Workforce Development

Transforming Workforce Education

The way we deliver workforce education and training isn’t working. That’s the takeaway from two recent studies commissioned by the Springdale Chamber.

The research sheds new light on the region’s talent crisis and calls for transforming the way we deliver workforce training and education. The studies state employers can’t find people with the skills they need, and that without redesigning our workforce pipeline, they will continue struggling to fill the skills gap.

The studies analyzed which occupations will be in high demand in the coming years. Researchers discovered middle skills careers are especially hard hit by the talent crisis. Middle skills careers include generally don’t require a four-year degree, but employees likely need training or certification beyond high school. Many jobs in these fields show demand for skilled workers but some emerged as high demand training opportunities.

Mechanics & repairs occupations
-Industrial maintenance mechanics
-Diesel technicians
-HVAC and refrigeration technicians
-Automotive technicians

Healthcare assistants
-Dental assistants
-Home health aides
-Medical technicians

Computer user support specialists
Truck drivers
Wholesale sales representatives

The studies examined whether current workforce training programs are equipped to meet demand. They revealed training programs for some high-demand jobs, like diesel technicians, have low enrollment rates while others, such as nursing, lack the capacity to meet demand. So what needs to be done to correct this mismatch?
The studies’ authors call for re-imagining how workforce training is delivered and creating a cohesive pipeline that engages industry, K-12 education, post-secondary training providers, students and parents.

Researchers call on stakeholders to work with state legislators to increase funding to upskill existing workers. They also make the case for making improvements to Northwest Technical Institute (NWTI).

The recommendations include growing industry support to create a modern NWTI campus and programs that deliver world-class training while showcasing what a modern workplace looks like for middle skills careers. Researchers also advise assessing which programs should be added or expanded and which may need to be phased out.
Recommendations for K-12 schools include creating or expanding career and technical education programs in high demand fields. Programs should be expanded to reach middle, junior high and high school students and map clear career pathways. Stakeholders should also create more work experiences to expose students to skilled careers to generate greater student and parent engagement, attract more students to high demand fields and create more work-ready employees for businesses.
These recommendations will take time to implement, but by collaborating with all stakeholders we can grow our talent pipeline.