Washington State’s Task Force on the Future of Work: Understanding the Workforce Challenges of Tomorrow | Maher & Maher
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Washington State’s Task Force on the Future of Work: Understanding the Workforce Challenges of Tomorrow

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In this 45-minute episode, host Rick Maher is joined by Eleni Papadakis, Executive Director of Washington State’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, as they discuss Washington’s new Future of Work Task Force. Eleni reveals why they decided to create the task force, the progress they have made so far, and lessons learned. Discover what the workforce system needs to be doing today to prepare for Future of Work trends.

Episode Guest List:

photo of Eleni PapadakisSince 2007, Eleni Papadakis has served as the Executive Director of the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board in Washington State. Previously, she was Vice President for Planning and Advancement with the Commonwealth Corporation in Boston, where she also served as Vice President and Director of the Center for Workforce Innovation and Director for Program Services.

Ms. Papadakis has served on the boards of a number of local, state, and national organizations dealing with educational access and workforce development. She began her career as a therapist, career counselor, and adult basic education instructor. Ms. Papadakis earned her BA in Psychology from Clark University in 1980, and her MA in Counseling Psychology from Assumption College in 1982.

Connect with Ms. Papadakis on Linkedin.

Full Transcript of this episode:

Narrator:                            Welcome to Talent Talks. Each month, human resources veteran Rick Maher welcomes America's thought leaders to discuss ways to reinvent America's talent development and education systems. Tune in and discover how we can drive global competitiveness for future generations. Talent Talks is presented by Maher & Maher and IMPAQ International, who together are delivering research and evidence-based solutions to workforce challenges. And now your host, Rick Maher.

Rick Maher:                       Thanks for joining us today on Talent Talks as we explore the world of workforce development with our nation's most prominent thought leaders on workforce and educational issues. Today we'll start what I expect will be a series of podcast sessions exploring the subject of the future of work, a topic that is gaining much attention and starting to stir quite a discussion about how AI, robotics, the internet of things, and I guess technology in general might reshape work in the future. Some of the opinions, forecasting major workforce disruption can be downright scary, and I just think it's more than about time that we in the nation's workforce and educational systems got in the game. I'm pleased to report at least one state is already in the game in a big way, and I'm just so thrilled that Eleni Papadakis from Washington State has agreed to help bring our listeners up to speed. Eleni is executive director of Washington State's Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, and in that role she supports the State's new task force on the future of work. The first such task force to be set up that I know of in the United States. She's a veteran of the workforce system and has agreed to help us learn from her experiences in staffing this new initiative. Eleni, welcome to Talent Talks.

Eleni Papadakis:                Oh, thank you, Rick. I'm so pleased to be joining you.

Rick Maher:                       I'm so thrilled to have you. I think the work you're doing is just so critically important. As you know, we've talked about this. The future of work, depending on who you listen to, could be really the challenge of our times and yet when I begin to study it and read about it, frankly, I found very little focus on the subject within our system. You in Washington state are the pioneers. Really literally the first state to form a task force to study the subject. So Eleni, what's happening out there? Why are you guys focusing on the future of work, and why now?

Eleni Papadakis:                Yeah, thanks Rick. Great questions. I think we're in the same place that everybody has been in terms of all the scary projections coming out. We started getting really panicked about five or six years ago, with some of the reports projections that were coming out then, talking about how many more jobs are being transitioned to the contingent workforce. So fewer and fewer people having secure employment. Then that watershed Oxford University report that projected 47% of the U.S. labor market, U.S. jobs, would be automated either partially or fully away. But then we also had some optimistic things going on in the state because we had this booming economy and the national press said, we're three years running the top GDP producer in the country, outpacing New York and California that are usually fighting for first and second place spots.

