News

Connection Business with Training Opportunities

Posted on Aug 01, 2016

Center for Business Industry ServicesAddressing our local areas “skills gap” and increasing the opportunities for business training isn’t just a focus for our local Grant County Economic Development Council and its members.  This is a statewide initiative that has become a focus for the Washington State Legislature as well, which has formally approved High Skills, High Wages – Washington’s 10-Year Strategic Plan for Workforce Development in 2014.

Approving this plan and acknowledging this issue is just the first step.  Each year our state reviews, researches, and strategizes on plans for “Unlocking Washington’s Workforce Potential.”

“Talent and Prosperity for All: The Strategic Plan for Unlocking Washington’s Workforce Potential” (TAP Plan, 2/24/16) is a healthy, almost 600 page provisional document subject to further review, from the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board.  This document reviews the goals, the partners, and the strategies that our statewide collaborators will focus on in the upcoming years.  TAP report can be accessed at:  http://www.wtb.wa.gov/Documents/TAPPlanStrategicandOperational2016.pdf.

Key findings from a Workforce Board Employer Survey in 2013 “Skill Gap Analysis Identifies High Employer Demand Fields” (wtb.wa.gov - Workforce Board, 2016) cited that “of the estimated 60,000 Washington employers who hired in 2012, around 21 percent, or one in five experienced difficulty finding qualified applicants”.   Each year, the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board conducts an analysis that results in identifying mid-level high employer demand occupation groups.  The list of high demand occupations helps guide the investments of workforce development programs and services across our state. 

The most recent report, updated Nov. 2013, listed Manufacturing/Production as the second highest demand occupation for the 2016 – 2021 years, but was also projected as the third highest occupation in undersupply.  Locally, that impacts our ability to prosper as Agriculture, Food and Beverage Processing, Chemical, Mineral, and Metal Manufacturing are listed as the 1st, 2nd, and 4th cluster industries, respectfully, in our North Central Workforce Development Area.  *Cluster areas are designated as areas industries concentrated with regional employment as compared to the nation’s share of the employment in the same industry (aka “high location quotients).

So… we know workforce development is an issue and that it’s a priority in our state!  We have plans in place through our Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board and the system it contributes to, but how do we (local employers and community members) access the tools and the support available to us?

“Supporting initiatives in an effort to build a strong regional economy for employers by offering training opportunities,” states Beth Laszlo, CBIS Director, “is a commitment that the Center for Business and Industry Services (CBIS) through Big Bend Community College (BBCC) has made to our local service district”.  Industry partnerships with CBIS assist with providing “skills gap” support for employers to seek out training and retraining opportunities in order to keep their competitive industry edge while providing transferrable skills  or “upskilling” their own workforce.

As a member of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), BBCC’s   Center for Business and Industry Services has access to (tools), Employer training grants, loans and support:  “Community and technical colleges play a key role in the state's economic development with resources and incentives for businesses to partner with colleges to build strong regional economies,” states the SBCTC.

Washington State Workforce Programs and ServicesThe tools that CBIS can offer include: 1) an extensive Network of Experts that can assist any industry in our area with expertise and customized workforce training, 2) access to state funding (almost $2.8 million is available every year) through Job Skills and Customized Training grants (click on the links provided in Workforce Programs and Services insert), 3) onsite training can be provided or access to full service amenities located at BBCC ATEC Center are available, and 4) referrals to other professional-technical programs through BBCC to support your industry’s needs. 

During the 2015-16 year, CBIS provided 65 separate training sessions to local industries in the BBCC service district.  Almost 1600 employees received training in areas such as Effective Communications, Leadership, Microsoft Office, Project Training, and LEAN/Six Sigma. Employees received skill specific training from BBCC instructors in Welding, Basic Chemistry, and Electrical Energy Basics. Industry specific certificates included Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Supervision Skills.  Grant funding totaled over $575,000 to support training in our area.

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council and a Workforce Board member states, “In today’s economy, to get ahead, workers need the chance to learn at their job and get short term training that can be stacked together into an industry-recognized credential that helps them advance up the career ladder into higher-level, better paid positions.”

The Center for Business and Industry Services is available to assist in our local industry’s growth and to help you face your workforce training challenges proactively.  CBIS can help you look at all your options and access the funding you may need to successfully implement an annual training plan to ensure you remain competitive in a global economy.   

Center for Business and Industry Services - 509-793-2425 or email for more information at cbis@bigbend.edu.