Workforce development encompasses a mindset and a set of activities, resources, and organizations supporting individuals and communities seeking to enhance career and educational opportunities for a sustainable future. Libraries are an integral component of this workforce development ecosystem, as centers of lifelong learning. From the young person just starting out, to a worker retraining for a new career, to an employer seeking to recruit new employees, the library is a collection of resources and interactions supporting career and education growth for the individuals in their community.

Libraries can engage in workforce development all along a continuum of investment:

  • Displaying printed handouts from government support agencies: e.g., Labor, Commerce, Career & Technical Education, Department of Education, Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Hosting a résumé writing or job interview workshop
  • Reserving a library room for recruitment and training from an employer
  • Utilizing your virtual reality equipment for job training in health care or auto mechanics
  • Customize maker space equipment and activities in support of job skill acquisition
  • Understand community workforce needs by attending local chamber, economic development, and related community meetings
  • Hosting a job seeker fair at library in partnership with local economic development leaders and others
  • Facilitating a weeks-long boot camp for entrepreneurs and company start-ups
  • Coordinating job seeking counseling appointments between a Department of Labor staff member and a job seeker
  • Cross-train library staff to support job seekers and career advancers, with clear avenues of referrals to organizations and informational resources
  • Intentionally co-locating by sharing working space with a partner, such as Department of Labor

The above is a non-exhaustive list of possible interventions supported by libraries to the benefit of their communities. Examples of actual activities in Idaho libraries:

  • The training of residents on the expert use of 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machines. A skill to include on the résumé.
  • Soft skills building training workshops
  • Dedicated phone and video connection to Department of Labor
  • Dedicated computer work station for job seekers with customized resources pre-installed
  • Sponsoring coding classes that meet in the library
  • A commitment to training interns, apprentices, and new-to-the-workforce staff members of professionalism in the work place
  • Facilitating in-library courses on foundational Microsoft Office tool capacity building, towards a certification
  • Co-locating Department of Labor staff members in the library building space

Library-focused and general workforce development resources located in the Workforce Development in Libraries LibGuide. Idaho-specific workforce development resources follow below on this page.

Idaho Statewide Resources

Vocational Rehabilitation: assist people with disabilities prepare for, secure, retain or regain employment

School District Programs: check your local school district website

Live Better Idaho: services to help you live better, the work and education section

Next Steps Idaho: education and career planning tools

Idaho Gem State Prospector: interactive infographics and mapping of community, business, and demographic data

Youth Work Experience: out of school youth ages 16-24 who are low income and have a barrier to finding/securing employment. Funding through Idaho Department of Labor.

Experience Works: offers employment and training services to low-income older workers

Microsoft Imagine Academy: online courses in Microsoft products available free through local public libraries; program is administered by the Idaho State Department of Education. Libraries wishing to pursue offering this service, contact Rick Kennedy at the State Department of Education.

Idaho Workforce Development Council Outreach Project grant application to support a library workforce development program

Idaho Women’s Business Center

Randy Kemp

Partnerships Program Supervisor
Email / 208.639.4149
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