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Las Vegas Workers' 'Soft Skills' Called Foundation For Tech Jobs


The pandemic showed the Southern Nevada economy remains beholden to the travel and hospitality sectors.

Last spring the jobless rate briefly topped 30 percent when resorts and much of the economy were shut down. Unemployment still hovers near 10 percent as convention business remains slow. 

The Clark County commission heard recently that the “soft skills” so important in the resort industry — empathy, teamwork, communication — can provide the foundation for good-paying, tech-related jobs.

“Companies are hiring individuals that have these amazing soft skills,” said Startup Vegas co-founder Heather Brown, who pitched commissioners on the opportunity to retrain workers as “sales engineers.” 

Sales engineers help companies make the most use of their investment in software as a service, or SaaS, offered through Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Adobe, among many others. 

“It takes someone with good personal skills to be able to train their customers on how to effectively use that,” Brown said. “You don't have to understand how it was built. You don't have to understand the coding — you just kind of plug and play.”

Brown said the need for those types of jobs has grown as the process of delivering services through the Internet has become more sophisticated.

“They realized that their business model needed to also change; they can't just expect a customer to intuitively get it,” she said. “Even if they have the best marketing and targeting, they still need somebody to explain the software to them.”

Startup Vegas asked the commission for a share of federal COVID relief dollars to train Southern Nevadans for that kind of work. Brown told State of Nevada it takes 10 weeks and $11,700 to train a person for sales engineer jobs, which are in high demand.

“As of July 1, there were 13,938 open positions, looking to hire immediately in North America,” she said, adding that starting pay can reach $90,000.

Those retrained would be able to stay in the market and work remotely.

“This is a perfect work from home, job, you can literally live here work here but your job can be anywhere in the world,” Brown said, and it would “help workers actually put more money back into the economy here."

Heather Brown, co-founder, StartUp Vegas

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Zachary Green is the Coordinating Producer and a Reporter for KNPR's State of Nevada Program. He reports on Clark County, minority affairs, health, real estate, business, and gardening. You'll occasionally hear Zachary Green reporting and fill-in hosting on the State of Nevada program.