The notion of WAM got started around 2 years ago with a panel discussion for the UCCS Economic Forum of 2015, which focused upon workforce and the skills gap. A group of various community leaders including Pikes Peak Workforce Center, Pikes Peak Community College, the UCCS Economic Forum, the Chamber & EDC, Harrison School District, and others came together to talk about various workforce issues. These include why our region has a persistently lower ratio of people participating in the workforce as compared to the U.S., why we have various job categories that have a consistently high number of vacancies, and what we as a community can do to better train people who want to work, but who feel they don’t have the right skill set. There is also the issue of how to train and retain our youth for the full spectrum of jobs, including middle-skills jobs.
Our group was amazed at how simply sitting in the room together enabled some key connections to be made in terms of the sharing of critical information. For example, how can we better connect employers to leadership at high schools who are pursuing and building more career track programs? How can we make it easier for job seekers, employers, and students to find all of the rich resources we have locally and across the state that can help them in their various workforce-related pursuits? We started calling ourselves the Workforce Dream Team (see photo), which by the way was all women, and we thought something like an asset map could really help in terms of organizing all of the workforce information in a user-friendly way. All of the partners and a few new partners (including some men!) joined in and made this a reality. For a full listing of all the valuable partners, please see the bottom of the home page.