Workforce Development Committee Strategizes to Grow the Local Workforce


Prowers Economic Prosperity’s (PEP) Business Expansion, Attraction, and Retention Committee has embarked on tours of industrial businesses in Prowers County. The goal of these tours is to better understand the needs of the local business community and determine how PEP and others in our region can provide assistance. According to business owners in Prowers County, the biggest obstacle they face in growing their businesses is the dwindling supply of skilled workers.

It is widely recognized that when workers are employed, the economy flourishes. Workers earn money, which they then inject back into the local economy, fueling its growth. We share concern about the negative effects of high unemployment rates on the local economy. The County is also anticipating a surge in demand for workers during the construction phase of transmission lines and renewable energy projects scheduled to commence in 2024–2025. This project is expected to bring in a workforce of approximately 500 to 600 individuals during the construction phase.

Additionally, Prowers County is experiencing increasing demands in the food and hospitality sectors. The opening of a new hotel and a recently renovated hotel in Lamar, as well as the establishment of new restaurants in Lamar and Holly, have created a surge in job opportunities in these industries. Furthermore, the county anticipates future growth in small manufacturing, agriculture businesses, transportation, distribution, and tourism, all of which will contribute to a further increase in the demand for skilled workers.

Data from Colorado’s unemployment statistics indicates that Prowers County has made significant progress in reducing unemployment rates, dropping from a high of 5.6% in March 2021 to just 2.3% in March 2023. However, even at this lower rate, there are still 157 workers in Prowers County who are not actively seeking employment. This aligns with a broader national trend highlighted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which points out that America is currently facing a worker shortage crisis, with many open positions lacking suitable candidates. In Colorado, there are only 58 workers available for every 100 open jobs.

To address these challenges, PEP has established a Workforce Development Committee comprising PEP Board Members, staff from Lamar Community College (LCC) and the Lamar School District, Colorado Workforce Staff, and local citizens. This committee is working diligently on devising a comprehensive strategy to grow the local workforce.

Lamar Community College is ideally positioned to play a crucial role in the workforce development efforts in Prowers County. As a local educational institution, LCC offers a diverse range of programs and courses that align with the growing job market demands in several key industries, including nursing, agriculture, business, construction trades, welding, renewable energy, and more. By collaborating closely with local businesses and industries, LCC can provide targeted training and education to equip students with the necessary skills for these high-demand fields.

The first joint initiative by the PEP Workforce Development Committee is the organization of a Job Fair and Career Expo at Lamar Community College on September 20, 2023, which will cater to high school students, college students, as well as adults in our community. The fair aims to introduce participants to various industries and provide them with valuable insights into the array of job opportunities within each sector. The event will also feature an educational component, covering essential topics such as resume writing, interview techniques, available job positions, career exploration, and individual skill and interest assessments. Participants will be matched with specific careers and job opportunities as well as information about the education and skills needed for these roles.

Courtney Morris, the Work-Based Learning Program Director at LCC, emphasizes the importance of this partnership between PEP and LCC, stating, “PEP has a wealth of knowledge about the industries in Prowers County, and showing these opportunities to the youth has become a goal for LCC and PEP. This career fair is the perfect example of new avenues to bring industry together to showcase to high school students and the community what opportunities exist locally. We hope attendees discover careers that are not as well-known in our community as well. LCC is proud to be in partnership with PEP, and we look forward to future projects with them.”

The plan is to continue the career and job exploration efforts in the spring with a hands-on learning experience at local businesses in the area. These tours will have a specific focus on job-relevant sectors, providing participants with a real-world view of the types of jobs available in Prowers County. The tours will be carefully designed to align participants with jobs that match their interests and aptitudes.

The organizers behind this workforce exploration initiative hold high hopes of creating a pipeline of skilled workers that will contribute to the growth of the local workforce and alleviate the shortage of skilled workers in the community.

The LCC/PEP Job Fair and Career Expo is scheduled for September 20th at the Lamar Community College Wellness Center. There will be a morning session for students from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and an afternoon session for job seekers from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This event presents an excellent opportunity for individuals to explore various career options and connect with potential employers. We encourage everyone to save the date and join the Workforce Development Committee in supporting the economic growth and prosperity of Prowers County. Together, we can bridge the skills gap and cultivate a thriving community.

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