It’s actually no secret: Work force help available

Of all the attributes describing the Mesa County Workforce Center in Grand Junction, Curtis Englehart would love nothing more than to eliminate one — best-kept secret.

As director of the center, Englehart wants everyone to know about the programs and resources offered there. That’s especially the case for business owners and managers who could use some assistance in recruiting and hiring employees.

For that matter, a variety of other resources are available in the Grand Valley to promote work force development — including community college programs and apprenticeship programs.

The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce highlighted those efforts during a presentation at a recent membership luncheon. They’re reported in this issue of the Business Times.

The timing couldn’t be better given what’s becoming an increasingly shallow labor pool in Mesa County and, in turn, the challenges businesses face in finding qualified applicants. As another story in this issue reports, the monthly unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent in August, the latest month for which estimates are available.

There’s some relief in the growing number of people moving from the Front Range of Colorado to the Grand Valley to escape the congestion as well as take advantage of what’s at once lower housing costs and arguably a higher quality of life.

But any long-term strategies must include efforts to develop the local work force, to offer reasons for high school and college graduates to remain and to offer training to those looking to further their careers. Fortunately, those efforts continue in the Grand Valley in a coordinated fashion.

The Mesa County Workforce Center offers a variety of programs to help businesses looking for employees and people looking for jobs. The center posts job orders and hosts hiring events as well as conducts testing and assessments.
By the way, those services are free.

Want even more? A career development program assists employers by offsetting 50 percent to 75 percent of wages paid to new hires for two to three months to determine if applicants constitute good fits.

Meanwhile, Western Colorado Community College in Grand Junction offers certificate and associate degree programs that provide training for a range of careers. WCCC also offers safety classes. If businesses need assistance in providing customized training, that’s available, too.

The CareerWise program matches high school students and businesses in three-year apprenticeship programs. The program offers participating businesses an opportunity to attract and develop talent.

Business owners and managers can read all about it — at least the big picture — in this issue. But if they can want to learn more the details, they can call the Mesa County Workforce Center, WCCC and local CareerWise program manager or check out their websites.

There’s nothing secret about local work force development efforts. No security clearances are required to obtain information. Just a telephone or computer.