Workshops & Roundtables: The Forum 2018

The Forum 2018 comes at a tumultuous time for the workforce system. The economy is changing, with old jobs disappearing and new ones appearing. Technology is making some jobs obsolete while radically reshaping others. Wage structures are changing; some new jobs are low wage, and some are project-based, a modern version of "piece-work." Many come without the insurance, pensions, and other benefits that were traditionally attached to employment in the U.S. Increasingly, there is little market need for individuals with just a high school degree -- or less -- and people with these skills are being shut out of good paying, middle-class jobs. Family-supporting wages require some type of post-secondary credential.

Employers are seeing the need for higher skills in the workforce, and in some cases, are taking on a larger role in economic and workforce development. Business must be a part of discussions mapping out a region's economic development strategy, and provide information about projected workforce and skill demands. They need to work with workforce development boards and education and training providers to ensure that training programs match their skill needs and to help define career ladders. They also need to be part of training programs, providing real-world problems for students to solve and locations for internships and job training. Finally, business needs to be a part of the broader policy conversation on how a workforce system should be configured and how we pay for skills development in the U.S. WIOA's purpose to better align the workforce system with education and economic development in an effort to create a collective response to economic and labor market challenges on the national, state, and local levels, necessitates partnership and a collective dialogue.

The Forum 2018 workshops and roundtables will be held on Sunday, March 25 and Monday, March 26. Workshops will be 75 minutes in length, while Roundtables are 25-minute discussions presented three times in quick succession during a workshop period at intimate tables of 10. Topics and schedules for the sessions are as follows:

Sunday Morning, March 25, 2018

Workshops – Innovations in Service Delivery: With changes in the environment come changes in resources. How is the workforce system using technology for effective and efficient service delivery? What cutting edge approaches to education and training is the system employing? Is the system forming partnerships with new organizations for new results? Are there new systematic approaches to service delivery? How are career ladders being developed and implemented? These workshops will discuss new service delivery strategies, how they were selected or developed, partners involved, and results, as well as conclusions on best practices and keys to success.

Workshops – Opportunities in Effective Operations: These sessions focus on board operations, including strategies for 21st century governance, and building boards with vision. Sessions may also demonstrate or provide case studies of how workforce organizations are using data driven decision-making practices, or employing research and analytics to drive operations. As workforce boards have broader responsibilities than WIOA Title I, the discussions of board operations will extend beyond this narrow scope to include development and application of innovative operational strategies, results of these innovations, and conclusions on best practices and keys to success.

Sunday Afternoon, March 25, 2018

Roundtables with Partner Organizations: A number of non-profit and research organizations, as well as business and industry associations, have programs and resources they would like to link with the workforce system. Attendees can make connections with potential national and regional partners who can enhance program offerings and increase ways of helping career seekers and businesses.

Monday Morning, March 26, 2018

Roundtables with the Federal Government: Many federal government departments and agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Housing and Urban Development, have employment and training programs they operate. These roundtable discussions will help workforce leaders understand the purpose of these programs, how they work, and how workforce development boards might partner with them.

Monday Afternoon March 26, 2018

Workshops – Industry Sector Strategies: Workforce boards -- viewed broadly -- have been asked to serve as leaders in connecting economic development, workforce development, and education in efforts to meet the needs of business and industry in their regions. They have also been asked to serve as intermediaries between business and education to develop appropriate curricula and career ladders. These workshops will discuss how industry sectors were selected, what organizations are involved in their efforts, what strategies were developed and how they were generated, and outcomes they are experiencing, as well as conclusions on best practices and keys to success.

Workshops – Business Services: Workforce boards -- viewed broadly -- have been asked to work more directly with employers, to ensure that their needs are met. These workshops address topics including apprenticeships, on-the-job training, incumbent worker training, customized training, and internships. Programs placing youth in summer employment and year-round internships fit this category as well. Discussions include how these programs/companies were selected; services provided; roles of the businesses, board, and other partners; and outcomes and impacts, as well as conclusions on best practices and keys to success.

“We try to make it to the Forum every year. We bring back so much new information and knowledge that we can use in our work as a board.”

~ Ted Taveras, Board Chair, Workforce Solutions - Heart of Texas