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Raising the Bar: Building a skilled work force

Posted: 7:30 AM, Oct 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-21 11:34:37Z
Raising the Bar: Building a skilled work force
Raising the Bar: Building a skilled work force
Raising the Bar: Building a skilled work force
Raising the Bar: Building a skilled work force
Raising the Bar: Building a skilled work force
Raising the Bar: Building a skilled work force

Nevada business owners say one of their biggest challenges is finding candidates who have the knowledge and skills for some of the growing and diverse industries moving to Nevada.

"We don't even get a lot of applicants from Las Vegas and the ones we get just aren't qualified," Dave Rounds, CEO of Net Effect said.

As a product of both the Clark County School District and UNLV, Rounds says he'd love to hire locals at his IT company but says the ones who apply may have the technical knowledge but fall short in other areas.

"They get into some of those exams that are more real-world based than certification based and they struggle," Rounds said.

Rounds isn't alone. A recent Nevada State Bank small business survey found nearly 69 percent of owners and decision makers said it was either "somewhat" or "very difficult" to find qualified job candidates in the market.

"As much as I hate to say it, people who are coming from out of state, I wouldn't say they have preference, but they are looked at more thoroughly because we know they have a better education," Rounds said.

The small business owner said after sending three of his own children through the Clark County school system he knows the teachers are doing the best they can and says a lot of his concerns surround the rote style curriculum used around the country.

Darlin Delgado, the Principal at East Career and Technical Academy is hoping to change that by addressing areas Rounds says local candidates could improve.

"Ensuring they have those technology skills, those communications skills, problem-solving, critical thinking," Delgado said.

How are Delgado, and other CTA principals in CCSD accomplishing that goal? 
By getting students hands-on in their industry of choice.  Whether that is construction, medical, IT or any number of any skilled professions.

"It is not about just opening the book and reading and finding the answer. These kids are really hands-on solving problems," Delgado said.

Students at ECTA spend all four years of high school training in their chosen field, with Delgado's goal to make sure that every one of them graduates ready for a job and, or college.

"I really believe we are changing the trajectory not just of the student's life, the family, but also the community," Delgado said.

Jorge Fuentes is just one of those students. The senior started at ECTA after already spending time helping on construction sites.

"I'd just go to work and I'd be just putting nails in, but I didn't understand how construction worked," Fuentes said.

But three years later he has a better understanding of the industry.

"I've learned how to build a house from top to bottom," Fuentes said. "I've made blueprints for clients in other states and sell them projects."

And when he hits the construction site now, the 17-year-old says he is teaching workers three times his age.

"Usually at work when they get a new crew member, usually they assign them to me because I will show them exactly what to do," Fuentes said.

While Fuentes is in the construction program, IT students are given the same goals with courses designed so they can get key certificates before they graduate.

After hearing about the goals and curriculum, Rounds says he will keep an eye out for graduates in the future.

"Knowing that I think if we had someone that went to ECTA and especially if they had a certification with a basis already then that would be someone I'd take a hard look at,"  Rounds said. 

Delgado said ECTA relies on great teachers as well, saying the staff and parents are critical to student success.

What is Raising The Bar?

Together with parents, educators, business and community leaders, 13 Action News will lead the discussion on improving education in Southern Nevada. We will connect families with solutions that empower our community to build a foundation for a successful future. If you have a story idea, email us at raisingthebar@ktnv.com.

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