Chamber of Commerce program refines Arvada workforce

Eighty businesses reach potential employees via local program

Posted 5/29/19

When local employers came to the Chamber of Commerce, president Kami Welch noticed that, for years, many of them were saying the same thing. “They were concerned about the quantity of prospective …

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Chamber of Commerce program refines Arvada workforce

Eighty businesses reach potential employees via local program

Posted

When local employers came to the Chamber of Commerce, president Kami Welch noticed that, for years, many of them were saying the same thing.

“They were concerned about the quantity of prospective employees,” Welch said, “and that employees didn’t have the skills to be successful when they arrived.”

Sally Morris, who owns commercial roofing company Turner Morris with her husband, Tim, agreed with the assessment. She said her company has been understaffed for some time.

“Roofing is hard physical labor, and it’s hard to get workers who want to work that hard,” she said. “We really need more employees. Everyone does.”

Determined to promote a flourishing workforce in Arvada, the chamber launched the Arvada Works Talent Pipeline Program, which got off the ground last summer, Welch said.

From informational meetings to internship placements, the program provides numerous opportunities for businesses and community members to talk about what employers expect from employees, and vice versa.

“This is not a chamber initiative; it’s a community initiative,” Welch said. “We’ve seen everything from bakeries to engineering companies participate.”

Arvada Works can help anybody in the community who is looking for employment, she said, whether that person is a high school student, a college graduate or a worker interested in finding a new career path.

Throughout the past year, the program has engaged 80 local businesses and organized more than 200 meetings. Welch said it has also put a special emphasis on reaching students, including through job fairs and events in which a panel of students can speak to business-owners.

Arvada Works also partners with specific school programs, such as the Career Explore Program at Arvada High School. In that yearlong program, students spend a portion of the school day learning career-readiness skills and completing training at job sites, many of which connected with the high school through Arvada Works.

“Arvada Works has helped us with a lot of our trips and tours,” said Tamra Lowe, Career Explore director. “We can’t do it without them.”

Lowe said students selected to enroll in the Career Explore Program qualify as at-risk students, meaning they meet at least one at-risk criterion, such as having a health or family concern.

“Almost every student said, `I don’t want to go to college,’” she said, referring to those who enrolled in the program during the 2018-2019 school year.

“Yet by the end of the year, we had students with scholarships and most students looking at post-secondary education,” she said. “This really provides them the opportunity to find what’s out there.”

“We want the employers sharing information in schools,” Welch said. “It’s really creating that connection between industry and suppliers of the workforce.”

Morris said word of Turner Morris has reached a broader audience as the company has engaged in Arvada Works’s student-focused events.

“It’s really not possible to get in schools ourselves as an employer,” she said, “so I really appreciate Arvada Works for providing that pathway. This gets the word out.”

Lowe said she looks forward to working closely with the Arvada Works program during the years to come.

“I anticipate that we’re on a pretty steep trajectory of growth with them,” she said. “At this point, the sky’s the limit.”

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