What is WORKNOW?

WORKNOW facilitates community-centered hiring on infrastructure projects to improve economic self-sufficiency for local residents and to provide project contractors with a pipeline of local workers in craft and professional service positions. Through an alliance of existing organizations that integrate training and community resources to support comprehensive construction career readiness, WORKNOW ensures that working families living in communities directly affected by enterprise economic development projects benefit from those project opportunities.

To achieve this objective, WORKNOW operational strategies include:

  • Find and prepare workforce for construction industry opportunities—including craft, office and professional service
  • Integrate and scale supportive services, particularly access to child care to support working families with effective and seamless navigation assistance
  • Resolve barriers that prevent people of color and women from finding and keeping good construction jobs
  • Provide technical assistance and best practice dissemination to drive policy and practice to foster inclusive economies and effective career-building pathways

WORKNOW emerged from a series of stakeholder roundtable sessions hosted by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The partnership addresses several issues impacting workforce service delivery, including:

  • High duplication of efforts
  • Limited shared measures of success
  • Siloed funding environments and limited alignment across work support and training organizations
  • Low-income working parents being stalled by service barriers
  • Local employers unsure how to find and build skilled workers
  • Substantial shortage of construction workers needed to deliver projects according to project schedules and budgets
What is this partnership about?

Colorado Resource Partners (CORE) is an alliance of organizations that integrates training and community resource partners for comprehensive construction workforce readiness and career success. CORE presents the employment platform, WORKNOW to place, retain and advance workers in this industry. We help people find and keep good construction jobs. This collaborative came together because of a shared commitment to ensure that families living in communities directly affected by construction projects can access the employment and skills development opportunities those projects provide.

What does this partnership do?

CORE partner organizations across metro Denver provide direct services related to career navigation, family resources, and technical or personal development skills training. These activities align to support four WOKRNOW operational strategies:

  • Find and prepare workforce for construction industry opportunities—including craft, office and professional service
  • Integrate and scale supportive services, particularly access to child care to support working families with effective and seamless navigation assistance
  • Resolve barriers that prevent people of color and women from finding and keeping good construction jobs
  • Provide technical assistance to drive policy and practice to foster inclusive economies and effective career-building pathways
Who owns WORKNOW?

No one single entity; this represents a collective impact effort. The founding and funding partners are Gary Community Investments, the Center for Workforce Initiatives at Community College of Denver, the Colorado Department of Transportation, and the City and County of Denver (Office of Economic Development/Denver Workforce Services).

WORKNOW is guided by an appointed advisory group to achieve the following:

  • Ensure transparency and accountability for WORKNOW from multiple constituency perspectives
  • Review investment recommendations related to barrier remediation for people of color and women in the trades and monitor for unintended consequences to program activities.
  • Ensure that affiliated projects include authentic community workforce development approaches that are efficient, effective, and meet their budgets.
How did WORKNOW come about?

WORKNOW emerged from a series of stakeholder round-table sessions hosted by Colorado Department of Transportation to support local hiring efforts. Training and resource partners, community residents, and local employers identified multiple issues impacting workforce service delivery, including:

  • Siloed and reduced funding environments, leading to duplication of efforts and limited shared success measures
  • Inconsistent alignment across work support and training organizations
    Lack of consistent access to information and training related to construction employment opportunities
  • Substantial shortage of construction workers needed to deliver projects according to project schedules and budgetsTo work on these problems in new ways, a collective partnership formed and secured seed funding in July 2017. Direct training and support services implemented initially to build a workforce pipeline for CDOT's Central 70 expansion project. An additional project partner, the National Western Center, was announced in February 2018. Since pilot activities launched in October, nearly 240 people have accessed training, employment, upgrades or resources like boots for a new job.
Who are the WORKNOW resource organizations providing services?

An alliance of existing organizations came together to work in a new way to ensure that families living in communities directly affected by construction projects benefit from them. These partners include—Community College of Denver’s Center for Workforce Initiatives, the Office of Economic Development’s Denver Workforce Services and its sub-contractors, Denver Housing Authority, Focus Points Family Resource Center, Mi Casa Resource Center, Denver Area Labor Federation, DenverWorks, mPowered, and WorkLife Partnership. In addition, training partners build foundational and technical skills and include community-based training programs, registered apprenticeships, community and technical colleges, and trade associations. CORE/WORKNOW is not a static partnership and welcomes training or resource partners that share the collaborative objectives and commitment to collective vision, impact and evaluation.

Does this partnership include new programs?

Not really. WORKNOW improves awareness and access to existing programs and services. What is new is coordinated access points for job seekers, current construction workers, and contractors, resources and tools to support and expand local service programs, and a trained corps of navigators working to address individual and family self-sufficiency in a holistic way. Our private, public, and non-profit resource partners all know that none of us can meet our daunting workforce and family resource needs alone.

There’s a lot of attention right now on neighborhood stabilization and residents being displaced over rising rent and homeownership costs. Are middle-skill careers and construction jobs the answer?

They’re part of the answer, which is about empowering all interested residents with income and opportunity growth. While unemployment is low in our region, the rates of unemployment are substantially higher in some neighborhoods. We know that construction industry jobs, particularly on public projects, offer high-wage, high-growth pathways, and we believe that raising family income is one component to sustaining families.

If this is a jobs program, why does WORKNOW include significant emphasis on supportive services?

The resource and training organizations that make up the Colorado Resource Partners currently graduate and employ successful workers in this industry. But we know it’s not enough to meet current contractor demands. The best way to expand this pipeline is to support extended training offerings and to ensure that more people can enter and succeed in these established pathways. By increasing access to resources that help people finish training, and sustain employment, we can grow more local workers while improving family self-sufficiency.

We want to help families and our partner organizations build more. Whether it’s providing a gas card to get to the first week of work, paying off a driver’s license fee to reinstate a driver’s license, or funding an apprentice’s book costs, we know that access to supportive services relieves stress and increases retention, whether it’s in school or on the job.

What services does WORKNOW provide employers?
  • Pre-screening and assessment services to ensure candidates applying for open positions are work ready and meet project position qualifications
  • Alignment with local training programs to support customized training that prepares future workforce to targeted project opportunities
  • Post-hiring supportive services to ensure employment retention success
  • Assistance complying with Federal and State Equal Employment Opportunity requirements and dedication to attainment of project hiring goals
  • Resources to support upgrade training for WORKNOW participants (both new hires and existing employees) to ensure long-term skills development
How does WORKNOW measure success?

WORKNOW and its training and resource partner organizations want to improve how we all help people find and keep good construction jobs. The partnership measures impact through data tracking on outreach activity, training completions, placement, and retention (both on a job and in the industry). At the individual and family level, metrics track income gains, skills development and increased access to resources. This data will be shared quarterly and annually through public venues to support program accountability and continuous improvement.