Collaboration plants seeds to set up local students for success.
Castle Rock and Douglas County business and education leaders are collaborating to better develop its workforce locally, setting up students for prime career opportunities that will keep them home.
“The goal is to build a bullpen of talent with education and experience to meet the needs of our business community, while, at the same time, providing good jobs and career paths for our students,â€ says Dr. Eric Dunker, associate vice president and dean of business, technology and workforce partnerships for Arapahoe Community College (ACC).
Education, community and business leaders have taken tangible steps toward that goal and more are in the works. A significant milestone came in 2019 when the ACC Sturm Collaboration Campus opened. The campus is a partnership between Arapahoe Community College, Colorado State University, the Douglas County School District and local business and industry. After receiving a historic gift of $10 million from the Sturm Family, the campus received a $250,000 gift and sponsorship by Schomp Automotive Group that was matched by the Sturms, providing a total of $500,000 for student scholarships and innovative initiatives.
Pathways to Promising Careers
The ACC Sturm Collaboration Campus provides students with pathways in business, technology, health and workforce training. It also facilitates training and dual enrollment opportunities for high school students. ACC has worked with Centura Health and Christian Brothers Automotive to provide apprenticeships that have resulted in students entering the workforce with competitive pay, experience and improved opportunities for advancement.
The Centura program, for example, allows students to start earning money as medical assistant apprentices while also taking coursework to supplement the on-the-job training. Within six months, students pass the national certification exam and then work full time in their field.
“This initiative is providing qualified frontline workforce for Centura in a more efficient manner, and that is especially important in times like this in the fight against COVID-19,â€ Dunker says.
An apprenticeship program in the field of community property management is in the works for fall 2020.
“No one growing up says they want to be an HOA (homeowners association) community manager, but we think that’s because they don’t realize that it’s an option as a career choice or what it involves,â€ says Michelle Peck, who has two decades in the community property management industry and is co-owner of TMMC Property Management.
The new apprenticeship program – the first of its kind in the nation – will change that.
“This apprenticeship will introduce this career to a new generation,â€ she says. “Housing development is going to continue, and the existing developments are always going to need community management. People in this field are required to have knowledge in everything from pools and landscaping to accounting to people and project management.”
Chamber Leads Collaboration
The Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce is embracing and leading initiatives to develop a homegrown workforce. The chamber hired its first workforce development and education coordinator, Meghan McCann, who works closely with the Sturm Collaboration Campus and is attending job fairs, events and participating in other opportunities to learn about the latest best practices in talent pipeline management.
In addition, the chamber organized a visit to Gilbert and Phoenix, Arizona, where area leaders and interested members learned firsthand about some of the nation’s most successful initiatives to develop homegrown talent.
“We were able to see the results that came from the collaboration between industry and education in a truly vibrant area,â€ says Steve Peterson, owner of Christian Brothers Automotive. “We are doing a lot of that here already, but it’s good to learn from others who are successful. We came back very excited about the opportunity to replicate some of those successes in Castle Rock and Douglas County.”
Dunker says the region is positioned to build on that spirit of collaboration.
“A mantra of ACC is that we listen to our industry partners and to our students so we can co-create pathways to get qualified talent into growth professions,â€ Dunker says.
If you’d like to learn more about the Castle Rock area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Castle Rock, CO.