Workforce Development Comes in (At Least) 31 Flavors

Feb 25, 2011

Ice Cream Cone

What's Workforce Development?

As we engaged people on the subject of leadership in workforce development, we first had to establish a shared understanding of workforce deveopment itself. Workforce leaders generally expressed high regard for their field, in particular its potential (admittedly not always realized) to advance increasingly sophisticated strategy and deliver high-value information, analysis, and services.

It's About Community Priorities.

When we asked workforce development leaders about their priorities and goals, they identified issues ranging from broadband access (a barrier to learning and working in many parts of the country) to entrepreneurship (in communities with little job growth, workforce leaders are exploring ways to help people make their own jobs) to the "youth-cession" (the ill-effect of the economic downturn on young people just beginning their careers). Jobs, skills, and wages anchor their work, but the breadth, depth, and focus are varied, the partnerships unique, and the context diverse and ever-changing.

We Need to Be More Effective Learners Ourselves to Help the System Grow and Change.

Senior workforce leaders indicated that this was a significant change from a decade ago when the sytem largely "stuck to its knitting" - running programs and providing services in accordance with statute. The work is more complex today, but it's what's needed. Leaders also cited the need to do a better job sharing information about what interventions work, why, and how, across different communities with shared priorities.


"Expectations are greater today as the public's understanding of education and economic issues has increased. It's a positive change. Our agendas are bigger, even if not always realistic." Paul, WIB Director