The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce works tirelessly to advocate for local business for both members and future members. This is accomplished through numerous channels including the traditional advocacy through legislation, where we represent business concerns to local, regional, state and federal entities – but we also advocate for businesses in a way you might not expect.
The Chamber listens to our members and the business community in many ways. Through direct outreach, networking events, Chamber committees or community collaborations, we often hear employers echo the same concerns pertaining to staffing their businesses or addressing their workforce needs. We hear that businesses are becoming increasingly worried about their staffing levels and their ability to fill open positions within. The Chamber knows the importance of a healthy business community and with information gathered from employers, we are able to connect with local organizations to work towards a solution.
Our Chamber represents and advocates for business needs when partnering with School District 51, Colorado Mesa University and Western Colorado Community College through workforce initiatives. Workforce Development has been focus for many years but is a highlight for our Chamber throughout 2023. With workforce development as a priority, our Chamber staffs our very own Workforce Development Coordinator who works regularly with training providers and educational institutions to share and represent the needs of businesses. D51 has several advisory councils throughout the area high schools that continue to loo for input on what skills and experiences they can be offering their students. The Chamber attends these meetings and relays the needs of the business directly to our Valley’s teachers, the front-line workers who are responsible for educating and preparing students to be successful as your future staff.
A worry that plagues businesses and is often discussed during these councils is the recognition of a skill gap in our community and throughout the nation. This difference between the skills that employers are looking for and the training and experience those candidates possess is called the “skills gap.”
All of us have watched the drastic changes in the employment market, but the reality is little has been done to erase the underlying skills gap. The Chamber remains committed to continuing to forge a better alliance between education and employment, look for ways to invest in workforce outreach and training and help support employers in their recruiting efforts of nontraditional pools of talent like students. Business do not need to wait around for the skills gap to close on its own. Instead, they can take matters into their own hands by providing extensive onboarding and regular workforce development programs.
Local businesses have the unique opportunity to make an impact on the education of our future workforce. It is not just about trying to bring jobs to the Grand Valley or connecting individuals to jobs that exist; but rather brainstorming how to enhance existing career pathways. We have also been exploring new avenues and grant funding that will allow us to focus on building the existing efforts in organizing, advocating, and growing multi-sector collaborations that will connect our community to more workforce related opportunities.
Whether your workforce is on a manufacturing floor, auto garage, medical clinic, or office building, it is imperative to continue to invest in workforce development. If you would like to get involved with the development of our future workforce or your business is experiencing workforce concerns, please contact Kirstin Maska at firstname.lastname@example.org.