Eleni Papadakis:                Then, we look at the State and we start breaking it down and saying, hey, that's great. We've got all this economic opportunity driven by innovation and technology, but it's all accruing to one county and we have 39 counties. So we said, what does this mean and is it really just about workers, or is it also about businesses? Are there businesses that are either being left behind now or likely to be left behind? You know, as technology moves, and that motivated us even further. I will say I have the benefit of having a governor who cares deeply about these issues. And a set of legislative leaders who were coming to this realization themselves through the work that they were doing on their own committees, economic development, higher education, and labor and workforce. And one senate leader in particular, Marilyn Chase, who chaired the economic development committee, said we can't just keep coming up with band-aids and then putting our head in the sand about the rest of what's going on. We can't rest on our laurels just because we've got this great economic boom.

Eleni Papadakis:                We need to learn about what's going on. We need to explore, we need to talk to a lot more people before we make any more policy decisions that will impact our systems that serve both businesses and workers. I was so fortunate that she asked me to be part of a curriculum committee. She and her committee members decided they wanted to establish their committee as a learning community. They use their committee time to learn, to bring in national and international experts. They asked us to find any promising practices going on in the state, bringing that to them. And they then decided that we needed as a state to keep exploring and learning, and that policy proposals that come to the legislature should come through a lens from both the business and worker perspective, but also based on deep exploration into what's going on now and what's likely to go on in the near term.

Rick Maher:                       This is kind of a good news, bad news thing, right? The good news is you've got really aspirational leaders out there that are standing up and saying, “we've got to pay attention to this.” Bad news is you've got to figure it all out in 18 months. Right, Eleni? First of all, I think that's a fantastic story and explains how you got here. I'm particularly moved by the fact that all of the prosperity is not shared throughout the state of Washington. I know you'll touch on that again later, but it's got to be a huge octopus to wrap your arms around, like you said. I mean, so many different constituencies. So much information that you need to first collect and then distill and turn into an action plan. So just give us an update. I mean how are you doing, what's your progress been so far, and, and frankly, any lessons learned that you think that our listeners would benefit from hearing?

Eleni Papadakis:                Sure. I think where we are, we probably have the best compendium of materials on the future of work that exists today. Because we've gotten stuff from all over the world, and every sector imaginable. I think some of the lessons learned through this is that all these materials give you a lot of projections, sometimes different projections, sometimes like diametrically opposed.

Rick Maher:                       Yeah, yeah, I've seen that.

Eleni Papadakis:                But very few are really thinking about policy, about the public sector in government and the role that government might play, except perhaps in the issue area of portable benefits. You do see stuff there that government can play a role there and around ethical aspects of technology. Should government play a role there? It's much more of a question than anything else. So, we said, all right we get a lot of good, solid information. We try to go into the data that led to the projections that these pundits make and see if we can get some more solid grounding. But in terms of thinking about policy, we had to do it ourselves and think about it in the state context. I think initially the task force members were thinking more globally about policy, but when we got right down to it, where were they going to have influences at the state level?

Eleni Papadakis:                Is there anything at the state level that we can do? Where they've gotten to is they've identified the core issue areas that they believe that policy could potentially make a difference in. There are 8 to 10 of them depending on how you cut it at any given time. They have not identified specific policies that they want to advance to the legislature. That's what they're kind of working on now, is what might actually have some traction in the legislative process that can really happen. We've also learned through this, and they're using this learning to help define what may become those very specific policy areas. There's actually a lot more room for optimism than we had initially thought because we're learning that employers are not rushing to figure out how to automate all of their workforce away or how to move their workers into the contingent workforce. For the most part, what we're learning is that most employers really value the talent that they have on hand and they want to figure out how to use them differently and use technology to augment and enhance the work, the productivity of the workers.

Rick Maher:                       That's a big deal. That's a big deal.

Eleni Papadakis:                This is huge. I think we wanted to think that, but we didn't have affirmation. But talking to the business community, we've learned that that's really the majority. And, especially of our solely owned or family-owned businesses, our small and mid-sized businesses, which is, you know, 85% to 90% of our business makeup in the state and where most of our people are employed. So, this was a really good sign, but we said, how do we make sure that we're creating the right conditions for employers to make technology decisions that support their workforce? Because there are so many influencing factors on a business. What they've said to us is, sometimes we're compelled by our customers, a manufacturer that supports an OEM [original equipment manufacturer].

