Highlights From Our Collection of Workforce Leader Interviews. Post #1

Jul 18, 2011
by: Sam McCoy

From the Front Lines of Worforce Leadership

As part of the Enhancing Workforce Leadership Project we have been talking to a diverse group of leaders throughout the United States from local and state workforce agencies, community colleges, business and non-profit sectors. We recently created a resource of 12 interviews conducted with leaders that are engaged in job creation, talent and workforce development from rural areas of the Great Lakes in Minnesota to the inner-city of Sacramento to learn more about how they are succeeding in their communities.

We are very excited to share the unique insights and perspectives about some of the key areas that are needing to be addressed by workforce leaders today. Here are a few of the highlights about the pressing issues and challenges facing workforce development leaders. Come take a look at the full length collection: On-the-Ground Insight from 12 Workforce Leaders.


Workforce Development is Community Development

“I never thought I would have to be this holistic. Everything is connected to everything else.  We must know all of the players - know about all of the resources within the community.  We act as the connectors, relationship builders and navigators within the system. We are the clearinghouse.” Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc. (LVWIB) in Pennsylvania

Workforce leaders are taking more holistic approaches on community issues to address so many of the tough challenges they are facing such as slow job growth, unemployment and matching training and skills with the right jobs.  None of which is easy in a constantly changing economy.  Many of the workforce leaders we spoke to describe the need for WIB’s and workforce systems to move beyond skill delivery and program funding requirements to look at the larger issues that underlie community challenges.  WIB’s need to develop broader visions, determination to seek change and the ability to listen to other leaders within the community

"If they build it, they will own it," noted Mike Knutson, from the Maroney Rural Learning Center. Mike argues that workforce leadership aimed at solving these complex problems has to incorporate community collaboration and empowerment.  Problem solving is about facilitating,  not directing or imposing, but co-creating solutions with diverse actors.