LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) co-hosted a workforce development summit on Friday with the Energy Communities Alliance and Energy Facility Contractors Group that drew a diverse group of leaders from across the region.
The well-attended event brought together city and county leaders from Los Alamos, Española, and Santa Fe, tribal leaders from the Jemez Pueblo and the Cochiti Pueblo, education leaders from area colleges, including the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos and the Northern New Mexico College, and participants from the Hanford Site area in Washington state. Also attending were leaders from the EM Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) and its cleanup contractor, Newport News Nuclear BWXT-Los Alamos (N3B), and representatives from Triad National Security, which manages and operates the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
The summit provided a forum for communities surrounding EM’s LANL cleanup site to come together to focus on unique challenges they face in hiring. As EM-LA works to strengthen its workforce, the surrounding communities are doing the same and running into many of the same challenges as leaders at EM-LA and N3B. The forum gave community representatives a platform to brainstorm and collaborate with each other as well as officials from EM, N3B and Triad.
The groups acknowledged they are trying to pull new hires from the same group of applicants, which inadvertently creates competitive tension. The attendees discussed ways they could work together to fill various positions, including creating a resume-sharing system that will help each other find qualified candidates for hard-to-fill roles.
Creating a strong pipeline for the workforce of the future was a main focus. Attendees talked about the need to help students identify job opportunities and guide them toward a future science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related career path.
Participants noted that many graduating high school students are not aware of workforce development training opportunities, grants and career opportunities available through local employers such as N3B. Local leaders acknowledged they must work together with DOE and its contractors to ensure their communities are aware of those programs, which will enable students to remain local while excelling in rewarding careers.
The leaders discussed the importance of emphasizing the power of tech and trade schools to students, who are sometimes pressured into attending college. Attendees argued they must find ways to help both teachers and students consider alternative education and career opportunities.
EM plans to host similar workforce development summits with other community leaders surrounding EM sites across the DOE complex.
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