Eleni Papadakis:                The OEM is demanding that they lower their costs and they've done everything else possible. So now they have to figure out how to automate away some of those costs. That means automating away workers. Our job now in the task force is to think about those decision points and say, what might we be able to offer that would help an employer make a decision towards sustaining their workforce rather than shedding their workforce. Things like the ability to upskill their workforce in a real-time way as they're bringing in new technology. Since the bulk of our training funding in workforce comes through the federal system, and the federal system has not really supported incumbent worker training. We've got to figure out, how can we find the right funding streams? What other kinds of supports can we offer to employers so that they make those kinds of decisions?

Rick Maher:                       One of the things—and you mentioned it, Eleni—one of the things that I find in doing my research on the topic is there is this wide spectrum of, of opinion. I mean, there is absolutely no lack of punditry on the subject of future of work. Right? And so as I look at it, you can find opinions out there. You know, I think McKinsey had one published a while back, hundreds of millions of jobs lost globally. Moreover, people left literally unemployable, right? Then that's kind of the workforce Armageddon scenario, right? And then there's another one on the other end of the spectrum that basically says, you know what, stop all the hustle and bustle. There's nothing to worry about here. It's another industrial revolution.

Rick Maher:                       We've done that before. There'll be some jobs lost, there'll be other jobs gained, relax, everything's going to be fine. It's kind of the denier opinion, I guess. And then I call scenario three something in between, which is to say, yes, there'll be disruption, but there will also be new opportunities created. And, yes, 15% of the workforce might need to be retrained. And that something in between scenario sounds a little bit more like what you might be starting to conceive. I don't want to put words in your mouth. But you know, when I think about even that one, I mean 15% of the workforce being retrained is a big number. So I mean, that's a disruption, right? Where do you guys sit on that spectrum and have I kind of categorized it correctly in your mind? I mean, is that what you're finding when you go out there and look at what others are saying?

Eleni Papadakis:                Yeah, yeah. And I think that that's right. Those are the three buckets. Um, you know I'll say I personally am far more optimistic now than I was when we started these explorations.

Rick Maher:                       Yeah. I'm finding that in my talks with you and I have to tell you it's quite heartening to me to hear somebody who's spent as much time as you to feel that way. Go on, tell us why. Tell us why.

Eleni Papadakis:                Happy to. You know, the, the thing is I'm optimistic, but we've got to put the right structures in place to fuel where the opportunity is. And I think when you and I talked, I mentioned that we're finding this whole new area of work that's really interdisciplinary, right? It's not the same sort of occupational tracks or career paths that we're used to and that our systems are set up for. And it's because of the advent and the now low cost of bringing artificial intelligence and machine learning into the business structure. And it's what we're calling embedded systems that folks do a process map of whatever it is that's going on in the business to make the business work. What kinds of data fuels the decision making at any point in that process?

Eleni Papadakis:                And then bringing AI and teaching machines how to take that data in and to make decisions rapidly so that production doesn't stop. And this is going on in the building trades and maritime trades and health care. You know, obviously in manufacturing and biotechnology, every industry group that I talk to, I learn about these embedded systems and how they can't find people who know how to do anything with them. And initially they would talk to us about the engineers and computer scientists and the very high-level designers of the systems, but now what they're talking about are the people who install the systems, repair the systems, maintain the system, right? And these are going to be the growth jobs that I see coming on board. But we don't have anybody that is preparing people to do that work because it's all so new.

Eleni Papadakis:                So, what we're thinking about is, how do we create the environment that allows the right flexibility to train and prepare for whatever jobs come online in the future. Thinking about, okay, let's add a new computer science track at this level. Or even something on AI. What are the foundational skills and competencies and even experiences that someone might need to set them up for a long-term career? Working with these systems in any company, in any business with any employer or helping to design them or fix them or repair them. And where we come to is there are jobs here. We've been worried about manufacturing and building trades going away. And these were the pathways to economic security for people who didn't want to do the college route.

