Today Jared Fisher and the #Fisher4Nevada team attended the Governor’s Workforce and Innovative Solutions Conference at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas.
We heard from several great speakers, including Bill Anderson, Chief Economist from the Research and Analysis Bureau and Bob Potts, Research Director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, before heading to two conference breakout sessions. During the breakout sessions, we learned about the benefits of apprenticeships and career technical education, and heard from several key players in the education and job training industry, such as Cheryl Olson from Nevada’s Apprenticeship Program, Dr. Michael Spangler, the Dean of School of Advanced and Applied Technology at the College of Southern Nevada and Frank Woodbeck, Vice Chancellor at Workforce Development at Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE).
Nevada Students Entering the Workforce Frequently Lack “Soft Skills”, Panelists State
Much was covered during the conference, but one of the biggest takeaways from the four and a half hour event was Nevada’s need to produce a workforce with what moderator and Senior Economist at the Office of Workforce Innovation (OWINN), Zach Heist, referred to as “21st century skills.”
According to Frank Woodbeck, one of those 21st century skills Nevada’s recent graduates often lack include “soft skills”, such as communication, conflict resolution and even simply “showing up to work on time.” As Woodbeck told a crowded room of leaders from Nevada’s business and nonprofit sectors, when he asks employers what skill set they wish more of their employees were competent in, “consistently soft skills would come out (in the conversation).”
“Soft skills are no longer emphasized in our education programs,” explained Woodbeck. “We have an interesting challenge,” he continued, speaking about the difficulties some students have with the transition from remedial education to the workforce.
One possible tool that students can use, suggested Woodbeck, is the online resource Career Path Nevada, which offers data on which careers are currently in high demand in the state along with a list of schools that offer certification and training programs.
One of the keys to the success of sites like Career Path Nevada or Nevada STEM HUB, says Woodbeck, is building awareness and enthusiasm with parents. “We need to get parents and kids to use websites like that,” he stated.
Nevada Needs More Students and Workers with High-Tech Skills
Dr. Michael Spangler agreed that parents need to become educated about the available options so that they can act as a motivating force for their children.
Both during the breakout session and afterwards while chatting with Jared, Spangler reiterated how difficult it is to overcome stereotypes about the IT and applied technology industries, particularly with parents who often associate coursework in heavy equipment operation or automotive technology as merely preparing their children for careers in factories or auto repair. While students can go on to have great careers in both those fields, there are many other options available as well, including, according to Spangler, careers with Cirque du Soleil or jobs working with drones.
“We’re going to need skilled technical workers to make the drone industry work,” stated Spangler. “Right now the talent pool doesn’t exist.”
The same can’t be said of the demand, however. “It is a field where we’re struggling to get people to graduate because they’re getting hired before they graduate,” stated Spangler.
Hopefully conferences like this one will help encourage teachers, guidance counselors, parents and students to think outside the box and consider a career in computing or applied technologies.
About Fisher for Nevada: FisherforNevada.com is the official campaign website of Jared Fisher, a business owner running for governor of Nevada in 2018. For daily updates on issues concerning Nevadans, you can follow Jared Fisher on Facebook and Twitter. You can also tweet at Jared your questions using the hashtag #HealthyNevada.