Workforce development in 2020: Attracting, retaining and developing talent through collaboration

by Sioux Falls Development Foundation
Published 03/10/2020

Career, community and cause.

That’s what research shows drives decision-making for talented workers today, and those three concepts help form the cornerstone for how the Sioux Falls Development Foundation plans to build on its approach to meeting current and future industry workforce needs.

“Talent today wants to feel a career path exists for them to develop professionally and contribute to a company with purpose, and beyond that, they want to feel they can connect to a community and support causes they’re passionate about,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “Our efforts this year will put an enhanced focus on showing those career journeys from childhood through retirement and on highlighting our incredible community and the individuals who give of themselves to make it the kind of place where others will want to build their future.”

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation, backed by Forward Sioux Falls and its investors, leads the workforce development effort for the Sioux Falls community and is coming off a strong year.

“Our efforts directly support the strategic workforce action agenda of Forward Sioux Falls, and we’re proud to share the reach we achieved in 2019,” Bob Mundt, CEO and president for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. “Our plan is to expand our circle even more in the coming year through enhanced partnerships and even more strategic programming and marketing.”

“We’ve created a framework; now it’s time to build on it,” Guzzetta said. “Forward Sioux Falls, its investors, and the members of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation have a clear directive for advancing our workforce efforts as a community, and our team is energized to tackle it.”

Steve Kolbeck, South Dakota's Principal Manager for Xcel Energy, serves as one of 12 key members of the Talent and Workforce Advisory Committee to the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. He's participated in a variety of development and attraction efforts as part of the Development Foundation's Board of Directors.

"From a talent and workforce standpoint, 2019 was an excellent year for us because of our laser focus on the programming initiatives we successfully launched," Kolbeck said. "In 2020, we will continue to build on this success by continuing to enhance the participation of colleges and universities within a 250-mile area of Sioux Falls to assist more businesses by connecting them to more talent through SFDF's Talent Tours, Talent Now, and Talent Rebound events."

These initiatives meet the goals of the Forward Sioux Falls strategic workforce action agenda, which revolves around three key areas: Talent Attraction, Talent Development and Business Partnerships. Within those, the workforce development arm of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation is directly developing programming that aligns with the agenda’s seven major goals:

1.    External marketing 
2.    Talent incentives 
3.    Career-based training 
4.    Talent portal (WIN Engagement Platform)  
5.    Internal marketing 
6.    Cradle-to-career 
7.    Targeted populations (new Americans, people with disabilities, and people with a history of incarceration)

“You will see these goals and action agenda items directly reflect in where we are investing our time and resources,” Guzzetta said. “We’ve seen strong traction already and expect that momentum will continue to build.”

Here’s a preview of what to expect in 2020.

Talent attraction and retention

In 2020, the Sioux Falls Development will expand its reach for talent – tackling a 250-mile radius around Sioux Falls. That’s already occurred, even in the first quarter.

Through an enhanced relationship with the South Dakota Association of College Career Centers (SDACCC), the Development Foundation provided input on what talent is seeking – in the context of career, community and cause – and helped promote the annual Big Job Fair held in March.

“This event grew from 300 students last year to 1,000 this year, directly helping connect students from 28 schools with the opportunities that exist here,” Guzzetta said.

The Development Foundation’s Talent Tours, launched in 2019, also are off to a fast start this year.

“Over two days, we held six separate tours, connecting 163 college students to major employers as well as the city of Sioux Falls,” Guzzetta said. “We put together the programming, engaged the businesses and leveraged our relationships to identify students interested in the interested in the careers and complete pathways these businesses offer.”

The Development Foundation also plans to begin using Handshake, the online platform of choice for college students and new professionals when considering careers and early work experience.

“We’ll be utilizing Handshake to reach talent in our surrounding states to make sure they know about our businesses and the opportunities they offer for a career pathway and how they’re able to engage in our community,” Guzzetta said.

From the time a student enters the post-secondary system to graduation, the goal is to have multiple touchpoints with students to reinforce the value of living and working in Sioux Falls, she added. These can occur digitally, through direct outreach on campus and through coordinated events such as Talent Tours and social opportunities.