Eleni Papadakis:                Right? You know, for whatever reason, that wasn't their bag. Uh, but they could make a good living and live well and serve their communities. It was all great, but those were disappearing. Well, we think that these kinds of jobs, this kind of occupational pathway is the new answer for those types of folks. We do have, this happens to be the chair of my board that's working in the building area, built systems and facilities management. He's developing an apprenticeship program with high school students to learn about controls technology and working on embedded systems within facilities. We're talking to folks in manufacturing where we already have a good concentration of apprenticeship programs operating that maybe we develop an apprenticeship route for these embedded systems. And we're talking to the maritime trade industry about the same thing. So I think that there's opportunity, but again, we have got to be responsive and our systems, you know, they're wonderful in so many ways, but we have so many restrictions around them. And, for our education system, both secondary and post-secondary, we have faculty that are experts in their fields to date. But, it's starting to look like they're teaching history lessons.

Eleni Papadakis:                Because they don't have an opportunity to get out there and talk to employers the way I do. To learn about what's going on. What should I be learning in order to help my students prepare for this career in the future? What does that look like? So another area that we're interested in trying to figure out is, can we do some wide-scale statewide professional development of the faculty who are working with our young people, with our returning adult students or with incumbent workers? Again, we don't have the answers yet. That, we believe, is a big deal area we've got to tackle.

Narrator:                            You're listening to Talent Talks, presented by Maher & Maher and IMPAQ International, who together provide research and evidence-based solutions integral to planning, developing, and managing America's workforce development system. For more information on what is being done to position America's workers, employers, and communities for future prosperity, sign up for our newsletter at mahernet.com/talenttalks. That's M-A-H-E-R-N-E-T.com/talenttalks.

Rick Maher:                       This whole thing of embedded systems, it's only starting to break through in my consciousness. Now what that means is, and you gave me an example, for instance, I mean in a manufacturing setting with automated machines or in some physical setting, construction, I think people can readily imagine that. But I got from you, this is going to be across literally all jobs. And I love the example you shared with me about the home health aide, who instead of just sitting there with mom now and watching the news and making sure that she's comfortable, is actually connected to some automated systems that might be monitoring her movements, her heart rate. And they may have to learn how the systems work, how they get reset, may have to know that if a system gives a certain signal, they need to react in a different way.

Rick Maher:                       So embedded systems can be really high tech and really high price, but they're embedded systems that will infuse literally almost all forms of work, right? So it just makes sense that we have to start to educate our faculty about that context so they can be mindful of it. But probably educate our business reps, our case workers and our job seekers about the fact that there's going to have to be a readiness to continue to learn in order to stay employed on that first or second-rung job we create for them today. Does that make sense at all?

Eleni Papadakis:                Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We've often talked in our workforce development world about making individuals aware of their learning styles, how they learn best because we try to prepare them for lifelong learning. But it's now just a necessity.

Rick Maher:                       And again, that's why this conversation today from my perspective, Eleni, is so important for our audience. Because, you know, as I told you when we first met, we're not going to solve this. We're not even going to scratch the surface in a short podcast. But we can start a discussion, and I think it's critical because whether you believe this is going to displace hundreds of millions of people and leave them literally unable to be employable or you believe, as I think both of us do, more likely is that there are going to be opportunities in this. Significant ones. But there's also going to be a disruption. There's going to be a significant part of our workforce that will need retraining. And what are the policy decisions? What legislation might need to change? What is the proper role of government and what is the role of the employer in this?

Rick Maher:                       You know, I've been heartened, as I say to hear the early reception you've gotten from the employer community out there, but it's clear to me in a system that struggles to have the resources to meet the current training demand left unchanged, we're not going to be able to retrain 15% of the American workforce alone. So I've got two questions and then I know we're probably running long and I want to be respectful of your time, but if you could just bear with me a little bit longer, there are a couple things here that I want to bring out from your experience in Washington that I think our listeners need to hear. First one is almost a little bit of a rewind for me.

