|Daryl Hennessy's Opening Remarks - Spring 2003 For the Common Good Institute May 21, 2003|
Thank you for the opportunity to be with you this morning to kick off For the Common Good's Spring 2003 institute. For those who don't know, I have had the privilege of serving as the Executive Director to the Ohio Workforce Policy Board ("Board") since October 2002. Although there have been some significant challenges during this time, it is a privilege for me to work with people that care so deeply about the success of Ohio's workforce structure. It is also a privilege to know that the Governor's office has confidence in my ability to help navigate the public policy and administrative challenges associated with improving Ohio's workforce system. We cannot afford to fail in our task to build an effective workforce system in this state if Ohio is to remain a competitive economic force in our region, country, and world.
I know the challenges to creating a universally effective workforce system are immense and that the stakes are high, but I also know that the desire to succeed is shared by many, including people who are a part of this organization.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak with organization's like this because it helps me fulfill a personal objective, which is to put a face to the work of the Ohio Workforce Policy Board and share their vision of a successful workforce system. There are many talented members of that Board who have devoted incredible amounts of time to develop a policy agenda that will fulfill the Governor's mission to create the nation's premier workforce development system in Ohio.
In order to understand the Board's vision for One-Stop service delivery, I think it is first important to understand the Board's broader vision of what constitutes an effective workforce development system. The One-Stop center system is just one, albeit very important, component of the larger system. The details of that vision can be found in the AdvanceOhio strategic plan, which was released in December 2002 and can be found on the state's workforce development website (http://www.ohioworkforce.org/docs/gwpb/advanceohio.pdf). If you haven't already seen this document, I highly encourage you to spend some time reviewing the document and looking for ways that the state can collaborate with your local workforce development efforts to advance our shared goals and objectives.
At the heart of the AdvanceOhio document is the Board's desire to create a comprehensive workforce development system that effectively integrates the state's economic development, workforce development, and education and training programs and services to better meet the needs of Ohio businesses, communities, and residents. The primary customers of the system are employers and current and future workers, not the perpetuation of ineffective infrastructures or bureaucracies. Having said that, the Board recognizes that there are many existing systems and collaborations that effectively meet the needs of the primary customers and it is not their intent to negatively affect such partnerships.
The Board based the development of its strategic plan on a number of core values. Primary among them, is a desire to create a workforce system that (1) will ensure the economic competitiveness of Ohio's employers and workers, (2) is customer driven and involves the meaningful participation of private sector representatives, (3) is implemented at the local level, and (4) encourages the creation of partnerships and alignment of programs at the state and local levels to maximize the use of scarce resources. Although agreement on these values might be widely shared, our challenge will come in reaching consensus and implementing programs that are consistent with these core values.
In my recent travels around the state, I have heard numerous comments from local workforce development professionals about the role of the state policy board and a degree of confusion/frustration with some of its most recent actions. In particular, I have heard people express their concerns that the Board has not articulated a consistent message about its expectations for a workforce system in our state. I am here today to tell you that the goals and action items contained in the AdvanceOhio plan will provide the general framework for discussions on upcoming policy proposals and actions of the state policy board for the foreseeable future. We will continue to ask ourselves how each proposal relates to the goals and objectives of AdvanceOhio and measure our performance against the desired outcomes stated in the plan.
The plan includes seven ambitious goals for achieving a comprehensive workforce development system in Ohio. I would like to take a moment to briefly discuss each of them.
To begin, Ohio must develop and implement an effective employment recruitment and job search services system. Many of you are familiar with the efforts, and some may even have participated in the development and testing of the Sharing Career Opportunities and Training Information System (http://www.ohioworkforce.org/scoti/scoti.html,) that staff from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services have been building for several months. On behalf of the Board, let me thank you for participating in the design of a system that many on the Board believes holds real promise for effectively capturing and reporting the performance of Ohio's local workforce delivery services. But simply reporting program activity will not be enough to achieve the high performance workforce system that the Board envisions. The job matching enhancements of the system that are expected later this year will more directly address the Board's goal to support a system of employment recruitment and placement services that provides value to employers and job seekers. I encourage you to actively engage your employer community in identifying job leads to place in the system and aggressively maintain the data so as to ensure it is current, accurate, and useful.
