The Importance of Workforce Development in Growing Economies: The Skagit Workforce Summit

The Importance of Workforce Development in Growing Economies: The Skagit Workforce Summit Main Photo

30 Aug 2023


In today's rapidly evolving global economy, the significance of a skilled and adaptable workforce cannot be overstated. As regions strive for economic growth and sustainability, they must recognize that the key to success lies in their ability to develop, nurture, and align their workforce with the demands of various industries. The Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County (EDASC), through its endeavors such as the 3rd Annual Workforce Summit, exemplifies the pivotal role of workforce development in fostering prosperous economies. We spoke to the Strategic Projects Manager at EDASC, Aaron Weinberg, who oversees its workforce programming.

Weinberg said, “The Skagit Workforce Summit represents EDASC’s concerted effort to facilitate connections between industry and education to develop meaningful, long-term solutions addressing the workforce shortage that everyone in the country is grappling with. EDASC also supports more immediate solutions such as in-person job fairs and an online job board, which are free to all businesses in Skagit County.”

The 3rd Annual Skagit Workforce Summit, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 20, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Northwest Career & Technical Academy, demonstrates EDASC's commitment to supporting businesses in addressing workforce challenges. The no-cost event will give employers essential insights into industry employment trends and strategies for connecting with educational institutions at all levels, ultimately creating pipelines for skilled workers.

The event gathers prominent figures from educational institutions, including the Northwest Career & Technical Academy, Career Connect NW Network at Northwest Educational Service District 189, Skagit Valley College, and Western Washington University, to share their expertise. These educational leaders will highlight collaborative efforts to bridge the gap between education and industry. The Skagit Workforce Summit fosters direct communication between employers and educators, facilitating a holistic approach to workforce development.

In a world where job market dynamics are constantly changing, businesses participating in the summit will gain actionable insights catering to their immediate workforce needs. The event provides an opportunity for employers to:

1. Access Skilled High School Interns with the NW Career & Technical Academy: The summit highlights avenues for businesses to engage with the NW Career & Technical Academy, tapping into a pool of talented high school students eager to contribute to real-world projects. This win-win interaction allows businesses to cultivate fresh talent while students gain valuable industry experience.

2. Get Involved with K-12 through the Career Connect NW Network at NW Educational Service District 189: The summit outlines ways businesses can collaborate with the Career Connect network to inspire and prepare the next generation for diverse job opportunities, filling the pipeline with a talented workforce.

3. Access Customized Training Programs with Skagit Valley College: SVC is pivotal in offering tailored training programs that equip individuals with the skills local industries require. The summit emphasizes how employers can leverage these programs to upskill their workforce efficiently.

4. Connect with Western Washington University's Career Services Center and the College of Business & Economics: For businesses seeking to tap into the potential of university graduates, the summit showcases the resources provided by Western Washington University, helping employers establish meaningful connections and collaborations with talented students and grads.

In today's rapidly changing economy, workforce development has gained immense importance. Weinberg added, “EDASC's workforce programming addresses the specific needs of local businesses and industries. Our education partners have programs that can address virtually any workforce need. One success we’ll highlight is the NW Career & Technical Academy’s fast-growing internship program, which sent 30 students through hands-on internship programs last year. Many of those students have been or will be hired.”

The culminating panel discussion at the summit, featuring the educational leaders of the day, promises to be an invaluable platform for employers to gain deeper insights and perspectives. Business owners and hiring managers will leave the event armed with practical strategies to enhance their workforce development initiatives, enabling them to stay ahead in the competitive job market.

The 3rd Annual Skagit Workforce Summit underscores the connection between workforce development and economic prosperity. EDASC's commitment to facilitating dialogue between businesses and educational institutions exemplifies how regions can cultivate a skilled, adaptable, and future-ready workforce. As economies continue to evolve, events like these underscore that investment in workforce development isn't just an option; it's necessary for thriving communities and industries. It builds personal, family, and enterprise wealth and resilience.

The summit emphasizes the necessity for collaboration between educational institutions and businesses. These partnerships benefit both parties and contribute to building a skilled and adaptable workforce that aligns with the region's economic growth.

Weinberg says, “Our education partners always seek industry partners to help inform curriculum. You don’t want students learning X when employers need Y. By working together, both parties improve the outcomes for students and employers.”

To learn more about the event and to register, visit here