Workshop in Northern Idaho Helps Businesses with Succession Planning

With the nation’s unemployment rate hovering just above 5 percent, employers are finding it difficult to recruit and keep talented workers. Baby boomers will continue retiring over the next 25 years, leaving both a shortage of workers and a deficit of valuable traditional skill sets. Employers are looking for ways to attract and keep the transitioning generation of workers.

Earlier this summer, the Idaho Department of Labor Kootenai County office held a workshop for area employers about building succession plans as one means of keeping those talented workers.

Succession planning involves identifying and developing current employees with the potential to fill key leadership roles in the business.

Idaho Labor’s interactive workshop, Planning for the Changing Workforce, allowed employers to engage, discuss and plan for the future. Attendees left with the initial planning steps completed along with tools to continue developing their plans to retain, train and move current employees into progressively more responsible roles.

Together with Gene Hamacher of the University of Idaho’s TechHelp and Regional Director Bill Jhung of the Idaho Small Business Development Center, Labor’s Kootenai County office brought a broad spectrum of businesses together to learn and collaborate.

Among those attending were Tom Chasse of Schweitzer Mountain Resort and members of his human resources department, who were looking for ways to groom young leaders for future positions. They were interested in learning about apprenticeships and will meet with Ricia Lasso, one of the Department of Labor’s regional business specialists. to explore options.

Ken Huitt of Idaho Trust Bank and Robert Green of Grupp Law Firm were interested in finding ways to better counsel their clients on business planning. Bay Shore Systems of Rathdrum, manufacturers of drilling equipment, is growing, and like most of the attendees, wants to capitalize on the talent they already have and learn how to attract and keep new talent.

Idaho is not alone in making plans for its future workforce. Days after the Kootenai County workshop, Barbara Necarsulmer, associate state director of the University of Delaware’s Small Business Development Center, was developing a family business succession plan and looking for successful examples. That’s when Necarsulmer found a link which led her to contact Katie Sewell, state director of Idaho Small Business Development Center at Boise State University. That email led Necarsulmer to the coordinators of the northern Idaho event.

— Stacey Hanlon, workforce consultant,