Nearly a decade ago, the public workforce system began a process of change. Instead of its traditional focus on workers and job seekers, the public workforce system realized that it needed to better understand and respond to the demand side of the employment equation: employers and their stated skill needs. No longer could the workforce system simply function as a placement agency, finding jobs for unemployed workers. Instead, it would also need to be proactive: anticipating future job needs in high-growth industries; working with employers to avoid layoffs; proactively retraining workers when layoffs were unavoidable; establishing partnerships with educational institutions to begin the development of a “talent pipeline” to respond to the changing demands of a global economy; and much more.
Following on several key labor initiatives over the years, such as the President’s High-Growth Job Training Initiative in 2002, the President’s Community-Based Job Training Grant Initiative in 2005, and the WIRED initiative of 2006, ETA began planning a framework for a series of national Transformational Forums. The purpose of these Forums was to penetrate the transformation that had begun at the top, through all layers of the public workforce system, from executive leadership all the way down to One-Stop Career Center managers and front-line staff. Because of our firm’s previous success in achieving the ambitious goals of a dislocated worker program change management initiative, the US Department of Labor’s Employment Training Administration (ETA) again engaged Maher & Maher to lead this new system-wide, national change management effort.
From the Fall of 2007 through the Spring of 2008, Maher & Maher worked hand-in-hand with ETA to design and deliver three Transformational Forums, held in Seattle, Chicago, and Baltimore. In addition to logistics planning, we delivered a comprehensive learning, strategic consulting, and action planning model, and facilitated the individual change process for 60 workforce system teams from across the country.
After the forums, our firm continued to serve as ETA’s lead technical assistance partner for participating teams, developing training and learning activities on advancing change, growing leadership networks, improving team collaboration, implementing enhanced communication strategies, and re-engineering operations. As a part of ETA’s technical assistance strategy, Maher & Maher also developed the very first Community of Practice at ETA, laying the groundwork for enhanced Forums team collaboration, and providing a foundation upon which to build other future Communities of Practice.
As a result of our firm’s work, the 60 Forums teams developed and are implementing strategic change action plans, re-designing front-line business processes to advance their strategic vision, and executing leadership evaluation and development plans to enhance effectiveness.