May: Ramping up talent recruitment and development

Nearly every employer in Northern Colorado has challenges finding the talent they need. The problem is not unique to us; it’s a state and national issue, as well.

The areas of the country with a coordinated strategic talent-workforce development plan will be OK. Those that don’t will be talent exporters.

In that light, it was very encouraging to see the workforce development boards of Weld and Larimer counties meet jointly during the last week of February. To my knowledge, it’s the first-time ever these two groups have met.

Meeting and talking mean nothing without action, but to me it is a sign of strong leadership by both groups and an awareness of the economic imperative to get in alignment on talent. 

At this meeting, I was asked to brief the two boards on Talent 2.0, a talent- workforce development initiative and partnership focused on the Larimer County side of the region.

Talent 2.0 started in 2016. It was the follow-up to a study done two years earlier by the city of Fort Collins. In addition to updating the data, the purpose was to create a workforce plan.

The original consortium of Talent 2.0 partners included the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, city of Fort Collins, Larimer County Workforce Center, One NoCo, Loveland Chamber of Commerce, city of Loveland, and the United Way of Larimer County.

The Talent 2.0 alliance pooled its time, expertise and money. We hired a consultant to guide us through the creation of a plan. It compiled extensive data about the area and the workforce. Additionally, it interviewed 50 area companies to get a ground-level view of what they are facing.

The report was published in February 2017. A copy can be downloaded from the Talent 2.0 alliance’s website at www.NoCoTalent2.com.

The findings were not surprising but did bring some clarity to the size of the problem.

First, the report confirmed the difficulty of hiring people. From 2010 to 2015, the regional economy added almost 20,000 jobs but only 11,000 workers.

Second, there would be a continued tightening of the labor market. Over the period of 2017 to 2021, employers would have at least 28,000 job openings to fill. The labor force adds only about 2,000 to 3,000 workers each year. A continuation of this trend would leave a shortfall of workers.

Third, the labor force is aging. In many key occupations, more than 25 percent of the workers are 55 or older.

The result of the Talent 2.0 alliance’s work was publication of a multi-pronged plan to begin addressing these challenges.

Work so far has primarily focused on developing some tools employers can use in their recruitment efforts. Some of those can be found on the above mentioned website. Next month, a new talent portal will be launched called Working in Northern Colorado.

That’s all the shiny, relatively easy stuff.

Now the timing is right to build a coordinated regional talent development system with even more of a private sector and demand-driven focus. Though we have some employer input, we still lack sufficient understanding necessary to fully help key industry sectors mobilize effective recruitment, development and retention strategies.

That will change. Many organizations are focused on this challenge and continue to align.

A big thank you to Eric Lea of Robert Half and David Thompson of FMS Bank, chairs of the Larimer and Weld workforce development boards, respectively. Thanks also to Jacob Castillo and Tami Grant, the key Larimer and Weld county staff leaders.

This is the kind of leadership the region will need to help its employers.

David May is president and CEO of the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce.

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Read related stories in BizWest’s special report: Workforce Woes. Published in March 2019.

Nearly every employer in Northern Colorado has challenges finding the talent they need. The problem is not unique to us; it’s a state and national issue, as well.

The areas of the country with a coordinated strategic talent-workforce development plan will be OK. Those that don’t will be talent exporters.

In that light, it was very encouraging to see the workforce development boards of Weld and Larimer counties meet jointly during the last week of February. To my knowledge, it’s the first-time ever these two groups have met.

Meeting and talking mean nothing without action, but to me it is a sign of strong leadership by both groups and an awareness of the economic imperative to get in alignment on talent. 

At this meeting, I was asked to brief the two boards on Talent 2.0, a talent- workforce development initiative and partnership focused on the Larimer County side of the region.

Talent 2.0 started in 2016. It was the follow-up to a study done two years earlier by the city of Fort Collins. In addition to updating the data, the purpose was to create a workforce plan.

The original consortium of Talent 2.0 partners included the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, city of Fort Collins, Larimer County Workforce Center, One NoCo, Loveland Chamber of Commerce, city of Loveland, and the United Way of Larimer County.

The Talent 2.0 alliance pooled its time, expertise and money. We hired a…