Another goal of the Board is to enhance the career information and development opportunities available to job seekers, including the promotion of work based learning opportunities for students. That is why the Governor has spent $1.0 million in discretionary workforce development funds to assist membership based organizations around the state research and develop graduate retention initiatives, many of which are based on linking college students, academic institutions, and employers with meaningful paid internship opportunities. Not only does this work based opportunity provide valuable hands on experience for students, it enriches their academic learning experience, exposes them to career opportunities within the state, and helps employers with their business development efforts. The final results of the Graduate Retention Initiative are expected later this year, and both the Board and I look forward to seeing the results to determine if any particular approach has statewide application.
The Governor's policy board has also indicated that Ohio will only achieve a world-class workforce system if it effectively integrates its numerous education and training enterprises into the system. Moreover, these enterprises must provide individuals with the skills that employers need to be competitive and individuals need to succeed in their career.
Ohio has an impressive array of two and four year public and private higher educational institutions, adult career technical centers, and a long history of support for apprenticeship programs. A high performing workforce system requires that these institutions collaborate and complement the efforts of each other. That is not to say that all education and training providers should be the same. In fact, the diversity of their offerings is yet another strength of Ohio's education and training infrastructure. The Board's vision for a comprehensive workforce system simply calls for better alignment of these programs to support Ohio's economy. Moreover, the Board is challenging Ohio's education and training providers to focus more of their resources on assisting the needs of incumbent workers, designing additional learning experiences around occupational skill standards, and creating new articulation agreements that recognize and improve the portability of credit and non-credit learning experiences for Ohioans trying to advance their career. There are many positive examples in the state where educational institutions and training providers are already focused on the stated policy objectives of the Board. If you are one of those providers, thank you. If you are not, I encourage you to think deeply about your institution's current activities and look around to your employer community for opportunities to shift resources in a way that aligns more closely with the economy.
One effort that is currently underway to improve collaboration between educational institutions is the Higher Skills Partnership initiative. To date, the Board has allocated just over $1.2 million to assist in the creation of 29 partnership agreements throughout the state. These agreements are designed to promote the formation of comprehensive service partnerships across Ohio among its two-year community and technical colleges and the Adult Workforce Education Centers. These partnerships will give employers a single point of contact to access fast, flexible, total training solutions needed to build higher worker skills. The initiative recognizes that building higher worker skill levels requires a higher level of collaboration among these publicly funded adult workforce training organizations. I am pleased to report that the Board has provided funding for at least one partnership in each of the twelve economic development regions of the state and I am told in many parts of the state these partnerships are already working closely with the One-Stop centers to provide companies with fast and flexible responses to their training needs.
Another goal of the Board is to provide comprehensive services at the state and local levels that will result in the successful retention of employees. If there has been one aspect of Ohio's workforce system that seems to be generally accepted as a success over the past three years it is the integration of workforce services for job seekers transitioning from public assistance. For those who work with this population, you know that the barriers to employment can be significant. Whether those barriers are transportation, daycare, or rehabilitation services, Ohio's local workforce service providers have been finding ways to address the needs of such job seekers. I encourage you to keep up the good work but also to commit yourself to continuous improvement. Employers tell me that there is still room for improving the basic work skills of such employees so that they are fully contributing and participating in the workplace.
