Kristen Dwyer is the NPWR (Nevada P-20 to Workforce Research Data System) Manager at the Governor's Office of Workforce Innovation. She has been with GOWINN since May 2021 as the Grants and Programs Manager overseeing all aspects of the over $20 million dollars of federal grants awarded to GOWINN, having come from the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) where she managed a STEM grant and was the Coordinator to the Vice President of Academic Affairs. Prior to working at CSN, Kristen served for eight years in various capacities for the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, including working as Outreach Program Manager, Assistant to the Executive Director, and Business Support Specialist.
Originally from New Hampshire, Kristen received her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications and Journalism from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts in Communications from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She has lived in Las Vegas since the summer of 2017.
What drove you to take the lead as GOWINN's data and grant manager
The Governor's Office of Workforce Innovation (GOWINN) helps drive a skilled, diverse, and aligned workforce in the state of Nevada by promoting cooperation and collaboration among all entities focused on workforce development. I came to GOWINN as my passion is to help people, which is why I have worked in higher education (previously at the College of Southern Nevada and in Texas before that) and the State government here in Nevada. When the opportunity arose to lead the Nevada P-20 to Workforce Research Data System (NPWR) for GOWINN, I was very excited as I can have an impact on addressing policy problems facing Nevada using NPWR as the evidence-based data-driven research tool.
What are GOWINN's priorities in order to diversify the workforce pipeline in Nevada?
GOWINN’s top objectives are to equip the Nevada workforce with the soft and technical skills needed for employment; Reduce the workforce shortage by increasing labor force participation; and, Diversify the economy by building a skilled and ready workforce aligned with regional in-demand sectors and occupations. GOWINN does this through convening community discussions and listening to concerns and needs, identifying best practices nationally and regionally that other communities and states have adopted that could help move Nevada forward, and then GOWINN turns ideas into action through identifying funding, building out innovative programs, and implementing them with partners. Workforce development is a team effort and we are proud to play a role in making Nevada a better place.
How are you using data systems to ensure representation across the state and what influence does your team think this will have on our state's workforce industries?
NPWR provides insight into the trends and forces that are shaping top policy issues in Nevada such as diversifying Nevada's workforce, increasing the talent pipeline, and improving educational outcomes for Nevada's students. This past December, we received funding from WIOA Governor’s Reserve to support research studying Nevada’s most challenging policy problems in the areas of workforce development, economic diversification, and education. We are excited to have awarded eight grants to research centers and individuals across the state who are utilizing NPWR data to answer much needed questions, with the results of their work to help drive the development of a statewide research agenda, which will be launched at the next NPWR Research Forums this coming December.
The inaugural NPWR Research Grant Awardees are:
Workforce and Economic Development:
- The Brookings Mountain West’s project, The Gender Cap in Nevada: A K-12, Higher Education, and Workforce Study will explore the gender gap in Nevada and propose public policy interventions to improve educational and workforce outcomes;
- The Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Center for Business and Economic (CBER) Research’s project An Analysis of Nevada’s Pre- and Post-Pandemic Labor Force Participation Rate will identify and evaluate factors contributing to Nevada having the 3rd largest decrease in labor force participation following the pandemic;
- The University of Nevada, Reno’s (UNR) Center for Economic Development’s Examination of the Relationship between Workforce Development and Housing, Education and Childcare Services, and Healthcare Services will explore how labor force barriers impact workforce and economic development and business creation, retention, and expansion abilities.
- The Lincy Institute’s project Nevada K-12 Performance and Implications for Economic Diversification will evaluate the differentiating factors between Nevada’s highest and lowest performing schools and districts in terms of on-time graduation rates, performance on standardized tests, and college-going rates;
- UNLV’s Center for Research, Evaluation, and Assessment’s project Piloting School Funding Equity: How the Enactment of Senate Bill 178 Impacted Student Outcomes After Graduation explores how Nevada's student funding pilot program impacted students post-secondary and vocational outcomes;
- Dr. Megan Rauch Griffard from UNLV’s Department of Educational Psychology and Higher Education’s project Dissecting the Educator Talent Pipeline and Educators’ ROI in Nevada will focus on whether CTE certificates in education concentrations lead to eventual employment in education, seek to understand how long NSHE education majors take to earn their desired degree by educational attainment level, and how the wages of educators compare to other workers with comparable education and experience in Nevada by educational attainment level.
- Anna Dreibelbis, a UNLV law and doctorate student, for her project Assessing Career Readiness Gaps in Nevada to understand what the gaps are in soft skill development in CTE programs across Nevada.
- Curtis L. Cobbins, a doctorate student, for his project Causes of Innovation Engineering Management Failure in Workforce Development Within the Nevada System of Higher Education to understand how strong the correlation is, if any, between employee analysis of skills gap alignment and the role of innovation engineering management.
What grants are available to Nevada residents and how can Nevada businesses and organizations be a part of them?
GOWINN is committed to helping the residents in Nevada on growing their skillsets. There is funding available across the State for short-term training opportunities on in-demand occupations through our Department of Education grant called Project SANDI. This is a partnership statewide with all the community colleges and additional outside training providers. A catalog of the available opportunities can be found here: https://sandi.nevada.edu/about-the-program/. The purpose of this grant is to get people skills in certificate programs that are around 10 weeks long to help develop a new career pathway in areas like healthcare, IT, advanced manufacturing, skilled trades, and recently just added teacher opportunities.
Project SANDI also has some funds available to support small businesses and start-ups and interested businesses are welcome to visit https://nvgrow.org/ for additional information. Another aspect of this initiative is the incorporation of additional tools to help support Nevadans in identifying their career pathway. You can visit Nevada Career Explorer, https://goed.nv.gov/project-sandi/, and try out virtual reality goggles at your local libraries to view courses and field trips to help identify a new career.
Another opportunity is for support for individuals interested in healthcare in our rural areas, through our H-1B grant from the Department of Labor. Interested individuals can contact Zachary Alexander, firstname.lastname@example.org, in our office for more details.
GOWINN also has funding available for the support of nontraditional apprenticeships in healthcare, IT and advanced manufacturing. Our team works with employers to develop registered apprenticeship opportunities in these areas and then supports the employers with the training funding for the apprentice. If an employer is interested in pursuing this great model to support our residents, please reach out to Cheryl Olson at email@example.com, and she can explain the process in more depth.
NPWR does not currently have any funding opportunities available for the general public, but please visit https://npwr.nv.gov/ to learn more.