Workforce Issues: Collaborating to Build Extension’s Capacity

PI: Kenneth Sherin (South Dakota State University)
Co-PI: Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel (University of Nebraska)
Awarded: $8,571


Project Abstract

Globalization has laid the foundation for an increasing skills gap in the US labor market. Communities, regardless of their size and location, have to compete for skilled workers. Attracting and retaining talent, both in the foundational STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas as well as in vocational skills, is a subject of increasing concern. This has not gone unnoticed by Extension. Several states in the North Central region have been working on specific workforce issues within their state but there has been limited conversation about how these resources could be pooled or what gaps exist. Multi-state collaborations in this area offer obvious efficiencies and yet untapped opportunities for effectiveness. This project proposes to: 1) initiate a regional Extension dialogue on possible methods to support the development of local workforce skills at the community level; 2) start to identify and inventory key current workforce development resources, primarily within Extension and this region and possibly within other regions; 3) identify gaps, primarily programmatic but possibly in research, that would help communities better address workforce skill issues; 4) modify, if needed, possible resources for multi-state use and consider ways to make resources available in a “one-stop shop”; and 5) disseminate what the project learns and compiles through a 2017 pre-conference workshop at NACDEP.