KRA SVP Challenges WD Community to “Step it Up in 2013!”

The following is a reprint of an article written by Don Scott, KRA Senior Vice President for Workforce Development and Chair of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals’ (NAWDP) Board of Directors, for the NAWDP Advantage newsletter.  It is a thought-provoking call-to-action for workforce development professionals nationwide and worthy of sharing with all our readers.

2013 promises to be a challenging and exciting year for the workforce development family, in general and NAWDP, specifically.

We are all blessed to be able to work in an area that is broad, deep, and ever changing. (I saw some of you roll your eyes on the “ever-changing” part). However, think about it, we work in an industry where we have the privilege to impact individuals, families, businesses and communities with the commitment we bring to making Americans more productive each day. We do it by assisting our returning veterans and their spouses in transitioning to employment in civilian life.

We do it by helping folks gain employment and skills, but more than that our services provide dignity and pride in accomplishment. We play a role in education and training- academia and vocational. We impact the bottom line of private sector businesses both small and large. We aid he public sector in meeting their goals through efficient use of the public’s resource to keep America competitive in world. Our industry is broad and connected to every worthwhile endeavor in this great land.

To stay relevant in 2013, NAWDP and all workforce development professionals, have to stay engaged in the conversation that is affecting the way we do business now and will continue to do business in the future. Our membership is broad and deep and, for the most part, untapped. I believe NAWDP is a sleeping giant. It is time that we awake and offer more leadership to the country and be more engaged in the conversation.

Whether you are a trainer for our military, a professor or administrator in our community colleges, it is time that we start voicing our beliefs and articulating our value. Whether you are a case manager in a welfare to work program or a job developer in a one-stop, it is time to get more involved in NAWDP. Whether you own your own business and serve on public boards that oversee workforce programs or work for a local, state, or federal agency, we all have to become more engaged.

We have heard over and over about duplicative services. We have heard that we need to consolidate. In some instances, that’s true. We need to embrace those changes and lead the conversation. We should not let the alphabet soup of all of the different funding sources and names of our programs devalue the great work that we do.  We should not let the different programs that unite us all under the guise of workforce, divide us.

However, we also have a role in providing why there are so many different programs that fall under the workforce umbrella. We need to explain that different problems require different solutions. Our programs are diverse and expansive because the folks we serve demand it and require it.  Quality youth and adult employment and training programs require customization. Mothers with young children in our adult welfare to work programs have different challenges and opportunities that an older worker who was recently let go after 20 years at the same place of employment.  These dynamics that we often call “eligibility requirements” help determine the focus of our programs and aid us in designing a holistic business based model for success.

Veterans returning from Afghanistan transitioning from military service face another set of challenges and opportunities. A small businesswoman looking for talent in a three person office needs a different solution than a large corporation. Workforce Development professionals know and understand that.

So what do we do? In 2013, I am challenging myself and all of us to do more.  I meet a number of workforce development professionals. For the most part, we are humble and we take pride in serving others. In 2013, we need to start bragging a little. We need to start letting our family and friends, clergy, and locally elected officials know the value of what we do.

In 2013, I envision NAWDP taking a more active role in the national dialogue about jobs, education, and training. In Bridget Brown, our Executive Director, we have the knowledge and expertise to contribute and lead.  I am asking all NAWDP members and friends to step it up in 2013!”