Rick Maher:                       In the early part of the session you talked about the task force having gotten their arms around their work, meeting. Now they're focused on starting to come up with recommendations, but in the early days just getting educated and making some commitments on eight to 10 things that were areas of focus that they wanted to be able to impact. And when we first talked about this, you told me something that I thought was really, really impactful. You shared the fact that the great majority of a very, very powerful economy is based around Seattle and that one county there. And that you had a number of rural counties and communities that did not have the same reality today. They didn't have the same access to assets that people do inside Seattle. And so the task force had really decided that one of the stakeholders that they were dealing with here wasn't just employers and it wasn't just job seekers, but that you had identified another customer, if you will, of the community, which I thought was really interesting and important. Talk to me if you just have a few minutes. What did we mean by that and what is the task force concern about the community at large being a stakeholder here that they needed to make sure the interests were represented and dealt with?

Eleni Papadakis:                Yeah. So the, the community they see as a customer, yes. But also a partner in the solution finding. And they came to that place because we looked at the complexion of the business makeups of the different regions of the state in different counties and we were exploring this concept of place-based. So what is place-based? Did some of these businesses grow in this area because of the environment in the place? For instance, we have the largest mint-growing industry in the world, in this little community. And it was one person who started growing—and everybody grows mint in their yard, you know, they have it with their tea, all that. But then this person said, you know, I want to do more with it. I want to make candy, I want to do whatever.

Eleni Papadakis:                Anyway, that was years ago, and now it's become the hot spot for mint growing. So every time you brush your teeth, you're brushing your teeth with Washington mint. And there are other aspects of place. So this whole industry has grown in the area to support mint growing, mint production, shipping, distribution of mint, all of that is in that one area. But we've had other regions where they've had a single industry that cropped up and then it went away and the whole infrastructure implodes. And we have many blighted communities out there because they were left without any wherewithal to revitalize themselves.

Rick Maher:                       Kind of like the textile industry in South Carolina years ago.

Eleni Papadakis:                Exactly. And so without some intentional effort within a particular community, they're going to be left blighted and, people move away, and then it's just there. So we were identifying different communities, different counties and what their complexions are. And it happens that the Walmart Foundation actually, commissioned McKinsey Global Institute to look at the economic complexion of every county in the country. They came to a similar realization, the McKinsey folks, that wow, you can really start to identify what makes up a vibrant and vital community that's likely to succeed as the future overtakes them—and which ones are going to, if they're not already blighted, move into blight and lack whatever factors it takes to move them to economic vitality. So we're using some of that information now, but we're trying to figure out what services do we provide, and public policy both at the state and the federal level is always geared towards making the greatest impact.

Eleni Papadakis:                So by definition, we end up gearing public policy to urban and large population centers. On the business side, the federal policy uses the data that they have, which is usually from publicly traded companies, right? They don't get data from independently owned companies. And who makes up the most of the businesses in our rural and remote areas? So what we've said is we have got to figure out a way to allow policy development in our state to have the allowances to include flexibility for the communities so that they identify their problems, they figure out how to make use of the resources that they have. And we did these rural vitality forums. We did four of them in the different regions of the state. And what we heard from them was, we know that we're small population, and so we're not asking for more money from the state or the feds. We're asking for the flexibility to be able to use resources in the way that makes sense for our region, our community.

Eleni Papadakis:                And one of the things that that came up, I think it was in all four, at least three of the four, was discretionary grants that go out from the state and the feds that are usually, there's a quick turnaround. So you have to have staff capacity available. But they're also usually designed to develop pilots for new service models, to test out new service models, work differently with business, work differently with this population group, whatever it is. And then those pilots, if they're successful, may become part of the new policy environment going forward. And so these folks were saying to us, not only do you make it nearly impossible for a rural area to access these discretionary funds, but because you don't have any rural areas creating the pilots that are going to determine what the next wave of policy is…

Rick Maher:                       You don't reflect the same policy.

