Colorado Coming Together To Bridge The Skills Gap

LITTLETON, Colo (CBS4) – Colorado’s unemployment rate is a remarkably low 2.5 percent. Many Colorado companies are having a hard time finding Colorado graduates who are qualified to fill the jobs they have open. That’s creating an influx of workers into the state. Now there is a push by education, business and government to come Together 4 Colorado to provide the skills for this hot job market.

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Nick Zeggert works at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton.

“I work on RF communication payloads for government all the way through commercial satellites,” Zeggert told CBS4.

He got his training as a co-op student working nearly full time at the aerospace giant while still going to school at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

“Getting the hands on, actual experience through the co-op has been invaluable,” Zeggert explained.

skill gap problem 2 Colorado Coming Together To Bridge The Skills Gap

Nick Zeggert at Lockheed Martin (credit CBS)

Zeggert needed specific skills in technical manufacturing that are not traditionally taught in Colorado’s universities. Companies, like Lockheed Martin, have turned to training their employees on the job.

“From a production operations standpoint, what we’re looking for is a talented pool that can understand the latest in manufacturing technology,” said Brian O’Connor, Vice President of Production Operations at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.

skill gap problem 1 Colorado Coming Together To Bridge The Skills Gap

(credit CBS)

These high paying, good benefits jobs could create a thriving home-grown middle class. But right now in Colorado, companies have to recruit their workers from outside the state.

“The problem you have is when you recruit from external environments, they come here, work for a couple of years, and then they want to go back to their home area,” O’Connor explained.

skill gap problem 4 Colorado Coming Together To Bridge The Skills Gap

CBS4’s Jim Benemann speaks with Brian O’Connor, Vice President of Production Operations at Lockheed Martin. (credit CBS)

The social networking site LinkedIn tracks the 138 million business professionals who use its site. A recent workforce report shows Denver is second in the nation for workers moving here. LinkedIn found Colorado has the seventh biggest skills gap in the nation, and that advanced manufacturing and quality management are second on the list of skills lacking in Colorado.

skill gap problem 3 Colorado Coming Together To Bridge The Skills Gap

(credit CBS)

“If we can be in a situation that we can grow our own talent from the local area, they’re going to stay, they’re going to become long-term employees, stick with us, become those subject matter experts that are going to be game changers in the future,” O’Connor told CBS4.

Businesses like Lockheed Martin are working directly with educators and government to bridge this skills gap. CBS4 explores those relationships and the programs they’re producing Monday and Tuesday on CBS4 News at 10.

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