Editorial: Communities should join in study of labor shortage, solutions

Government and economic-development officials along the Northern Front Range should join in a study of the region’s labor force.

Such a study, envisioned by the Economic Development Association of Longmont, would help define the level of skills that exist along the Front Range, determine what “skill sets” are needed by the region’s employers, and reveal what commuter patterns exist that take workers from one community to another. It also could devise a regional approach to alleviating the problem.

examining what assets we have, we’ll also determine in what industries we should recruit workers and help define what skills are needed not during the next decade necessarily but at least what are needed in the present.

Some officials have contemplated studies that look only at one community or another, but that approach ignores the increasing interdependency of communities in this region. Longmont boasts major employers in Weld County; Greeley workers are apt to live in Fort Collins, Loveland or Windsor and vice versa; companies in one community likely have operations in other nearby towns and cities as well.
Increasingly, these are not separate, distinct economies. The globalization of world trade has a microcosm in Northern Colorado, where we see a regionalization of local trade. What benefits one community benefits them all, and what adversely affects one town adversely affects them all.
The shortage of entry-level and skilled labor is not a shortage faced by one town or city; it’s faced by all. Local businesses, economic-development agencies, government officials and educational institutions should invest whatever funds are necessary to conduct a study of the labor situation so that we might craft the best possible plan for solving it.