Eleni Papadakis:                It doesn’t reflect rural. And so the task force said, okay, we've got to tackle this as well. And as we're developing our policy recommendations, we've got to make these points about our communities that are being left behind. So that's why this idea of community became such a powerful driver for us. They also talk about community in terms of cultural communities. Because we do have the equity issues in our economy where people of color, immigrants, and refugees or native populations are being left behind, and the disability community is being left behind. So we've been talking about, as we think about the workplace of the future, can we bypass some of the hurdles that they've been hitting on? Because we should be able to use technology to help folks get to work and stay at work, as opposed to saying, you have to go into this training program and get on this career pathway and then you'll have access to the jobs down the line. Realistically, the first rungs of the traditional career ladders are either being totally overhauled or they're disappearing.

Rick Maher:                       Eliminated altogether. And that might be the opportunity as you point out, the silver lining. How can technology help us to overcome these barriers? But I love the fact that you guys identified community as a principal component for you to focus on your policy recommendations because it isn't good enough to say, well, people would be retrained. They just all have to move to Seattle. That isn't going to be an answer. And, and I think that's an important point for our listeners to hear. There is, I think whether you believe in the workforce Armageddon scenario or in the retraining scenario, this is a disruptive time, and it may be the challenge of our time and workforce. And, I talked to a guy that I really respect in a workforce system.

Rick Maher:                       I said, hey, are you guys talking about future of work in your board meetings or anything yet? And the response was, you know what, Rick? I've read a little bit about it, but honestly, we're so busy making measures in that line at the door that we haven't really focused on that. I mean, this is a good person who I know is smart, dedicated, and passionate about workforce. And I get off the phone, I thought to myself that, you know what, that's reality, but that just simply isn't good enough. Right? We need to start this discussion. People need to start that, think about these issues and they need to figure out how we're going to get in front of this curve so it doesn't knock us over. So, I want to move here to ramping, but I did want to ask you, Eleni, I know, you're still in the midst of this.

Rick Maher:                       In a way, it's almost unfair for me to ask you to talk about it yet, but I think it's so important for people to just hear your experience. So for those others of us in workforce that are not as far enough or far along down the queue as you are, do you have any thoughts on what you think our system needs to be doing today? I mean, obviously we don't have the answers, but it sounds like, some of the nuggets I pulled out of this, we need to find money to expose faculty to these ideas. Any other things that you would say to your peers in the workforce system? Look, guys, if you don't have the benefit of a taskforce yet, what as a system leader should I be thinking about and doing today when considering the future of work? Any ideas?

Eleni Papadakis:                Just a couple of quick ones. One is, we always talk about the business as partner with us. Um, and that has taken all different forms. But I think what we're, we're talking about here in Washington today is how do we create the right structure for business to see themselves as co-creators?

Rick Maher:                       Yeah, I love it.

Eleni Papadakis:                Of their talent development system, talent pipeline development system. And it's a different conversation you have with employers.

Rick Maher:                       Yes.

Eleni Papadakis:                If you're asking them for that. So we've been doing a lot more here with work-based learning where we know that our traditional education programs don't have the faculty expertise to train on very specific skill sets, but are employers willing to take people on for a period to give them the skills that they need? So that's one area, and I think it will take all different forms. The other thing I would say is to start exploring around the industries that are most critical to your economy, whether it's the state or your local area. One of the tricks that I use is I look for anecdotes in the paper and on the news and whatever. But if I see that an industry is doing something different, innovative, bringing on AI or dislocating all their workers, I look to their trade organizations and I find their trade journals and I usually look for those that have an international scope as well as a national scope.

