with ProNet. Many local employers have hired outstanding employees from the highly professional individuals using ProNet to upgrade their management and supervisory skills while unemployed.

If your organization is now in the position to start considering expanding its staff, don't forget to check out the revitalized and refreshed ProNet professionals for today's job market. ProNet has changed during the past two years to meet the challenges our area has faced. Knowing that such a changed group as ProNet can help your optimistic plans will help achieve your goals as the year progresses.

Tom Fitzgerald is chief executive office of Nevadaworks Contact him through

Workforce contacts from this article:

Deb O'Gorman, TMCC Workforce Development,, 824-3811

Jim McClenahan, UNR Extended Studies,, 784-4852

Pieter Droog, ProNet,, 674-5408


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment