Several years ago SeVEDS identified the region’s aging, flat population as a critical concern. The 2014 Windham Hiring Needs Assessment confirmed low workforce supply was becoming a challenge for employers, one that has only worsened. Low unemployment and retirements create problems for employers, but also opportunities for people.
Investing in workforce is critical. Three of the seven Windham S.M.A.R.T CEDS Objectives relate to workforce. The BDCC-SeVEDS Workforce Center of Excellence (WFCoE) was started to find innovative solutions. It targets every link in the talent supply chain; high school and college students, today’s workers who need tomorrow’s skills, and new people we need to attract to fill key roles.
Many organizations address workforce. The WFCoE is aligning resources, and shifting focus to base programs on the skills and talent in demand. As convener, collaborator and innovator, it has built partnerships and solutions to emerging challenges. Leading the Workforce Investment Board, and the Diverse Workforce Development Committee, it works closely with Vermont Department of Labor (DOL), Creative Workforce Solutions, and Vocational Rehab to ensure all community members receive help entering the workforce. WFCoE programs are supported by VT DOL funding, municipal funding, and private support from the McClure and Vermont Community Foundations.
- In 2016 the WFCoE received two awards from the Northeast Economic Developers Association: Workforce Center of Excellence won Program of the Year, and Project of the Year for the G.S. Precision Expansion. This $17 million investment is creating 100 new jobs and a new training pipeline partnership with the Community College of Vermont and Vermont DOL.
- We partnered with educators, employers and workforce orgs on the 1st day-long Sophomore Summit career awareness event – a huge success, with 18 employers, dozens of volunteer professional mentors, and over 200 high school sophomores.
- As one of two regions invited to join ACCD’s Talent Pipeline Management initiative, staff are participating in trainings and piloting the statewide TPM online tool.
- The Internship program placed its 78th intern, of which 15 have become full time employees.
- Southern VT Young Professionals held its biggest gala yet with over 300 revelers.
Expanding Internships. Windham is becoming a summer internship destination. in 2017-18 we are adding more fall and spring placements, and seeking funds to add employers outside the Windham region. Next year we plan to implement a Targeted Expertise Recruitment (TER) program to help employers spend less time and money attracting the talent they need to fill key positions.
A comprehensive workforce pipeline responsive to job demands, fueling job opportunities here.
- A major Ecovation Hub initiative begins, with the July 2017 signing of an MOU between SIT, Antioch, Greenfield Community College and Keene State to form a Knowledge Consortium Higher Education Partnership with research and degree opportunities.
- A regional job board and targeted marketing through a Southern Vermont Sustainable Marketing and Recruitment Program, using big data to attract visitors and promote opportunities to people we need, with a desire to enjoy SoVermont’s lifestyle every day.