(August 3, 2021) Arvada, CO – Today the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with an action team of education, business and non-profit partners, announced the release of a Work-Based Learning Toolkit to help guide businesses through the terminology, data, roles, benefits and action steps of work-based learning (WBL).
WBL opportunities connect local students and adults with businesses in an intentional way to engage in real-world work experiences. These opportunities can take the form of introductory experiences like industry tours, internships and job shadowing, to career prep training in the form of apprenticeships and certifications. When optimized fully, WBL is an equitable, flexible approach for employers of all sizes, industries, and locations to engage and upskill the community’s talent pipeline and directly serve the needs of the local economy.
WBL is critical to the local economy as employers typically lean heavily on education and non-profit systems to define expectations around workforce readiness. This outdated model leads to a lack of clarity and consistency in training and essential skill development. In a much-needed systems shift, businesses should serve as leaders around skill requirements and demand – and most importantly, must give career guidance and preparation opportunities.
The Work-Based Learning Toolkit was developed as a missing guide for businesses to take the first step in this skill-development shift. The Arvada Chamber convened expert industry and education leaders to create a toolkit that would best serve the needs of our businesses and the workforce. Designing a roadmap for all local businesses to engage in WBL is necessary, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reports that 78% of hiring managers say a skills gap persists in their industry.
“A skills and people gap means that employees are not prepared to meet the needs and grow the economic base of Arvada and Jefferson County,” says Kami Welch, President of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce. “Strategic engagement in work-based learning opportunities by our businesses can help identify and strengthen the long-term needs of the local talent pipeline.”
In Arvada—and across the country—businesses are struggling to find candidates with the necessary hard and soft skills. For the third straight year, “Finding Skilled Employees” is the top challenge for businesses in Arvada, according to the Arvada Chamber’s annual survey. Employers engaging with WBL opportunities is a large component to achieving true systems change with workforce development that the Arvada Works program sets out to achieve. With the release of this toolkit, the Arvada Chamber’s goal is for 100 local businesses to take the workforce engagement survey and help advance our talent pipeline through WBL.