Leaders in workforce training in the Reno area have seen the dark days of the Great Recession and are now enjoying the dawning of a new era.
The panel discussion “Workforce Development for the New Economy” at the Governor’s Conference on Business featured Don Soderberg, director of Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation; Dr. Marc Johnson, president of the University of Nevada, Reno; and Dr. Maria Sheehan, president of Truckee Meadows Community College.
Moderated by Terry Reynolds, deputy director of the Nevada Department of Business & Industry, the panelists spoke about changes in workforce education since 2008.
Coming out of the dark days of the recession was a greater cooperation among campuses and increased community engagement in how the future workforce would be training, they said.
Workforce training has always been tailored to available jobs, but in recent years the intensity of collaboration with business and industry has greatly increased.
“We start working with (training job seekers) so that when (new companies) get here, they have the workforce they need,” Soderberg said.
“If we’re going to build Reno-Sparks- Washoe County, we’re going to have to work together to find a solution,” Johnson said.
“Workforce training needs companies to get back with colleges about what their workforce needs are,” Sheehan said. We’re “looking at how to connect all the community colleges so we have one point of contact for business.”
Responding to the needs of Nevada’s new industries, the university has created 19 new degree programs, and expanded its extended studies and certificate programs.
“We want to educate people specifically to industry needs,” Johnson said.
For example, new minors include programs in renewable energy and unmanned vehicles.
“Some are new programs, some we’re rearranging what we already had,” he said.
In September, the university in partnership with Switch will open the new Reno Innovation Center, a launch pad for research and development.
Also open for the fall semester is TMCC’s new Health Science Center at its Mount Rose Redfield site that will include technology programs in nursing and veterinary medicine.
It’s also expanding its Applied Technology Center on Edison Way.
“Our technical programs are exploding,” Sheehan said.
A lot of training programs are building the workforce for jobs that won’t arrive for years. DETR’s programs are designed to connect employer and employee faster.
The department is developing a new software system, Silver State Solutions, which will quickly match jobs to the people who have those skills now.
“An employer can see what’s out there in potential employees,” Soderberg said. Employees can see what jobs currently posted that they’re qualified for and jobs that they’re almost qualified for with suggestions on additional training and where to get it. It will also help veterans translate the skills they have from their military service into the terminology of the civilian job market.
Employers can search now and employees will be able to use the Silver State Solutions program in a few months.
As educators, workforce training and business increase their intercommunication, Nevada is preparing for the jobs of the future.