It’s hard to decide which feature of Twin Falls, Idaho, and the surrounding area has the most magnetism. The default choice is often the diverse agricultural landscape or the breathtaking Snake River Canyon, but one can argue that the true element of magic in the Magic Valley is its workforce. Paving a prosperous path for those who call it home, Southern Idaho’s Magic Valley is a hub for opportunity, attracting and educating talented professionals who are eager to put their skills to work.
Education and accessibility go hand in hand
Faced with a seemingly endless number of specialized jobs to fill in the Magic Valley, the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) created The Workforce Development and Training Program with two goals in mind: First, create an affordable, accessible program that enables individuals within the community to get the skills they need for the careers they want. Second, work directly with employers to prepare a talent pipeline for roles within their organizations.
“The individuals we serve have a lot of demand on their time and money, so the learning experience needs to ensure that neither are a barrier for them to invest in their future,” said CSI’s Director for Workforce Development Janet Pretti. “Employers, especially the mid-sized and smaller companies who call this region home, often have limited internal bandwidth and resources to develop and deliver the training they want their employees to receive in order to retain and grow them. We can help with that.”
The Workforce Development and Training Program is tailored toward individuals who crave education and hands-on learning experiences but feel the traditional educational route might not be the choice that best suits their needs. Unlike a typical four-year college, there is no application process, and enrollment is as simple as browsing the course catalog and signing up for classes that interest you. Then, the only commitment is investing in yourself.
“Only 50% of people in Idaho go on to college,” Janet said. “We want all 100% to have options to access the jobs and careers they need and want. All of our courses are real-world ready and provide career focused skills that help individuals in our community learn and grow.”
The program offers hundreds of a la carte online and in-person courses within career fields ranging from electricians to phlebotomy, CNAs to manufacturing, plumbing to food processing and more. General business management training like nonverbal communication, Microsoft Excel and leading through change are also available.
“The fabric of Idaho communities was constructed and continues to be built from the individuals who hold careers in these fields, and there is no doubt that every community needs more of them,” said Janet. “The goal is to serve the mass majority of the essential needs.”
Amidst the nearly 8,000 participants served each year, former student Jacob Breault completed a four-year plumbing apprenticeship course through the Workforce Development and Training Program and is now a journeyman plumber for Evan’s Plumbing Incorporated in Twin Falls. Before enrolling in the program at CSI, Jacob felt he wasn’t receiving the hands-on experience and education needed to advance in his plumbing career. The Workforce Development and Training Program changed that for him.
“For every four journeymen plumbers retiring, there’s only one coming into the field,” said Jacob. “If CSI wasn’t offering this apprenticeship, we wouldn’t have an affordable, convenient place to take the classes we need to advance and fill those positions.”
Employee training, built to order
Just as students enroll in the Workforce Development and Training Program to advance their careers, employers enlist the help of the program to advance their staff and work environment. Through the Workforce Development and Training department, CSI gives businesses the opportunity to connect with a program manager to create customized classes or coursework plans for their staff to enhance their on-the-job skills.
“The company’s owner can sit down with one of our industry program managers and map out a unique plan to solve recruitment or employee skill challenges in their field,” Janet said. “Many companies are overwhelmed in the wake of the pandemic, and this saves them and keeps them from putting strain on their existing resources.”
Local companies such as Homestyle Direct and Riverence have utilized this one-of-a-kind program to upskill their current employees and assist in diversifying their qualifications so they can provide even more value to their companies and communities.
Community: we’re in this together
At its core, the Workforce Development and Training Program is here to serve the existing and future workforce of the Magic Valley. Additionally, it’s also here to help give back to the community by maximizing opportunity during a time of exponential economic growth. It is no secret that our communities are expanding, and with expansion comes more demand for skilled workers.
“Providing accessible and affordable training options is nonnegotiable if we want to continue to exist, grow and thrive as a community,” Janet said. “Our program encourages people to not sit on the sidelines, but rather join us for the long haul. We are committed to investing in our people, our employers and our community.”
Learn more about the College of Southern Idaho Workforce Development and Training Program and enroll in courses at https://workforce.csi.edu.