Fort Collins-Loveland Region has a Labor Challenge

Feb 21, 2017 | Business & Economy, Business-Friendly Environment, Economy, Talent

Last week, a local coalition of organizations released a 60-page document titled “TALENT 2.0: Regional Workforce Strategy, Fort Collins-Loveland Metro Area.

Don’t be put off by the dry, academic-sounding title. It’s actually an historic document, the first-ever workforce development plan for the Fort Collins-Loveland area. And the data is saying loud and clear to community and business leaders that we better get focused on workforce.

A few nuggets:

  • Over the next five years, area employers will have a least 28,000 job openings to fill. At the same time, the labor market adds 2,000 to 3,000 workers each year. Conservatively, the consulting team (Austin-based T.I.P Strategies) estimated a “projected worker shortfall of at least 5,000.”
  • Almost one-quarter of all workers in the Fort Collins-Loveland area are 55 or older.
  • Of 131,787 employed residents in Larimer County, 38 percent commute outside the county to work. That’s 51,235 people.
  • We are 7th in the nation in under-employment..

So, to summarize, many employers are already struggling to find the talent they need, the Baby Boomers are bailing out of the workforce, making the problem worse, while at the same time many residents are working below their education levels or leaving town to find gainful employment.

Add it all together and this means economic trouble, if left unaddressed. Companies that can’t meet their labor needs in a locale expand or relocate elsewhere.

The members of the coalition that developed the Talent 2.0 plan were generally aware of these challenges and decided to better understand them and develop an action plan to work on them.

The partners are the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County Economic Development Office, Larimer County Workforce Center, City of Loveland Economic Development Office, Loveland Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Colorado Economic Alliance, United Way of Larimer County, and my organization, the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce.

The vision we created is “A dynamic labor market with a strong talent pipeline that supports employers’ current and future needs and provides residents with good career options and opportunities to improve their skills.”

The plan has three broad goals:

  • Actively support employers in finding, attracting and retaining the talent they need.
  • Align education and workforce resources more closely with the business community and the local talent pool.
  • Collectively address structural issues that serve as barriers to a secure talent pipeline.

Under these there are over two dozen specific goals and programs.

An example is the development of a talent portal with information about the area and specific tools employers can use in their recruitment efforts. Another is called ‘The Underemployment Project’ to help employers identify underutilized talent and create resources for underemployed people.

You can find a copy of the plan and other related information at

The caliber of our labor force determines the success of our employers which in turn creates the strong economy that pays for the quality of life amenities we want. We need to get this right and this plan is a good start.

We need your help refining and implementing Talent 2.0. Let us know how you want to participate.