Salt Lake Chamber hosted workforce summit: Removing barriers and building skills together

The Salt Lake Chamber convened business leaders and community advocates yesterday for a workforce summit to address critical shortages in the workforce.  The summit included a keynote address by Commissioner David R. Woolstenhulme of the Utah System of Higher Education, followed by three panel discussions focused on removing barriers, training & development, and workforce  infrastructure. 

“We are so fortunate to live here in the state of Utah where growth returned quickly after the pandemic recession,” said David Woolstenhulme, Commissioner Utah System of Higher Education. “Now we are facing the challenges of growth, especially the need for a reenergized workforce. Our legislature has worked diligently with us to support all types of education and training so Utahns have the skills they need to enter the workplace.”

The Salt Lake Chamber held the Summit in response to concerns about labor shortages and skills gaps in the workforce. Businesses across the state have consistent challenges finding qualified talent to help them succeed. By addressing the career ladder upfront, businesses can impact the labor force and community for good through investing in their employees. 

“Over the past year, the Chamber has heard how workforce is a top priority for Utah’s business community,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “It’s great to see so many business and community leaders gathered together to focus on discussing this issue. We must reconceptualize the meaning of work, the value of employees, and the talent pipeline flowing into our growing economy. Utah is number one in numerous categories and it will take effort to remain the best through the unprecedented disruption of how we work ”

In conjunction with removing barriers, panelists discussed the need to increase skill sets through numerous training programs available. “We have to be able to upskill and reskill during times of fragility,” said Wesley Smith, Senior Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs for Western Governors University. The world of building a more resilient workforce that capitalizes on change has arrived.”

Building on change and catching waves instead of getting washed over is important in this new environment. The way to operationalize this is through adaptive acceleration around our workforce challenges. “I am a firm believer in acceleration,” said Cyd Tetro, CEO of Brandless. For your pipeline, that means accelerating education, programs, training…we have to get behind faster acceleration at every stage in order to continue leading the nation in GDP and growth.” It is more cost effective to retain your employees and build with them instead of allowing talent departure. The cost of replacing employees in this environment is significantly higher than building your bench.