Workforce development 101

By its very nature, workforce development is a community prosperity initiative.

After all, helping workers gain valuable skills attacks the roots of poverty. Training workers for living-wage jobs can help break the cycle of dead-end work.

What’s more, boosting the skills of Whatcom County workers helps local companies fill important jobs so they can grow.

It’s a win for everyone.

What is workforce development?

Workforce development is a set of processes by which communities can build, train and sustain a robust workforce to help ensure the fiscal health of local businesses and the people they employ.

As such, workforce development is an integral part of Whatcom Business Alliance’s plan to foster a dynamic economy in which communities, schools, businesses and policy-makers operate together in support of the local workforce.

Companies need people, and people need companies

Businesses play an integral role in workforce development. They provide immersive learning opportunities so workers can advance into higher-paying jobs with more responsibility and greater community impact. Some businesses in Whatcom County provide employer-funded education that allows individuals to advance their careers.

Businesses also need to operate in economically healthy communities, places that offer diverse housing options, quality of life, availability of services and more so they can attract and retain employees.

The relationship between individual and organization is mutually beneficial. The people in our communities — from Lake Samish to Blaine to Diablo — need businesses for things like income and health insurance. Organizations need individual workers to fulfill critical tasks and help the companies grow and expand.

This illuminates the value in developing employees from within. Through workplace development efforts — job shadow events, apprenticeship programs, immersive learning plans, trade job opportunities and on-the-job training — Whatcom County employers can find and train local youth, displaced workers and other emerging talent for important and necessary jobs, increasing their skills and value. The community gains skills and expertise while losing nothing.

How workforce development helps individuals and organizations

On the flip side, workforce development efforts help companies gain loyal, long-term talent with invaluable insight into institutional processes and plans. Successful Whatcom County companies like Birch Equipment credit some of their success to robust workforce development programs that help ensure a talented, consistent and ever-growing workforce.

Through the workforce development process, those team members gain new, valuable skills, increasing the total talent pool in the community and boosting the percentage of Whatcom County residents with livable-wage jobs.

Workforce development programs train individuals not only to succeed in currently available roles, but also to advance into the roles of tomorrow. As companies grow and expand, they train their team members to meet those growing needs.

The end result is a thriving and solid economy built from within to meet the economic challenges of today and tomorrow.

To learn more about Whatcom Business Alliance’s efforts to boost workforce development in Whatcom County, start here.