The California Workforce Association’s annual Meeting of the Minds (MMM) took place September 5–7 in Monterey, Calif. This year’s theme was “Driven by Demand,” and focused on high-level discussions on the state and direction of the workforce development system. The gathering of thought leaders and policy makers focused on helping the public workforce system become even more demand driven. Sessions—many led by staff of the San Diego Workforce Partnership—focused on policies, programs and practices that capture how business and industry engagement is evolving, and how the “supply side” is changing in response to this more in-depth partnership with business.
On day 1, Youth Program Manager Sara Fox participated in a panel called “Implementing Workforce Navigator Programs to Improve Systems Alignment and Services for English Learners and Immigrants,” which shared concrete steps toward building partnerships, outreach, case management, and referral strategies that bridge adult education and workforce system gaps and address cultural, language and other barriers that limit access and opportunities for English learners to complete job training programs.
Director of Programs Andrew Picard was part of a session with Virginia Hamilton, Region 6 Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, called “Designing for Continuous Improvement and Innovation,” which explored how human-centered design can bring change and improvement in systems. The session provided valuable insights into using data, research findings, and design methods to improve the impact on businesses, job seekers and workers, as well as workplace culture.
On day 2, COO Andy Hall joined a panel called “Using an Outcomes Orientation to Increase Impact in Workforce,” which shared ways to implement pay-for-performance and outcomes-based contracts through WIOA, subsidized employment and employers as end-payers to develop evidence-based workforce systems.
Deputy Director of Programs Brooke Valle and Manager of Adult Programs Vicki Brannock led a session called “A Transformation Approach That Takes Training to the Next Level,” which discussed strategies for tailoring the training approach to priority sectors, aligning to the labor markets “in-demand” jobs, maximizing free and online training opportunities, partnering with Adult Education and Community Colleges, streamlining the audit and compliance process, implementing performance dashboards for ETPL and automating payment processing.
One day three, Hall was on a panel that looked at the state of regional planning efforts in WIOA regional strategic plans in a session called “Regional Strategic Planning in Different Contexts: Moving from Rote Planning to True Strategic Work of Regional Significance.”
First conceived by Hamilton and conference curator John Baker 20 years ago, MMM is a gathering of workforce and economic development professionals, along with key education and state partners. This year’s program featured over 150 workshop presenters and over 600 attendees.
“The team did an outstanding job presenting on varied best practices,” said SDWP President and CEO Peter Callstrom. “The feedback and interest from attendees were outstanding. In addition to the presentations, SDWP is well recognized for its comprehensive and high-quality communications methods and materials, use of technology and more. San Diego can be very proud of the SDWP’s leadership position and impact in workforce development.”