By Robin Sessions Cooley, J.D., Director, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services
September is National Workforce Development Month, and on Sept. 14, 2020, Wyoming’s own Senator Mike Enzi co-introduced the bipartisan resolution introducing this important designation.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on jobs and employment across the country,” Sen. Enzi said. “Now more than ever, it’s important to ensure that folks have access to and are qualified for good-paying jobs.”
It is for this reason and in the spirit of National Workforce Development month that the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services is highlighting the opportunities it has to improve Wyoming’s workforce. For instance, are you looking for the most up to date job postings across Wyoming? Need to learn the best way to highlight your qualifications, while also polishing your interview responses and resume? Would you like to visit with a person knowledgeable in what to wear for an interview that is most likely to impress employers? What about the always important question about financial assistance and available funding sources to help you pursue additional education and training? There is a one-stop office in your community that can provide you with all this information and much more. It is your local Jobs and Career Workforce Center, which you may have previously referred to as the local “unemployment office.” A vital, skilled and robust workforce means stronger businesses, and your Workforce Services team refuses to sit on the sidelines when the needs around the state are so urgent. We can help in more ways than providing unemployment insurance.
20 Jobs and Career Centers in your communities: The Department of Workforce Services staffs 20 Job and Career Centers â€“ or Workforce Centers – across the state to help job seekers polish resumes, practice for job interviews, dress for success, receive specialty training, look for better job opportunities, and even help provide financial assistance to get additional education to advance in a career. Using our “WyomingAtWork.com” job search engine, we help job seekers filter thousands of potential jobs down to those that best fit their skills, interests and location preferences.
Wyoming Business Training Fund grant opportunities: Our clients don’t only include job seekers; we are ready to assist Wyoming businesses in filling their vital needs to hire qualified, skilled and ready-to-work employees. Companies use our services to find quality applicants for jobs they desperately need to fill, and they also can access Workforce Development Training Fund grants to help offset the costs of training needed employees with a variety of specific skills. Last year, our Workforce Development Business Training Fund Grants helped to support and pay for training opportunities for 233 Wyoming businesses in 16 industries across the state, providing a total of $1,463,165.67 in funding assistance for these training opportunities. We also work with community economic development agencies across the state to attract business to Wyoming by identifying funding opportunities to train the workforce once the company commits to Wyoming.
Industry-Driven Next Generation Sector Partnerships: Another innovative initiative the Department of Workforce Services is partnering with is Next Generation Sector Partnerships (NextGen). These statewide partnerships are driven by industry and supported by key collaborators, including the Workforce Development Council, the Wyoming Department of Education, the Wyoming Business Council, and the Wyoming Community College Commission. Government and community partners listen, learn, and then spring to action to help support these locally identified private sector priorities. Rather than relying on government to develop priorities for Wyoming’s private sector, NextGen’s strength is having the people most connected to the work (Wyoming businesses) lead the charge.
NextGen has launched twelve industry sector partnerships across Wyoming regions since August of 2018, a rate of growth faster than any other state. These partnerships included four in health care, three in manufacturing, three in construction, and one each in finance/insurance and hospitality and tourism. These NextGen partnerships have launched more than 25 new industry-led workforce, education, and economic development initiatives so far.
We are so much more than just an unemployment insurance office: We understand that our local staff in your community Job and Career Workforce Centers have traditionally been looked to as the folks who rush in to provide services when there is a significant layoff in your Wyoming community. Indeed, we have Rapid Response teams that are ready to move on a moment’s notice to meet with those who have lost their jobs, and the department administers unemployment insurance to folks who have been laid off. These services are our stalwarts to provide that bridge to help employees survive lean times until they find new employment. But that is just a small part of the help we can give both employees and businesses to put people to work and help companies find valuable employees to fill needed positions.
We are helping to move the needle in Wyoming toward a skilled and engaged workforce while also supporting businesses diversify and grow. If you haven’t worked with your community Job and Career Center, please consider this your invitation to partner with us during National Workforce Development Month to explore our host of services. By pulling together to address Wyoming employee and business needs, we can make Wyoming stronger and ready to face the future with resilience and optimism. We look forward to seeing you soon.