Romer: What’s your talent strategy as you work to grow your business? (column) |

Romer: What’s your talent strategy as you work to grow your business? (column)

Big results require big ambitions.

With local, state and national unemployment at historically low rates, and in an environment where more than half of local companies have open positions, the competition for talent is unlike anything we’ve seen.

Job growth in Colorado is expected to slow next year as an overtaxed infrastructure system and worker shortages weigh on the economy, according to the Colorado Business Economic Outlook 2018. “The economy is still strong here. We just don’t have enough labor,” said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the business research division at CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Busines.

“It will be hard to rely on in-migration to really replace these jobs. Throw on top of that an uncertain international immigration environment and you will have tight labor markets,” Wobbekind added.

Things are a little different in rural America (and yes, Eagle County is a rural community). We have to think broadly. We think programs are important, but they’re often episodic and transactional — not transformational. In our region, “the business community” is not something separate from “our community.”

This is tied to educational attainment and we’re fortunate to have an innovative approach to education with Eagle County Schools, Colorado Mountain College and nonprofits such as YouthPower 365 and CareerWise Colorado. We know, generally speaking, that students are unprepared for the “real world.” High need industries aren’t seeing enough students into their fields.

A new report from the George Washington University Center on Education Policy connects deeper learning to workforce success. The report links the knowledge, skills, abilities and work styles required for a diverse sample of 300 occupations to deeper learning competencies.

Better Preparation

Students will be better prepared for fast-growing jobs in all career sectors if they develop an academic mindset, learn how to communicate effectively and take an analytical approach to solving problems while in school, according to the study. Other skills that are essential for a wide range of jobs include learning how to learn, developing self-control and working collaboratively.

“While these skills and abilities are often called ‘soft skills,’ our study shows they have tremendous value in the workplace. Ideally all students should be given the opportunity to develop these skills and abilities as they progress through school,” said Maria Ferguson, CEP’s executive director.

Students will be better prepared for fast-growing jobs if they develop academic mindsets, learn how to communicate effectively and take an analytical approach to solving problems.

What does it mean for us in Eagle County? In a challenging labor market, we believe that the solution requires increased employee engagement, more investment in training and professional development and a conscious effort to build your own workforce. This requires a conscious and committed effort to build capacity, go deeper for talent and stretch ourselves to create an environment that helps increase employee retention, employee attraction and develops a future workforce.

Numerous programs exist to assist and provide guidance to Eagle County businesses looking to positively impact their workforce. Examples include but certainly are not limited to Actively Green, HealthLinks Colorado and CareerWise Colorado; organizations such as the Colorado Workforce Centers, Vail Centre, Small Business Development Center and Vail Valley Partnership also offer resources and programs to invest in your employees.

Together, these efforts result in helping develop a workforce to meet your business objectives. Big results require big ambitions; organizations need to invest in their current and future workforce to remain competitive in 2018 and beyond.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at

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