Thursday, January 26, 2012

Green Jobs Training Program Students Part 2

If you read our post on Tuesday, you watched an interview of some first-hand experience of the great things going on at one of our workforce partners, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. Their Green Jobs Training Program is focused on building a "green collar workforce" by training unemployed, low-skilled workers for the jobs of the future.
Below, we've captured the story of another student of the program, Ms. Vedus Jackson.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

State of the Union Acknowledges Skills Gap

Last night, President Obama gave his annual State of the Union Address (if you missed it, you can watch and read it here). In his speech, he acknowledges that there is a growing gap between the skills people have and the jobs available:

           "I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills.  Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job." 
                               -President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 24th, 2012

Andy Van Kleunen, Executive Director of the National Skills Coalition, applauded the President's commitment to train 2 million workers through a streamlined workforce system built on partnerships with businesses. Van Kleunen agrees that talking to employers and talking to workers is the best way to assess and get a real idea of the skills gap that exists. Read Van Kluenen's complete response to the State of the Union Address here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Green Jobs Training Program Students Part 1

One of the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund's workforce partners is Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. This partnership focuses on DWEJ's Green Jobs Training Program.

The goals in this program are to:
  • provide meaningful employment opportunities to underemployed and unemployed individuals, primarily in Detroit
  • create equality in accessing green jobs and creating green businesses for Detroit residents
  • expand opportunities for local businesses in green and brownfield industries through a highly skilled and trained Detroit-based workforce
  • transform the lives and communities of Detroit through sustainable, environmentally just and green job practices.
To hear first-hand the impact of the Green Jobs Training Program, watch the following interview of one of the program's students, Mr. Joseph Character.

Check back later this week for more interviews of students in the Green Jobs Training Program!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The State of the State

This past Wednesday, January 18th, Governor Rick Snyder addressed the Michigan legislature for his second State of the State address in Lansing. 
He stated that his administration had some unfinished business to tackle in 2012: 
"We have far too many young people who are not leaving school with the education they need to succeed in the future. We have an economic climate – it has left too many people unemployed, underemployed or forced to leave the state.  Particularly our young people. We will address these unaddressed issues and solve them and not put them off as we have in the past."--Governor Rick Snyder 1/18/2012
Increasing adult educational attainment is critical to connecting the 1 in 2 residents of the city of Detroit who are unemployed and underemployed right now to good jobs in our new economy. This includes newly minted adults—or the young people that the governor refers to.  This is a critical opportunity for Detroit, where we know that access to services to improve basic skills (e.g., reading, writing, math, digital literacy), especially those that relate to careers, is extremely limited in and around the city.
In May of 2011, The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund released a study demonstrating the need for more basic literacy skills opportunities– reading and math—for the Metro Detroit area.  As the governor and his staff take a deep dive into the issues of our region’s unemployed and underemployed, I hope they review the recommendations proposed.  They are still just as valid in January 2012 as they were eight months ago.   You can find that report here

In case you missed it, you can listen to Gov. Snyder's State of the State Address here

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Our Policy Principles for Workforce Development

Welcome to Connecting the Dots, the official blog of the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund!

On December 1st, 2011, Governor Rick Snyder gave a special message on his plans for workforce development in Michigan and tonight he will give his State of the State address. As a result of his speech, we have developed our own policy principles for workforce development in Metro Detroit.

Our Principles for Workforce Development Policy: Capacity, Flexibility, Access

The Detroit Regional Workforce Fund (DRWF) is a regional public/private collaborative that convenes key stakeholders in workforce development and invests in innovative workforce solutions for Detroit and Southeastern Michigan. DRWF envisions a healthy community that creates the conditions for financial stability of all residents, and the economic vitality of businesses in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. Key to this vision is a competitive core city workforce that connects to and propels economic growth in the region and state. 

DRWF is committed to improving the region’s workforce system by supporting employer-led workforce partnerships that create long-term relationships between employers and service providers, aligning public and private resources in new ways around workforce development. Michigan is facing important decisions about its workforce development system that will underpin the economic future of our state. Crucial federal funding for workforce development activities is at risk, and it is clear that state workforce development policies must adjust to 21st century realities in order to spur Michigan’s recovery and long-term prosperity. It is our hope that state and federal policymakers will keep in mind three key principles as they make decisions about workforce development policy and funding: capacity, flexibility and access.

Our principles for workforce development policy
Our experience attests to the need for state policies that grow the workforce development system’s capacity to meet employers’ and community needs; offer flexibility to participants and employers; and ensure access to services to anyone willing to work.

Our work in Detroit and Southeastern Michigan
Together with our cross-sector partners, we have pursued solutions for the region that demonstrate the promise of these three principles:
  • We are maximizing capacity by aligning public and private resources to support innovative, sector-specific partnerships that link individuals to career pathways.
  • We are building a regional talent hub that expands employers’ capacity to discover local talent in emerging sectors by pre-screening and classifying qualified resident job-seekers.
  • We are enhancing flexibility by supporting programs that address the specific needs of targeted communities, populations, and employers in Detroit and Southeastern Michigan urban areas.
  • We are promoting access to needed services by drawing attention to the basic skills gap in our region, and opportunities available to address it.
  • We are improving capacity, flexibility, and access by bringing all urban market workforce development stakeholders to the table to ensure local residents are prepared for work that meets the needs of local employers.

Michigan’s workforce development system does not have the capacity necessary to meet the demand for quality workforce development opportunities. The current system is underfunded and does not provide for responsiveness to employer needs.
Public policy must ensure that the workforce development infrastructure in Michigan operates at full capacity. This includes funding for adult education programs, as well as strategies that optimize public and private resources by inducting a diverse and comprehensive cohort of individuals and organizations into the workforce development network. 

Michigan’s workforce development system is not flexible enough to meet the needs of various populations and employers. The one-size-fits-all model we currently have cannot fully serve Detroit and Southeastern Michigan, where job seekers include both the chronically unemployed and individuals with a history of consistent employment.
The workforce development system must offer a flexible service delivery system which meets the needs of employers, employees, and our community. Policies should focus on meeting the needs of multiple populations by delivering the right services at the right time to the right people; and creating career pathways with an appreciation for lifelong learning, accelerating the careers of individuals at all levels. 

Too many individuals face barriers that prohibit full participation in the workforce.
Public policies must alleviate the various barriers to workforce participation for those who want to work. Major barriers can be addressed through investment in adult literacy and adult learning service delivery models that focus on innovation and best practices to eliminate the basic skills gap.

We look forward to sharing more of our story with you in the coming weeks.