Eleni Papadakis:                And I start reading what they're promoting, what they're saying about their industry. So, as an example, there was an article a couple years ago about a big hospital system that was moving a lot of their front-line workers off to an employee leasing company. And of course it was harming patient care, but they saved lots of money. They reduced all their wages and everything. And I said, oh, that's awful. That can't possibly be the norm. Let me go looking at these journals for hospital administrators. And lo and behold, there's a whole series of articles, it's under the category of reducing the cost of health care. But the articles were basically guidance on how to move many of your full-time permanent employees to contingent status. And I thought, "uh oh," so then I obviously start talking to our health care people here and say, is there any chance you're doing that and how do we make sure that you're not going to do that? What can the state do? Right? So it's just an example. There are loads of them out there, but if they haven't started looking to these industry journals, it's really the time to start.

Rick Maher:                       I think that's a great tip. I love the idea of co-creation with employers because, you know, one of the big questions for me is what our employers think their role is in this? And is there a social contract element here? Are they going to accept part of the burden—not all, because I think the public has an interest here as well—but in helping to retrain and migrate folks? I was thrilled to see, you may have noticed the business roundtable coming up with a statement this week.

Eleni Papadakis:                Yes.

Rick Maher:                       About that commitment. And I loved to hear your stories about how employers have bought in, at least so far in your dialogue in Washington, that's very hopeful to me. But the whole concept of employers as co-creators I think brings, that's central to the table. It's much different than the traditional employer as partner or as customer. So I love that, Eleni, and again, I want to thank you for your time and your talent here. I mean I know you guys, you mentioned to me were just cracking the surface, but frankly, no, you've done a lot more than that and I have a feeling there are going to be a number of other states—in fact, I know there are—New Jersey is setting up a task force now on the future of work as well. There are going to be other states that get the message that hey, this is a wave coming and we want to ride it.

Rick Maher:                       We don't want to get drowned by it. And I love the fact that you guys are the first in the country doing it. I love the fact that you were willing to share your experiences, your lessons learned with us in this process thus far. I think you're going to shorten everyone else's learning curve and that may not make it much better for you, Eleni, but it's going to make it better for the rest of us. And if people want to stay focused and continue to follow your progress, how might someone connect with you or with the task force work and follow what's going on in Washington State?

Eleni Papadakis:                The task force has a set of web pages that you can access through our main page, which is WTB, workforce training board, W-T-B dot W-A dot G-O-V. And if folks want to talk to me directly or communicate directly, my email is epapadakis@wtb.wa.gov.

Rick Maher:                       Awesome. And you know, I have a feeling you're going to get more than one or two new followers on LinkedIn too, Eleni. And again, I want to thank you for your being a pioneer in this and encourage people listening to really tune in, start to read, start to get educated. This is a big deal and we don't know, frankly how big a deal, but it's a big deal and you want to stay ahead of this curve and find the opportunity in it. That's another of the messages I think, Eleni, that you helped us with today. This isn't all doom and gloom. There's a potential upside here, but only if we've done the right preparation and we've got our policies aligned and our relationships queued up to take advantage of it. So thanks again so much. I so appreciate your involvement here.

Eleni Papadakis:                Oh, and thanks, Rick for letting us share the story. I actually feel better about it, talking to you.

Rick Maher:                       Well, I'm glad we could give you some relief from the day-to-day grind, and again, it's been wonderful. I appreciate it so much. So for now folks, until next time at Talent Talks, this is Rick Maher thanking Eleni and thanking you for listening and reminding you that at Talent Talks, we hope to explore, inform, and inspire you because we are all actors in what I call a global war for talent. One where talent is seen as the next global currency and where the one with the best talent development will be the victor in global prosperity. So we hope you've been inspired to take a risk, make a difference. We hope you'll dare to be great. Break something and make it better. Try, fail, fail fast, and try again. Thanks again for listening. Have a great day and we'll see you next month on Talent Talks.

Narrator:                            Thank you for listening to talent talks presented by Maher & Maher and IMPAQ International. For more information on what is being done to position America's workers, employers, and communities for future prosperity, sign up for our newsletter at mahernet.com/talenttalks. That's M-A-H-E-R-N-E-T.com/talenttalks.

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