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 transition points is critical. One of those opportunities is upon us now. H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, the bill that reauthorizes the 2006 Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was signed into law on July 31st, 2018. Eligible agencies will be developing a Transition Plan for FY 2019 followed by a Perkins V State Plan in FY 20 for FY 2020-23, or a Perkins V State Plan that covers five years, which includes a transition year in FY 2019 and then a four-year period covering FY 2020-23. Under either option, the State may choose to submit its State Plan as part of its Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Combined State Plan.
Another current opportunity to revisit the WIOA Unified or Combined State Plans is a change in administration. 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 dream big and work with your State Board and core partners like Career and Technical Education to develop a true strategic plan or refresh your existing strategic plan in the context of the new law and/or a new administration. Specifically, the opportunity before state leaders and partners is to develop a comprehensive talent development supply chain management system that truly integrates key strategies, such as, sector strategies, career pathways, apprenticeship and work-based learning to build or strengthen strong regional economies.
In order to seize upon that opportunity, state leaders must paint the picture for regions and local areas so that they can visualize that dream and provide critical supports to help them achieve it. It starts with strong communications with internal messaging horizontally and vertically that is consistent, and external messaging that articulates the vision for system partners. Another key step is policy development that supports the vision as well as joint policy development with partner agencies that supports the integration of WIOA key strategies. State technical assistance around WIOA and other existing TA strategies should also reinforce the integrated vision. Opportunities for staff development include customer centered design and continuous improvement for state agencies and programs. Discretionary funding priorities should align with the vision and integrated service strategy and incorporate customer centered design approach in funding opportunities. Finally, technology investments must support integrated data and management systems for business and individual customers and reinforce a team-based approach to services.
Achieving this requires unprecedented planning, partnership, and policy alignment at the state, regional and local levels of the workforce system. In our experience, key operational strategies that drive this culture change include: focusing on the business and individual customer; aligning programs and partners and connecting their targeted populations to the pipeline; making decisions based on data; and being transparent and accountable. Thus, state leaders need to be truly deliberative and thoughtful regarding the investment of Governor’s discretionary funds and Rapid Response state-level funds, as well as work in collaboration with state partners in economic development, education (K-Gray), vocational rehabilitation, human services, and business partners and their resources.
Please let us know what you’d like to hear more about in the comments, and stay tuned!
Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The firm is U.S. Department of Labor’s national technical assistance provider supporting the Employment and Training Administration’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and a number of other priority initiatives of the administration that advance and promote the public workforce system. Maher is also currently involved in a number of sector strategy, regional planning, organizational strategic planning and training initiatives in multiple state and regional areas. For more information about our services, visit our website or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.