County, BMCC to Tackle Skilled Workforce Deficit

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The Umatilla County Board of Commissioners has announced a new partnership with Blue Mountain Community College to address the need for skilled workforce development and training.

Over the past several months, county officials have identified the need for skilled workforce for existing businesses and for potential new businesses interested in locating in the county.

Commissioner Bill Elfering has met with many business owners and state and local officials.

“The demand for skilled workforce and skilled work force training is a high priority in the private sector,” said Elfering. “We believe the county and BMCC can help fill that niche which will lead to business expansion and recruitment for family wage jobs.” The commissioner went on to note the workforce issue appears to be second only to a shortage of housing in the county – particularly on the east side.

BMCC has already taken several steps to respond to the county’s workforce development requests, namely adding programs for public sector leadership and public sector customer service, to strengthen worker skills in those areas.

As a next step, the county and BMCC will contract with Susan Bower, owner of Eastern Oregon Business Source, to conduct a more thorough study of skilled workforce needs of employers and industry.

“There are some excellent economic development programs going on throughout Umatilla County that deal with the creation of jobs, helping local businesses expand, and helping bring new businesses to our area,” said Commission Chair George Murdock. “There are also some excellent programs to help re-direct workers. Our interest isn’t in duplicating those efforts but rather to assure we have a sufficient supply of skilled workers. We continually hear from local employers that there is a desperate need for individuals with specific skills.”