TMCC workforce programs track shifting tides of economy
Workforce training programs, says Nicole McDowell, are a cycle of tides.
The incoming tides carry a flow of workers seeking new skills into the Workforce Development and Continuing Education programs at Truckee Meadows Community College.
The outgoing flow sends trained and motivated workers back into the economy.
Lately, the flow has been growing in a couple of areas — health careers and logistics — that are widely viewed as promising segments of the northern Nevada economy, says McDowell.
She works as a program manager in TMCC’s workforce development efforts, which works closely with employers to train the workers they need. In some cases, the program contracts directly with employers to train their existing staffs.
A logistics firm that’s experiencing rapid growth, for instance, turned to the workforce development program at TMCC to develop a training curriculum for freight brokers.
The school will help recruit students and provide the setting for classroom training. The employer provides internship opportunities.
While the students aren’t guaranteed a job upon completion of the program, McDowell notes the employer will have a good look at the students during the training.
A similar approach is providing a pool of trained workers for a company that provides caregiving services, says Amy Williams, who oversees some of the workforce-development efforts.
The caregiver company asked TMCC to adapt a nationally recognized curriculum to meet its needs. TMCC will help recruit potential workers and provide the actual training.
None of this new, Williams notes.
Sparks Florist has contracted with the TMCC workforce development program for 17 years. Twice a year, the Sparks Florist design center serves as a classroom for floral-design students.
“We think it’s a great program,” says Tony Fiannaca, owner of Sparks Florist. “The students are enthusiastic, eager to learn and already have an interest in the field.”
Along with logistics, health-care and caregiver careers, TMCC workforce experts have seen growing interest in professional sales training, McDowell says.
It lined up an experienced salesman to develop the curriculum and teach the course. Plus, he’ll allow students to shadow him on sales calls.
During its winter-spring session, TMCC also will launch a certificate program for apartment-maintenance technicians. Students in that program will develop their skills — basic maintenance, painting, re-keying locks — in a vacant apartment provided by a landlord who’s looking for trained workers.
While employers clamor for more training for workers in some specialties, McDowell says some previously hot fields show signs of cooling.
Demand for computer technicians, she says, is among the areas that has cooled.
Demand for training in entrepreneurial skills also has slowed, she says, perhaps because unemployed workers who once needed to create their own jobs now are finding other employment as the economy recovers.
The cuts would come as a direct result of reduced tax collections caused by business closures across the Silver State due to the COVID-19 pandemic.