Case Study - Pueblo Manufacturing Coordination

The Manufacturing Coordination partnership is convened by the Pueblo Workforce Region in Colorado. The focus of the initiative is the manufacturing sector in Southern Colorado, with an emphasis on intermediate and high level technical and professional skills development, specifically in the electrical and mechanical maintenance, quality assurance, and operational efficiency occupations. The partnership also has a secondary focus of developing a Manufacturing Center of Excellence, which will engage in local research and development, technology transfer, entrepreneurship, maintenance of career pathways from school to work in manufacturing, sustainable practices as they relate to process efficiencies, and access to financial resources.

Key partners in the initiative include the workforce Center, Pueblo Community College (PCC), Colorado Association of Manufacturing and Technology (CAMT), and Colorado State University-Pueblo. CAMT - as an industry association - represents unified access to employer needs. The workforce center was able to combine its own employer relationships with CAMT’s, which accelerated the process of reaching a critical mass of employers. The partnership is promoted to employers as providing them with a competitive advantage for their own businesses, and the convener is  careful to understand exactly what their needs and agendas are so that the partnership constantly provides value. By consistently delivering on their needs in any context, not just within this partnership, the workforce center builds trust, and the partnership grows from there.

One of the goals of the partnership is to secure and provide mid-level and high level technical training. To accomplish this goal, the partnership created an assessment which was used with industry. The assessment outlined a variety of skill needs which employers ranked according to their workforce needs and was completed with the employers during a face-to-face meeting. Information gained through this process was used to compare the offerings of the educational partners to the identified needs to determine which trainings were a match or may need revision to meet the needs. Training programs were revised as needed to meet employer needs, and to date 11 firms have applied to have their employees receive training through the partnership. 

The partnership has had to be agile to manage multiple partner agendas. This has been particularly the case in working with CAMT, as their scope is both regional and state level, especially with their involvement with creating the Center of Excellence, which would benefit the entire state. Together, the partners have looked for where their agendas are complementary, recognizing that there will always be some differences; the trick is to be clear about that they are.

Another aspect to agility is working with new partners. This project is regional in nature, and regionalism is complex and ambiguous. Some areas may consider themselves to be part of one region in the context of one industry for example (that industry’s labor shed) but part of another region for the purposes of community self-identity (rural vs urban, for example). This partnership has included new members, so they’ve had to forge a new regional identity together, requiring time and lots of conversations.

The third part of agility has to do with the partnership's ability to make all the parts work seamlessly within the workforce system. There are inherent funding silos and metrics attached to them that have to be made to work together, without burdening our partners with the bureaucratic details. This is all part of the partnership's goal to work at the speed of business, and why it is both an ideal and a challenge.

Click for a more in-depth description of this partnership.

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