Private Sector’s Needs Should Drive Workforce Priorities
Wyoming’s industries should be leaders of economic growth, not the public sector. The Wyoming Workforce Development Council adopted the Next Generation Sector Partnerships (Next Gen) approach in May 2018 to put industry in the driver’s seat. We are already seeing results.
The decision to make this switch is rooted in personal convictions held by the council members. We live and work in your communities in business, economic development, education and employment. We want to see businesses thrive in our communities and provide the jobs needed to keep our children, family members and friends at home.
As the state’s Workforce Development Council, we strongly believe that the Next Gen approach aligns with our mission to assist growing industries, build businesses and connect people with better jobs. Our 30-member council is composed of both public sector representatives and industry leaders, appointed by the governor to advise the State of Wyoming on workforce development strategies.
The council launched Next Gen with the support of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, the Wyoming Business Council, the Wyoming Department of Education and the Wyoming Community College Commission. All of these agencies are represented on the council.
Next Gen veers from the traditional government model where economic developers, educators and workforce professionals in the public sector are viewed as dictating their vision to industries. Under the Next Gen approach, we have asked industry leaders to form regional partnerships and develop priorities that address the shared workforce and growth needs in their industries.
The public sector then works hand-in-hand with these partnerships to move their priorities forward. That could be the local community college adding a program or certification that meets a regional industry priority. Or it could be the local workforce one-stop center holding its first construction industry-specific job fair.
So far Wyoming has had a faster ramp-up of Next Generation Sector Partnerships than any other state. Since 2011, more than a dozen states have launched 80 Next Gen Partnerships nationwide. In Wyoming, 12 industry partnerships have launched in manufacturing, healthcare, finance and insurance, construction trades, hospitality, and technology in nine regions. We expect a few more partnerships to form into 2020.
Each partnership has identified its priorities for mutually beneficial growth in their region. At least one priority for every partnership has been specifically tied to industries demands for a workforce with better basic skills, new technical skills, or skills tied to key occupations. Other priorities have focused on building career awareness among youth and adults and marketing the region and the industry to attract skilled workers.
Based on industry regional priorities, the partnerships are working on new programs, products and partnering efforts. For example, the construction industry in Laramie County spearheaded the launch of a new dual enrollment program in the skilled trades involving local school districts and the local community college.
The Southwest Manufacturing Sector Partnership launched a manufacturing operator program to be followed by mechanical and electrical certifications. The Fremont County Healthcare Sector Partnership is working on a new unified health care assessment, telehealth expansion, and new unified effort to close gaps in telehealth network.
The Workforce Development Council wants to develop a workforce that works for industries. To do that, we need industries continued involvement in Next Gen. So if you have not already gotten involved, please visit our website https://wywdc.com to learn more.