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Community of Practice SANDI Training Center: 1. Introduction to the Big Idea

What is Project SANDI?

In late September 2020, Nevada was awarded a $13.8 million Reimagine Workforce Preparation (RWP) grant out of the CARES Act's Education Stabilization Fund. Nevada was one of only eight states which received this three-year grant for its Project SANDI ("Supporting and Advancing Nevada's Dislocated Individuals"). 

The program aims to build a modern workforce system that maps skills to competencies and credentials. Expand remote access to short-term training for in-demand sectors and educational opportunities by utilizing digital platforms.

Through this project, Nevada will:

  1. Help displaced workers return to gainful employment and transition underemployed workers to new fields by building and piloting a new system ("Skills Decoder") that can translate work experience and skills into competencies, which are then converted into badges and credentials, and later, flexibly bundled into certifications and degree programs. This approach responds to developments accelerated by COVID-19 on decentralized learning (e.g., non-classroom, hybrid classes, on-site training, open-entry/open-exit models) in conjunction with a geographically dispersed workforce (e.g., remote workers) and geographically dispersed learning.
  2. Help new workers enter jobs within in-demand sectors and transition, underemployed workers to new fields by implementing and expanding new accelerated degree programs, expanding remote access to in-demand occupations through distance education and the innovative use of digital platforms (virtual reality), and directing job seekers to an enhanced Nevada Career Explorer that integrates career navigation with case management and online training links.
  3. Assist small business owners in gaining the skills needed to create new businesses or grow current businesses and become more resilient by creating a credit-based, online, self-paced entrepreneurship Nevada, enhancing the online presence of NV Grow, a small business development center located at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN), offering incentives to business startups, and launching a student venture accelerator cohort model.



Let us Reimagine Workforce Preparation

To modernize the current workforce system SANDI offers a coordinated digital platform that allows dislocated, underemployed, and new job seekers easy access to accelerated training and education for in-demand, living-wage occupations and entrepreneurial pursuits. Enhanced features include precision career navigation elements that 'decode' skills and award college credits or competency badges for prior experience. Virtual reality and 3D interactive training enhancements are focused on short-term industry credentials through distance learning to reskill and upskill folks for in-demand jobs within Nevada's resilient STEM industries.

The Nevada State Library already has a service platform that leverages industry-leading solutions to manage information needs in a modern, mobile-friendly online environment. This grant will enhance the unified resource solutions that are already in place to simplify further and expand the information discovery experience of the job seeker, facilitate streamlined career exploration and training access, and increase cooperation between educators, librarians, career navigators, and individuals seeking to engage more fully in the workforce.




What makes Project SANDI so different?

What makes this project so unique is that with the help of Libraries, community practice members, Nevada Career Explorer, and new technology. Project SANDI will provide patrons with the support, tools, and resources to explore in-demand occupations currently in Nevada. Using 360-degree videos, STEM, data analysis modules, and virtual reality experience, job seekers will understand what an in-demand STEM occupation might look like. The goal is to provide patrons with a continuum of career-related experiences through exposure, exploration, and experience.



Project SANDI Starts with a Library Card

Libraries can reach deeply into disadvantaged communities in the highest need of workforce development and retraining now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Nevada State Library connects to 87 public libraries across the state, many operating in Nevada’s most economically challenged communities. The community of practice will drive individuals to strategic recruiting events for career entry. These events will use VR technology in libraries, One-Stops, Community Colleges, and NGO locations to spark curiosity and interest in Nevada's In-demand sectors. 

The recruiting efforts will direct all SANDI-interested patrons in getting a library card to enroll and create their Nevada Career Explorer profile. This is required for everyone who wants to participate in Project SANDI. If a patron does not have a library card they can apply online and have one in minutes!


Find a library using the Nevada Library Directory

Why the Libraries? 

The Nevada State Library system already has a service platform that leverages industry-leading solutions to manage information needs in a modern, mobile-friendly online environment. This grant leverages the wide geographical and demographic reach of Nevada’s public library system, as well as the Nevada State Library’s federal mandate to participate in workforce development. Starting with libraries is not a single isolated effort, but it's an integral part of SANDI's workforce development strategy. Libraries will be the starting point for job seekers to start their career exposure, exploration, and training access. 

Let's highlight some of Nevada's milestones achieved in the past six years:

  • The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, in its 2020 annual report and road map to economic and workforce recovery, formally recognizes libraries as drivers and assets to “innovation-based economic development.”
  • August of 2020 ALA Holding Space  (American Library Association) highlights how Nevada libraries are using virtual reality technology to train the workforce of tomorrow.
  • September 2019 Rutgers study about public libraries as a community connection for career services from the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development  showcased the Nevada Career Explorer 
  • In 2017 the Nevada State Library, using Library Services Technology Act funds, deployed the Nevada Career Explorer through all NV libraries - the Nevada Career Explorer is aligned with Work Keys and Work for ready communities.