Arvada Chamber of Commerce
Kami Welch is President and CEO of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce in Jefferson County, Colorado and a key partner in Grow Jeffco, a collaboration of the K-12 system, community colleges, economic development, chambers, non-profits, and workforce development organizations.
Jeffco has opened the first of a planned 20 career hubs in high schools across the county. The aim is to reduce the disconnect and inequity between school-to-career awareness and employment opportunities.
“We hear from our businesses pretty regularly that their talent needs aren’t being met, that people don’t have the skills they need when they’re coming into the workforce. The biggest challenges that we’re facing is really that misalignment. We’re embedding into the high school system the idea of career training and readiness.
“The biggest thing for me about the incubator sessions is that it’s been great to build a network of other people that care about this work across our country, and being able to share resources.
“There was a session devoted to funding. People talked about how they were funding their work and really thinking about sustainability, to ensure that we’re not just a one-hit wonder and that we’re all thinking long term.
“Hearing different perspectives is really helpful because if somebody’s made that mistake before me, I can learn from them and not repeat it.
“It’s actually essential to build networks like this. I think we all are better for it and making sure that we build that structure of people we can call upon and learn from is what is ultimately going to ensure our success in this work.
“Sustainability is such a key piece and I have genuine concerns that we’re all doing really great work right now. But we need to make sure we continue it and with the same vigor that we have today. This is a good motivation tool.”