Labor Day is around the corner, and, in observance of America’s working men and women, the Pikes Peak Workforce Center is celebrating September as Workforce Development Month.
Greg Starks, the educational services coordinator for the center, said that September’s work force designation is a part of a Colorado statewide initiative to promote business services to the community.
The center is hosting a series of free educational events and open houses starting on Sept. 2 with guest speaker, Mike Boyd, managing editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal.
Boyd will address the changing business environment in Colorado Springs. On Sept. 14, George Flynn will provide information about Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for safety issues in the workplace.
Educating the business community to the issues is just one aspect of the Springs’ Workforce center. Another key component of the center is intercepting continuing education opportunities for its clients.
Starks said the center’s educational services team assists clients with skills upgrades, certifications and re-certifications and educational opportunities.
“For example, we help Internet technology people retool themselves, if they’ve been out of the workforce for a while,” he said. “Some people have not kept up their certifications, like HVAC, and we give them direction on how to obtain the certificates, along with funding in the way of scholarships.”
Starks said the shortage of nurses and nurses’ aids has created a push for health care employees and health care instructors.
The Workforce center offers scholarships to students who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing and to teachers who need a master’s degree to teach those college-level nursing courses.
“Our most current initiative involves scholarships for faculty and students in an effort to provide a pipeline for the critical shortages,” Starks said. “We also assist entry-level job seekers attempting to obtain certifications as CNAs (certified nursing assistants) and LPNs (licensed practical nurses).”
The center also provides online education for GED candidates, and, in coordination with Pikes Peak Community College, assists clients in securing overall entry-level positions through a college course fast-track program offered at the school.
While the center focuses on educating and finding employment for its clients, outreach to the community and the businesses is equally important to let people know what is available, Starks said.