New collaboration to bridge workforce skills gap in Colorado Springs

Posted at 6:23 PM, Apr 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-10 20:23:05-04

In Colorado Springs employers say the jobs are there, but in many cases, qualified workers are not. 

However, a new partnership in the city is trying to bridge the skills gap between graduates and employers as the population continues to grow. 

Tatiana Bailey, director of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Economic Forum, says the partnership is an off-shoot of the Workforce Asset Map or WAM. It’s an online tool that launched a few months ago. The one-stop shop aims to help job seekers, employers, and students find access to workforce-related resources in the Springs. It’s something that continues to be an issue for people in those groups. 

"It was several years for me before I was able to land like a career in my field."

It’s a problem Jesse Mutzebaugh faced about 10 years ago when he graduated from college. 

Mutzebaugh said, "You’re not really sure what employers are looking for and what employers want."

It’s a problem undergraduates are still facing today, something that a new collaboration is now working to fix. 

Jake Eichengreen, executive director of the Quad Innovation Partnership, said, " There are a lot of high-skilled positions that really require technical training to be able to succeed in them."

Part of the collaboration includes the Quad which pairs local college students with area employers, aiming to train them up and keep in Colorado Springs. It’s a move that would also help to replace a generation of workers coming up on retirement. 

Bailey said, "We are a city that is going to be about a million people within the next 20-25 years. If we want to be economically prosperous and we want to have sustainable growth we have to be a diverse economy."

That means training students properly for the top jobs of today, something Bailey says, currently, is not being done. 

"The top ten are consistent: registered nurse, software engineer and so forth, but then we started to juxtapose that to the graduates in those different programs and we realized that there’s a huge chasm."

It’s a conversation that Bailey and other community leaders started more than a year ago. The group is now working together to find a resolution. 

Bailey told News 5 the group is "looking at what are those major job openings? What are the programs here…for the job categories that we know we are not adequately training what do we need to do as a community to get those programs either built out or expanded?"

They are questions that will only be answered by bringing all players to the table: employers, job seekers, students, and universities. 

Those involved in this initiative include the UCCS Economic Forum, Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Quad, and workforce development at Pikes Peak Community College. 

People from each of these groups met on Tuesday to discuss some of the latest data on workforce issues. They say they will be organizing that information over the next two weeks, tackling the top job titles that are consistently open, and hopefully in the next few months presenting their findings to the community. 

News 5 will keep you updated.