Boosting the Bottom Line Through Workforce Connections

As published in the Las Cruces Sun-News

Workforce is the single greatest asset driving success for any company. Many have used the phrase, “I’m not in the _________ business, I’m in the people business.”

Attracting, hiring, and cultivating a diverse, well-qualified workforce talent is critical to any company achieving success in fulfilling their mission, whatever it may be.

Las Cruces, and New Mexico for that matter, are vastly populated by small businesses. We do also have a fair amount of mid to large employers, with our medical care providers and educational institutions being among the largest. Some companies have the resources to invest in Human Resources departments or person, but for others, it’s one of the many hats worn by the CEO.

Regardless of size or need, we have literally millions of dollars at play in our community to come alongside businesses to help them attract, hire, and advance training for talent prospective and current workers. The Workforce Connections system, fueled by federal investments through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities (WIOA) Act, is intended to come alongside those employers in ways that can be financially beneficial to business operations through a host of free services, tax credits, and reimbursement programs:

  • Job candidate search
  • Free job openings posting
  • Pre-screening of job candidates
  • Searching for veteran candidates
  • Reimbursement for training costs of new and existing workers
  • Job applicant skill testing
  • Learning new strategies for recruiting employees
  • Learning good skills for interviewing and identifying good job candidates
  • Help with analyzing and creating job descriptions
  • Understanding local wage information for jobs

WIOA is an “employer-driven system,” as our New Mexico State Plan highlights, which means understanding and meeting employer needs is pivotal to serving the system’s other customers: job seekers. Job seekers can access a host of resources from specific job skills training, resume and interview preparation, tuition assistance, on-the-job training opportunities, and job placement.

Workforce Connections can and should be a “matchmaker” for talent. 

The Bridge Board of Directors and our mission-aligned Workforce Talent Collaborative have really come to understand how important these resources are to the success of our comprehensive workforce development plan. We have woven this community resource into its proper role and context in eight workforce pathwaysand called the system into greater partnership with their customers communitywide.

Members of our Collaborative now hold leadership roles on both the state and local workforce development boards. Secretary Bill McCamley, who leads the Department of Workforce Solutions, is from our county and working to ensure that we maximize the economic development impact these dollars are intended to create.

As I’ve shared our work across the community and our state, I’ve informally surveyed employers. At a Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance luncheon, I polled the audience (primarily employers) and learned that only one in four were using the Workforce Connections system, but 94 percent were willing to do something new and different to help them attract and retain talent.

So the question is, how can we capture the maximum impact from these millions of dollars flowing into our community to create a better climate for the success of our employers? What do employers need the Workforce Connections system to help them with? For those who have had previous experiences with the Workforce Connections system, how did it go? 

As we continue working to connect the dots across our workforce talent continuum, I would love to hear your stories and opinions. If you are an employer, please send an email to me at TraceyBryan@thebridgeofsnm.orgto share your thoughts or experiences. Your input can be incredibly valuable right now, as both our state and local boards begin the process of crafting new plans for the next three years.

Increased utilization of all the resources available will help support a vibrant, growing business community for our county. And creating the optimal environment for business success benefits us all.