The annual Talent Draft Day, organized by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, kicked off last year with 631 participating high school and college students and 26 businesses. The plan is to double the participation this year.

“Our attraction and retention approaches must work together,” Guzzetta added. “So we’re also focused on our college alumni, reaching them through their university foundations and brand ambassadors we identify, and we’re mindful of supporting our mid-career talent, ensuring they’re connecting with career paths and becoming integrated in the community so they’re more inclined to stay and build their career here.”

Talent development

The Sioux Falls Development Foundation has taken a broad but targeted approach to talent development and plans to build on it in 2020. 

“We are meeting young people with programming that is designed to engage them in industries where we know there will be demand for workers and where quality, robust career paths exist,”  said Guzzetta.

“The Your Future STEM program is an excellent way to get kids exposed to careers and opportunities out there and tie that to what they’re doing in school,” said Mundt, who rolled up his sleeves and helped students through the hands-on activity during the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Your Future STEM program with POET on January 24, 2020.
   
The successful Your Future STEM program developed and coordinated by the Development Foundation has reached middle school students in 10 of the 16 school districts in and around Sioux Falls with hands-on programming that introduces them to area professionals while engaging them in industry-related projects.

“We want to be in all 16 school districts by the end of 2020,” Guzzetta said. “And we’re excited to build on our successful programs with Gage Brothers, HDR Engineering, Journey Group and POET by adding Sanford Research, the Sanford Promise program and other interested business partners.”

Mundt encourages more organizations to participate in this program.

"I was amazed how the kids took to it and took to their roles and responsibilities. This is early-stage workforce development – it’s not for next week – but five to 10 years from now, we’re still going to need them entering fields like this,” said Mundt. 

The Development Foundation also will launch summer Your Future STEM mini-camps for incoming seventh through ninth graders, further connecting them with hands-on learning related to career opportunities. 

And it will launch a Career Connections program for high school students this fall, beginning with a group of 60 students that will be connected to multiple work experiences, business mentoring and studies at Southeast Technical Institute and the USD Community College for Sioux Falls while connected to six strategic employers. 

“These are students who might have barriers to overcome in entering a career – they represent potential first-generation college students and come from economically challenged backgrounds,” Guzzetta said. “We expect over the course of the next Forward Sioux Falls program, we will have 900 students who will be part of that program, so it will quickly increase.”

Kolbeck shares the enthusiasm regarding the potential of the Career Connections program.

"I participated in SFDF's talent development programming initiatives involving internships and job shadows for our area's high schools in 2019, and I look forward to seeing SFDF's Career Connections program continue to provide these types of practical learning experiences with the efficiencies that our region's employers want and need to see."

Business partnerships

Businesses and individuals can stay connected to workforce programming and information through the Development Foundation’s WIN Engagement Platform, a digital home for the organization’s workforce development content and resources.

“This year, we will be focusing not just on telling our own story – although we will continue to make sure our stakeholders are informed about all that’s happening here – but we will also be telling the stories of the people at all career stages who have found professional and personal fulfillment in Sioux Falls,” Guzzetta said.

“That directly connects to our approach of lifting up the theme of career, community and cause, and we think it’s a powerful way to help prospective talent see themselves here with all the opportunities that await.”

Workforce development requires a team approach, and in 2019, more than 800 business leaders shared best practices and gave feedback through Sioux Falls Development Foundation workforce programs and events.

Professionals from a 500-mile radius attended the Foundation’s annual WIN in Workforce Summit in 2019. That’s expected to grow even more for this year’s event on Oct. 21, 2020.

“We are committed to even greater collaboration this year,” Guzzetta said. “Our role is to function as a clearinghouse. Whether it’s requests for job shadows or internships or apprenticeships, we want to be providing that connectivity for employers and talent.”

The Development Foundation’s Recruitment Council is an effective and accessible way for businesses to connect to these efforts. It’s already drawn more than 250 engaged members and is closely aligning with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

“We’re pulling in people not just from the Sioux Falls area but regionwide and from the surrounding states for our events, in particular the WIN Summit, so that’s been a very successful outcome,” Guzzetta said. “The key is working in tandem to collectively win the war on talent.”

Would your business like to connect with workforce development efforts? Contact Denise Guzzetta at 605-339-0103.