What Northern Colorado is doing to attract talented workforce

Sep 18, 2017 | Uncategorized

Finding talent continues to be one of the top two topics among business people in the Fort Collins area, with Interstate 25 being the other.

In February, a coalition of Larimer County business associations, government entities and the United Way presented a workforce plan titled Talent 2.0 Regional Workforce Strategy, Fort Collins-Loveland Metro Area. The partners included the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, city of Fort Collins, city of Loveland, Loveland Chamber of Commerce, Larimer County Office of Economic Development, Larimer County Workforce Center, Northern Colorado Economic Alliance, and the United Way of Larimer County.

The plan is data-rich but touches on a few key findings. First, over the next five years, the county will have a worker shortage of 5,000 to 9,000 people. Second, the county is one of the top places in the country for under-employment, and finally, the retirement of the so-called Baby Boomer generation will make the situation even more challenging.

Since the plan’s release, the Talent 2.0 Coalition has been hard at work. The first order of business was to decide how to get the work done. Talent 2.0 is a big endeavor, and none of the organizations are resourced to ‘own’ it. One option we discussed was creating a new entity. Instead, for now, the decision was made for the Fort Collins chamber to continue to serve as the convener but for the various partners to take the lead on specific initiatives.

In other words, the Talent 2.0 Coalition Steering Committee that developed the plan would continue to operate as a coordinated but informal working group.

The next decision was what to tackle first. There are over two dozen programs and initiatives in the Talent 2.0 plan. It’s not possible to start, much less accomplish, them all immediately. The Steering Committee selected 10 things on which to focus. They include:

  • Create a talent portal
  • Assemble community ambassadors willing to participate in talent recruitment events and activities
  • Develop a trailing spouse / partner program
  • Create a recruitment services program to support employers, including data, tools and resources they can use
  • Produce and disseminate a resource directory of existing workforce and training services
  • Enhance programs that foster direct connections between residents and employers such as internships and apprenticeships
  • Launch the “Under-Employment Project” to better connect existing residents with opportunities
  • Work with area employers to develop work plans and succession plans
  • Develop an advocacy agenda addressing barriers to workforce such as I-25, housing affordability and child care
  • Conduct an annual forum on workforce development to keep a focus on this issue

These projects are all in various stages of development and execution. In short, the work on Talent 2.0 is underway, progress is being made, and there’s a lot to do.

To learn more, the Larimer County Workforce Center is holding a Workforce Symposium on Sept. 29 at the Lincoln Center. A report on Talent 2.0 will be given during the opening general session. Cost to attend the symposium is $39, and you can register at http://larimerworkforce.org/business/workforce-symposium-2017/

Originally published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan on September 15, 2017