Earlier, I had said that one of the core values guiding the development of the Board's vision for workforce development was that it should be business led. To that end, the state policy board has instructed me to create twelve industry-based advisory boards to explore the current and projected employment needs of each sector. To date, a health care advisory board has been established and is working on the development of a direct caregiver campaign to increase the supply of workers providing direct services to patients. The work is hard but rewarding and offers an immediate employment opportunity for persons interested in a career in the health care field. Moreover, the advisory board is currently developing career pathway information for persons in the health care field for the purpose of helping some people advance in their career while encouraging others to stay in the field who might be considering leaving the industry because they are burned out with their current job.
I mention the specific actions of this advisory board because I think it will serve as a model for the other eleven that follow. Not only will the information gathered by these boards provide useful insight into the workforce trends of an industry, you may find the data helpful in crafting a local solution to specific industry workforce needs in your area of the state.
No comprehensive system of workforce services would be complete without an assessment of Ohio's performance. That is why the Board has said that it will focus some of its energies on developing comprehensive workforce development performance indicators. Of course, there are already many measures of performance that exist in the workforce development field. Most, however, are focused on the activities of a single program. The state policy board has told me that that won't be enough. We must develop performance measures that reach across the workforce development, economic development, and education and training systems to create a set of comprehensive measures that accurately reflect performance. Moreover, measures of activity, while useful in some respects, do not measure the true impact of the system. In the coming months, I will be working with an interagency team of workforce development professionals, including representatives from the Governor's office, to recommend a comprehensive set of performance measures. It is our intent that these measures, and Ohio's performance, will be publicly reported in an annual report card. I think this will be some of the most exciting work of the Board in the near term and encourage you to share your thoughts and comments with me on this project as we work through the details.
Finally, this brings me back to the system of One-Stop centers. The Board has clearly articulated that a comprehensive and effective workforce system for Ohio will provide a full range of workforce services through an integrated and fully functioning local workforce development system. In the minds of the Board, this includes not only a select set of at least 36 full service, comprehensive One Stop centers but also a series of access points or satellite facilities that create a web of service opportunities for employers and job seekers.
Much has been said in recent months about the Board's March 2003 resolution regarding the allocation of state resources to at least 36 full service, comprehensive One-Stop centers. It is not about selecting at least 36 winners and approximately 70 losers. As previously stated, the Board is trying to develop a workforce development system that is among the premier systems in the country. A system is composed of many parts, not all of which are identical, but collectively form a unitary whole. Moreover, let me assure you that the allocation of state resources to select sites does not mean that sustainable existing facilities will be eliminated. In fact, it is possible that the collaboration of partner agencies and regional workforce facilities may result in enhanced services at some of the existing "One-Stop" centers. But it won't happen without the development of regional alignments among communities and existing centers. In my mind, it will only occur if these alignments come together and negotiate in good faith over the appropriate use of state resources.
Let me finish my remarks by referencing a document I recently prepared regarding the desired characteristics of a full service, comprehensive One-Stop center. Although never explicitly approved by the Board, I believe the document captures the essence of their vision for a comprehensive workforce system and the spirit of recent discussions among state policy board members. These characteristics begin with the notion that full service, comprehensive One-Stop centers should be centered around the labor market of employers and commuting patterns of workers. To me, this suggests that virtually all regional alignments of communities should extend beyond the county borders. Having said that, I appreciate the concerns that local elected officials raise regarding their duty to carefully administer the expenditure of workforce development funds and that relinquishing this authority to others is risky business. It is a very real issue that we must address but one that we must overcome if Ohio is to create a world-class workforce system.
And finally, two other characteristics that I think are worth noting regarding the selection of full service, comprehensive One-Stop centers is that they should be designed to (1) meet the needs of employers and complement the economic development strategies of the region and (2) involve not only the participation of mandated workforce partners but also preferred partners such as community and technical colleges. As you work on the difficult task of forming effective One-Stop center services in your area of the state I encourage you to keep these characteristics in mind.
As I mentioned at the outset, we cannot afford to fail in our task of creating an effective workforce development system. It is too important to the future economic viability of our state and the quality of life for Ohioans.