Workforce training helped create more jobs for the community and solve hiring challenges for local timber companies.
No two days are the same for Sytease Geib, Regional Business and Workforce Development Contractor for Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council(PacMtn WDC) which serves five counties, including Grays Harbor. She sees her team’s role as a connector and convener to grow economic development and job creation in the communities she serves through the public workforce system known as WorkSource.

“We are here to provide resources to businesses and workforce solutions that include recruitment, connectivity to training, skills analysis and retention strategies,” Geib said. “We’re like a mini-HR team for businesses of all sizes.”

Organizations and resources like Geib’s are the kind that can be available to organizations engaged with the Grays Harbor Gateway Center when it opens, creating a one-stop shop for businesses who need support for a variety of reasons.

One recent project Geib and the PacMtn Workforce partners completed helped to identify a training gap throughout the region with employers in the Forest and Wood Products Industry.

As a part of PacMtn’s Industry Sector Strategy Initiative, several regional businesses in the Forest and Wood industry came together to discuss shared challenges. It soon became clear that finding qualified log truck drivers was a significant issue. In fact, there were more than 50 open log truck driving positions.

PacMtn brought leaders together from local community colleges, including Grays Harbor College, to help address this issue. While there were plenty of CDL training opportunities, there weren’t any licensing opportunities specific to log truck driving which calls for specialized skills in driving on forest roads and loading/unloading this type of cargo. Businesses and colleges collaborated to create a log truck driving training program at Grays Harbor College to augment their existing CDL programs by creating curriculum, opening up use to the forest roads, and creating on-site training opportunities.

As a result, this past spring a portion of those open jobs were filled – many with former forest and timber employees who had lost their jobs in other sectors of the industry.

“We are always happy when we can work together to identify some of the reasons why there are employment gaps in the region and carve out solutions that have a lasting impact,” Geib added. “This partnership and collaboration between business, education and the workforce system not only helped fill these immediate jobs but created a program that doesn’t exist anywhere else allowing the college to attract and train more workers in the future.”

Geib and her team are focused on a number of critical industries in the region. In addition to the Forest/Wood Products Industry, there is also special attention focused on Chemical and Plastics Manufacturing, Food Processing, Healthcare, IT, and Hospitality/Tourism. Businesses of all sizes are encouraged to contact the business service team at WorkSource for assistance as they manage any number of employment challenges at all stages of their business.