Nearly a month after federal unemployment benefits expired for thousands of Nevadans, government and business leaders have been aggressively pushing new workforce development initiatives.
The latest step is an employment resource center for Las Vegas residents looking for a career change or help finding a job.
Employ NV Career Hub opened Thursday at the Historic Westside School, 330 W. Washington Ave., with a ribbon-cutting by Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Councilman Cedric Crear, Councilwoman Olivia Diaz and Workforce Connections Executive Director Jaime Cruz.
The hub is focused on helping unemployed and employed residents by offering free resources such as resume and interview help, financial aid for training classes and career exploration. It is staffed by two full-time employment professionals and will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
But the career center does more than offer advice. It helps guide Las Vegas residents such as Daysha Jones through the entire job training and employment process, including plans to check in with clients throughout the first year of their new job.
Jones said she began working with Employ NV career coach Tim Williams, who works at the Historic Westside location, about a month ago.
She had been working in the medical field, but like thousands of Nevadans, she lost her job during the pandemic and decided to switch careers.
“I’ve been in the medical industry for about 10 years, so I want to do something different … something where I can work for myself,” said Jones, who is training to be a truck driver. “And I want to see more women in the trucking industry. I need to represent for the ladies.”
Willams cited the high demand for truck drivers and noted that’s one of the things the center looks at when coaching clients — is there growth and long-term job security? It also makes sure that clients are serious about their interests, because costs for things such as classes, books and even transportation, if needed, are covered by the center.
“We want to set them up for success,” he said. “We don’t say, ‘Sure, we’ll sign you up (for training).’ We ask, ‘Do you know what this entails? You might be driving interstate. It might be long haul.’ We really want you to know the background.”
Jones said that she has family and friends in the trucking industry and did her own research about the skills required before reaching out to the Employ NV Career Hub for help.
“The pandemic has changed a lot of things and it made you re-evaluate your life and what’s important and what you want to do for yourself and your family,” she said. “And what I want to do for myself and my family is see growth and not have to worry.”
A different outlook
Vegas Chamber CEO Mary Beth Sewald said a number of new and emerging industries are cropping up in the Las Vegas Valley, driving workers to learn new skills.
“There are a lot of people that want to go back to work but they need a new skill set,” she said. “They were displaced out of their original jobs and they don’t have a job to go back to.”
It’s why the chamber introduced phase one of its online job portal last week called Southern Nevada Workforce Solutions, which also provides resources for job training and employment opportunities.
Sewald said workforce development is a huge part of creating economic diversity in Southern Nevada as it will continue to attract new companies.
“We have industries new and emerging, and the whole state, frankly, and some of them in the past told us they couldn’t relocate because there wasn’t an infrastructure or the skilled workforce,” she said. “We love gaming — I mean that’s what Nevada was built on — but it behooves us to diversify our economy.”
An emphasis on workforce development outside of gaming and hospitality has been an ongoing discussion among Southern Nevada’s leaders, who see it as a path toward creating economic diversity that will lessen any impact of future recessions on residents.
“What do we need to do to build a more resilient economy?” said economist John Restrepo, principal of RCG Economics in Las Vegas. “I think the powers that be are thinking more about that than they did during the Great Recession. The lessons of the Great Recession were not learned very well and not particularly for very long. I think this time it’s different.”