State Workforce Leaders Explore Opportunities for Strategic Leadership at NGA Summer Workforce Symposium in Fargo

State Workforce Leaders Explore Opportunities for Strategic Leadership at NGA Summer Workforce Symposium in Fargo

Last month, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) convened two affiliate networks for its biannual Workforce Symposium in Fargo, North Dakota– the National Association of State Workforce Board Chairs and the National Association of State Liaisons for Workforce Development Partnerships. Governors’ workforce policy advisors and Governor-appointed workforce development leaders from these two networks heard from experts and exchanged best practices for maximizing the strategic leadership capacity of the state workforce system. The networks had multiple discussions about using the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) state planning processes to capitalize on major federal investments such as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), CHIPS and Science Act (CHIPS), and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Both associations elected new leaders who will help guide programming and membership engagement over the next two years. Deniece Thomas, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Katie Ralston Howe, Workforce Division Director at the North Dakota Department of Commerce, were elected Chair and Vice Chair of the Liaisons Association, respectively. Angelo Farooq, Chair of the California Workforce Development Board, and Mark Gaspers, Chair of the Workforce Arizona Council, were elected Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the Chairs Association.

During the symposium, the NGA Center launched the Workforce Strategic Planning Collaborative. This new joint effort between the NGA Center and the U.S. Department of Labor will provide technical support to Governors as they maximize the impact of new federal investments for their state’s workforce, namely IIJA, CHIPS, and IRA. This partnership will allow the NGA Center to provide assistance to Governors in achieving their goals by leveraging the strategic planning opportunity presented by the WIOA 2024 state planning process. Both associations had a unique opportunity for closed-door discussion with officials from the U.S. Department of Labor to learn more about the Collaborative and provide initial input to inform the tools and assistance that the NGA Center will deliver.

With a recent uptick in the number of Governors revising the way they oversee their state’s workforce system, the Liaisons Association heard from representatives from Oklahoma and Illinois about goals, processes, and early successes in realigning their states’ workforce governance structures. Reinforced by national data on youth employment trends provided by Lightcast, representatives from North Carolina and North Dakota discussed training programs and policies aimed at youth in their states as they prepare to enter the workforce. The Chairs Association heard from peers in Washington and North Dakota on success stories of state workforce boards driving system alignment with Governors’ priorities through innovative initiatives, including the Washington Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board’s legislative priorities and the North Dakoka Regional Workforce Impact Program. Building partnerships to expand workforce training and employment opportunities for Tribal communities has been an additional priority for many members of the Chairs Association, so they explored a North Dakota case study on the Tribal College Apprenticeship Program, presented by partners in state government, postsecondary education, and the private sector.

Throughout the symposium, states discussed opportunities met, challenges addressed, and workforce and economic trends that are emerging, all of which will guide upcoming programming and technical assistance through the NGA Center’s Workforce Development Technical Assistance Program (WDTAP). The NGA 2024 Winter Workforce Symposium will be held in Washington, D.C. ,in early 2024, providing state workforce policymakers with another opportunity to discuss topics pertinent to their work as well as to interface with federal partners. For more information about the WDTAP program or the biannual workforce symposiums, please contact Jack Porter at [email protected].

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