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Category State & Regional Workforce Solutions

The Case for Regionalism

The successful implementation of sector strategies and other key transformational elements in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) occurs at the regional level. But, without a universally accepted definition of a functional economic region, some states have chosen to designate their local workforce areas as “regions;” a move that can overlook the tremendous value of true economic regions in their state. As states seek to designate economic regions, we encourage them to consider two key factors that are generally included in most definitions that can help their guide decisions: 1) The region represents a cohesive network of trade in goods, services and labor, and 2) Data is the common element in identifying such regions.

Maher’s extensive experience working with states and regions strongly indicates that regional approaches built around identifying and operating in economic regions lend themselves to more successful sector strategies. There are… Read more →

State Leadership and Support: Living the Dream

Harriet Tubman once said, “Every great dream begins with the dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” 

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides state leaders and the workforce system at each level the opportunity to dream big dreams and work with their partners to make their dreams a reality. As a result, the role that state leadership plays and the supports it offers during this transitional timeframe is critical.

The infrastructure to support that dream is the WIOA Unified or Combined State Plans.  However, in our work with several states, it has become clear that those plans are more compliance focused and not necessarily reflective of states’ true strategic vision and how to operationalize that vision.  Now is the time to… Read more →

Maher Wins Sector Strategy Engagement in Arkansas!

We are pleased to announce that we have been selected by the state of Arkansas to support their deployment of sector strategies statewide – adding another state to a growing list of clients working to transform their workforce development system.

Sector strategies are regional, industry-focused approaches to building skilled workforces and are among the most effective ways to aligning public and private resources to address the talent needs of business – while providing family-sustaining career paths for job-seekers. Sectors-based workforce development strategies are promoted actively by federal policy and are a key element in the Nation’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was passed by Congress in 2014.

“Sectors for us is not just another program,” said Beth Brinly, Vice-President, Workforce Innovation at Maher. “Rather, it's a culture-shift in the way we view the business of workforce development. By… Read more →

WIOA Regional Plans: The End of the Beginning

In our work with regional teams in a number of states over the last decade, we have learned a great deal about what enables regional partners’ success, what can hinder it, and how regional partners can create meaningful, sustained engagement and ensure real results.  We’ll be sharing our thoughts and observations with you in blog posts over the upcoming months, and invite you to weigh in with input on your own experiences with successes and pitfalls in regional planning!

Over the last year, partners in regions across the country have been working to draft and finalize their WIOA regional plans.  In some cases, regional partners have a history of working together and planning jointly across workforce area (and other) boundaries; in others, working together in multi-partner and multi-jurisdictional teams has been a very new enterprise.  In either case, regions have had… Read more →

Garden State Employment and Training Association Board Plans for the Future of Workforce Development

The Garden State Employment and Training Association (GSETA) invited me to facilitate their July Board Retreat, which included Executive Directors and Managers from Workforce Development Boards and One Stop offices from across New Jersey.  I was excited to accept this opportunity to discuss the future of workforce development in my home state. 

Through Board member’s evaluation of the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, all within the context of the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, we witnessed a very engaged group who, with few if any exceptions, began to demonstrate a willingness to re-imagine and explore the potential of the Association.  Key themes for the event included innovation, system building, employer engagement, partnership development, and the strengthening of a talent pipeline for New Jersey. 

GSETA members present stated that they were able to walk away from… Read more →

Sector Strategies Institute Sets New Vision for Florida’s Talent Supply Chain: CareerSource Florida

Florida’s workforce development system, and their partners, are on a course to accelerate the adoption of sectors-based approaches to talent management around the State, and our recent Sectors Strategy Institute was a solid start on their journey.

The two-day Institute, held in Orlando, brought together over 100 leaders from Florida’s twenty-four workforce development areas who attended with partners from education and economic development to learn more about sector strategies. The Institute began with a discussion of the vision Florida leaders embrace for a future workforce system and continued with several panel discussions. Leaders then worked through a series of learning activities and team-based planning exercises to help them better understand priorities and appropriate next steps.

“We have developed and deployed a model for doing these Institutes in states around the country,” said Carrie Yeats, Director of Maher’s State… Read more →

Apprenticeship Works: US DOL Announces $50 Million Investment in State Apprenticeship Strategies

More and more businesses, workforce development organizations, and educational institutions across the country are turning to apprenticeship as a proven model for work-based learning. This customized and flexible workforce solution trains workers to the exact skill needs of business – and provides wages during training so that workers can “earn while they learn.”

The U.S. Department of Labor (US DOL) is making a historic investment in apprenticeship. After announcing Accelerator Grants to 52 states and territories in early June, US DOL just recently announced a new $50 million ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion grant competition.

Maher & Maher has partnered with US DOL to launch a number of successful apprenticeship initiatives over the last decade in order to accelerate understanding and adoption of apprenticeship, such as:

A Quick-Start Toolkit providing a step-by-step guide for businesses to build apprenticeship programs   A comprehensive… Read more →

Are you BOLD enough to “Fail-Fast?” Customer Centered Design Holds a Key to WIOA Success

Three work sessions at the recent National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) Conference in Orlando invited participants to innovate their way to improved service delivery integration, and to “fail fast” in the pursuit of better outcomes for both job seeker and employer customers. We were really energized by the enthusiasm of people from across the country as we explored ETA’s Customer Centered Design (CCD) initiative.

Customer Centered Design (CCD) is a way of exploring service delivery excellence using “design thinking” as the engine for innovation, and the Employment and Training Administration has been championing its acceptance across the Nation’s Workforce Development System aggressively. ETA’s Customer Centered Design Challenge, which we have supported as TA providers and coaches for the initiative, has seen 200 teams since last summer from across the U.S. form to re-imagine… Read more →

Oklahoma Strategic Board Training: Statewide Conference Boosts WIOA Implementation Success

I recently had the honor of working with close to 100 local workforce development board members from across the state of Oklahoma, and was so impressed with their positive energy and intentions!. State officials worked in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) Dallas Regional Office to promote and sponsor the event. This highly collaborative event convened at Oklahoma State University brought together board members, including board chairs, business members and board staff and a robust representation of Local Elected Officials (LEOs),to explore the many important elements of the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and to train board members in their critical roles – among them to think and act more strategically in the years ahead.

We covered the essential elements of the new legislation, gave folks an overview of how the law would change the way they do business, and… Read more →

The Future of Rapid Response: Maher Presents a new Future Orientation at ETA Region 2 Summit

Last week’s “Responding Rapidly” Summit in Harrisburg, PA gave us the opportunity to think through the future of Rapid Response with a high-energy group of professionals throughout ETA’s Region 2 states – and it was a conversation that may need to happen across the Nation’s Workforce Development System.

Working with our V.P. of Workforce Innovation, Beth Brinly, and about 110 Rapid Responders from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, I was able – for the first time really – to think through the future of this critical program as it might function in a post-WIOA world.

Fortunately, in many areas, Rapid Response is not as overwhelmed as it once was with large scale dislocations. During the Great Recession and for years in its wake, Rapid Responders were very busy responding to events – meeting with businesses… Read more →

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