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Tahoe’s South Shore community collaborates to bridge workforce issues

Tahoe Chamber
Special to the Tribune
An estimated 75 volunteers participated in the South Shore Business Walk and interviewed around 300 business owners and managers about workforce issues.
Courtesy Photo |

Last week, March 15-16, an estimated 75 volunteers participated in the South Shore Business Walk coordinated by the Tahoe Chamber, Tahoe Prosperity Center, El Dorado County and the Lake Tahoe Adult Education Consortium to collect workforce data from local businesses.

Tahoe Prosperity Center reported that Tahoe has double-digit unemployment and poverty rates, more than 60 percent of children are on subsidized meal programs at school, and housing costs are beyond the reach of many of residents. These issues, combined with a region composed of two states, six local governments and 198 plan areas, makes economic progress challenging. Through a collaborative effort, the South Shore Business Walk succeeded in conducting interviews with 300 businesses owners and managers from Meyers to Roundhill in a survey developed to gauge how business is doing, understand workforce challenges and opportunities, anticipate workforce needs in the next 3-5 years, and analyze broadband and wireless internet connectivity issues in the South Tahoe region.

The survey included questions that asked business owners, managers and human resources professionals if they are finding the talent/employees they need to operate effective, what has been working well and what challenges they experience in the recruitment process, what skills they foresee needing in the next 3-5 years to keep their business fully operational and competitive, how important broadband is to their business, if their wireless access meets their needs, and what systems, tools, resources, or infrastructure would enable them to grow or maintain business in the next 3-5 years.

At the volunteer briefing, participants discussed overarching impressions they took away from the interviews. These included the need for employees with basic math and critical thinking skills, better customer service training, and knowledge of technology and computers. Businesses also reported having a hard time with reliability, punctuality and steady work force, credited to Tahoe’s transient culture, seasonal positions, and a younger work force drawn to Tahoe for its proximity to snow and adventure rather than career building and development.

The businesses that have had success with employment recruitment and retention said they’ve been able to study the millennial workforce and change their efforts to better recruit the incoming generation and retain them by offering a positive work culture, incentives and flexibility. Most interviewees said business has been good, as the snow has brought in the necessary tourism numbers to meet their bottom lines. Many businesses, even those not directly tied to tourism, spoke to the importance of sustaining and growing tourism. However, some stated challenges they have with traffic congestion, limited parking, signage and poor Internet in the basin. Many are looking forward to future infrastructure development initiatives that will help their business by addressing traffic congestion, promote more walk/bike path use, and create affordable housing.

Ideas from the volunteers on creating a stronger South Shore workforce included offering trade programs at LTCC, developing partnerships between businesses in a work-share program, creating a central job posting site, and training employers on millennial recruitment and retention.

The survey results will be compiled and shared in the coming months and community members can expect to see not only outcomes from South Shore, but also the entire basin since the interviews will continue on North, East, and West shores in the future. The information collected from these surveys will be used to develop strategies to create a workforce that is trained to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s employers. The LTCC Adult Education Consortium will use the data to begin planning courses and curriculum related to industry needs in the region, the Tahoe Chamber will continue to develop public workshops on customer service and leadership and support the business community in local government, and the Tahoe Prosperity Center is working to expand wireless connectivity and cell service throughout the region.


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