Elevating Industry Voices Through Sector Partnerships

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By Bobbie Wolfe, CWDC Senior Consultant - Sector Partnerships & Industry

March 21, 2024 - Sector partnerships in Colorado offer a space for industry leaders to work collaboratively with education, workforce development, economic development, and community organizations to address the workforce and other competitiveness needs of their industry. The magic to me is that this environment intentionally prioritizes industry’s voice. I like to say that effective sector partnerships are industry-centered, community-supported, and worker- and student-informed.

When I was a fresh graduate out of college, I remember feeling drawn to bootcamps and training programs that promised certifications that would give me a leg up in the hiring process without being overly expensive. However, many of these programs did not have businesses committed to hiring participants, let alone businesses who viewed these certifications as necessary for hire. I felt lost and overwhelmed not understanding how I was going to grow my skills. Especially as someone who had moved to Colorado away from my support network, how was I going to find my path? What resources were the right resources?

Tech Talent Denver members sitting around a table during a recent meetingWhat if instead of developing programming and then working to have industry buy-in, our ecosystem worked in a new way?

At the recent Tech Talent Denver meeting, I was moved to hear Denver’s C-Suite tech leaders share:

  • “I had no idea there were all these organizations, people, looking to help me with my recruitment and retention issues. This workforce ecosystem is so large!”
  • “I wish I had an opportunity to give feedback on training programs, some aren’t exactly meeting my needs as a business.”
  • “This is an opportunity for us as an industry to be co-developers of talent!”

And it is – it is an opportunity for industry to identify what challenges they face and how they might work in a collective way, a new way, to implement solutions. Solutions that benefit not only businesses, but individuals who want to find their next steps or continue forward in their current career. From skills-based hiring to apprenticeship, industry is coming together across Colorado to leverage state and federal resources for their talent needs. And, industry is naming the direction they want to go instead of being pulled in a direction they aren’t ready for.

Colorado has 25 active sector partnerships and growing. Across the state, it is eye-opening to see different regional efforts tackling shared issues, such as workforce development, from different angles.

Tech Talent Denver is solidifying their priorities, with skills-based hiring and competencies being areas of focus from their recent meeting. Metro-West Advanced Manufacturing Alliance has dug deeper on competencies for machinists. The Early Childhood Education Sector Partnership has found impact with a new apprenticeship program with Pueblo Community College. The Northern Colorado Health Sector Partnership successfully held the 2nd Nurse Well Being Conference to provide tools and resources to their region’s nurses. And the list goes on!

I am hopeful that with industry having the opportunity to share feedback on programs to meet their business needs, workers and learners will also have trusted and vetted training programs within their reach that directly meet their needs for skill and career growth. Through sector partnerships, businesses are able to more easily hear about best practices that can help them grow their own talent and attract new employees (hello: job quality). And, partners in economic development, education, workforce development, and community organizations have a streamlined process of sharing and developing resources with industry partners.

Want to engage with sector partnerships across the state? Join our community of practice calls to learn about new opportunities and insights, address collective challenges, and share promising practices. View the 2024 community of practice schedule and register for upcoming calls.