Promoting Innovation in Skills Development

Finding the right job is closely tied to the education and skills you have. That’s why the Labor Department is so focused on doing everything we can to connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be filled jobs – and to connect employers with skilled workers.

In order to do this, we’re constantly trying to improve the way we deliver workforce services – one such example is through the Workforce Innovation Fund. On Thursday, we hosted over 120 WIF grantees for a two-day conference where they learned and shared promising practices for engaging businesses, as well as creating viable pathways for budding entrepreneurs. As part of this convening, WIF grantees from Ohio and Pennsylvania participated in a panel discussion with Secretary Perez to share their creative solutions for taking employment and training services to the next level. Businesses are constantly adapting to market forces, and that’s what our workforce system needs to do, too.

There were several hundred people in the room, but hundreds more joined and participated in a live Q-and-A session via Twitter. You can see the robust conversation below:

Groups like the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board are a perfect example of how these grantees are building a new climate for training and economic growth. With Labor Department funds, they are developing close partnerships between local apprenticeship, education and workforce system provides to train a pool of job seekers with 21st-century advanced manufacturing skills. They are connecting these qualified job seekers with local employers at the earliest stages. The impact? Fewer manufacturing workers are unemployed, and employers are drawn to the area to set up operations because they know it’s a place where they can find a pipeline of qualified workers.

That’s just one example. The fund is creating the space for dozens of similar examples around the country. It’s exciting to see these projects develop − and eventually replicated on a national scale. These are the kinds of innovations that will make the public workforce system more nimble and responsive to the needs of both businesses and job seekers.

Earlier that same day, Secretary Perez and I met with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Siemens CEO and President Eric Spiegel, and representatives from the Business Roundtable to talk about how businesses and industry associations can collaborate with the workforce system to ensure that workers are getting trained in the skills that employers need. We’re working closely with Commerce and other departments when it comes to job-driven training to ensure workers have the skills they need to be successful and businesses have the workers they need to to be competitive.

Secretary Perez and Secretary Pritzker meet with business leaders.

Clockwise from top: Siemens CEO Eric Spiegel, Business Roundtable President Gov. John Engler; Business Roundtable Vice President Dane Linn, Commerce Department Senior Policy Advisers David Langdon and Kate McAdams, Secretary Pritzker, Secretary Perez and Labor Department acting Assistant Secretary Eric Seleznow.

We truly value the input we receive from the business community. After returning from the Commerce Department, Secretary Perez and I met with about 30 representatives from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group to hear some of their key needs, as well as what works. For example, a number of the leaders noted that we must continue expanding access to science, technology, engineering and math education and training for the American workforce to stay competitive. Some talked about the importance of reforming our immigration system so that we are supporting American workers while also attracting the best talent from around the world. And everyone agreed that veterans − one of our nation’s greatest resources − have the skills to help businesses succeed. As MetricStream CEO Shellye Archambeau said, “The veterans in our country have those skills. It’s our duty to train them for jobs in the tech sector.”

Representatives from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group participate in a roundtable discussion with Secretary Perez.

Representatives from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group participate in a roundtable discussion with Secretary Perez.

This is just a snapshot of the work we do every day to ensure that workers and businesses have what they need to succeed in today’s economy. Have an idea for what more we can do? We’d love to hear from you

Eric Seleznow is the acting assistant secretary of labor for the Employment and Training Administration.

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  1. Donald M. Fitch,MS says:

    Thank you understanding the difference between soft & hard skills,for putting the employers in charge of vocational curriculum & for encouraging Schools/Providers to partner w/ Employers. Next, pls demo how the schools computer labs can become job skills learning labs, how Skype can create online jobs for the disabled, how persons diagnosed w IDD, with I Q s as low as 60 can benefit from keybord training ( Mavis) /data entry, how folks on the spectrum proof code, how integrated online workplaces are viable, why the SSI earnings cap of 1/2 of gross earnings over $85.00/ mo. Needs to be restructured, why flipped classrooms work, why visual learning is critical, especially for ASD students, push to transform the common vaguely worded IEPs, which measure nothing eg ” Johnny will explore job opportunities in his community “, to ; ” Johnny will increase his keybording speed from 12/wpm @ 80% accuracy to 25/wpm @ 90% accuracy by the third quarter” . I’ve found most Principles/Administrators are waiting for an official memo giving them permission to get out of their comfort zone. Please give it to them , the children can’t wait much longer. Thank you, Don

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