Workforce Development Boards: Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

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Written by: Lexi Anderson and Tom Keily
Oct. 14, 2019
This is the second installment of a three-part blog series on workforce development. Per federal legislation, each state must create a workforce development board that meets requirements regarding membership and functions. However, states go above those requirements to best serve their own workforce needs. This series digs deeper into how states expand their board membership to include key stakeholders, go beyond their required charge and act on various motivators for greater economic development gains.

See our infographic for more on workforce development systems.

As states assess their workforce needs and opportunities for further economic development, workforce boards commonly go beyond the 12 required functions set out in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). (We highlight some of those required functions here.) States go beyond these requirements by aligning with governors’ workforce development priorities and initiatives and setting out missions and state plans for workforce development activities. While this process looks different in every state, the following state examples highlight unique approaches to workforce board missions and charges.

In an effort to link workforce activities with the state’s attainment goal, Maine’s State Workforce Board monitors workforce agency and statewide goals, making recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the workforce system. The board specifically ensures a balance between rural and urban workforce development and supports monitoring the postsecondary and credential attainment goal.

In Minnesota, the mission of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board sets out to analyze and recommend workforce development policies — relating to talent development, resource alignment and system effectiveness — to ensure the state has a workforce that is globally competitive. The board oversees priorities and initiatives, including a strategic plan; career pathways; executive initiatives; racial equity in education, training and employment committee; and WIOA. The board outlines a vision to ensure public, private and community resources are strategically aligned to competitively position people and businesses in the state for increased and sustained economic prosperity.

The Vermont Workforce Development Board advises the governor and commissioner of labor on the development and implementation of a comprehensive, coordinated and responsive workforce education and training system. A core duty requires the board to gather feedback and information about the education and training needs of employers, workers and job seekers statewide. In 2018, H. 919 directed the board to collaborate with state agencies to align, coordinate and engage workforce stakeholders. This collaboration resulted in an implementation plan incorporating key stakeholders in workforce activities across the state.

The Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment aligns the state’s workforce and talent development initiatives and investments through its economic development strategies. In the interest of moving the state’s economy forward, the board aids employers in finding workers they need, as well as providing resources for workers to access training for in-demand careers. The council developed the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan to ensure careers with high market value and in-demand skill sets are filled with the most qualified individuals, providing the state with a competitive advantage to attract and retain business and talent.

Through the efforts outlined here, states are not only meeting federal mandates under WIOA, but also adapting initiatives and outreach to best meet the economic development demands in their state. It proves economically advantageous for workforce boards to expand their purview to include coordinating statewide initiatives, incorporating data into future workforce planning and aligning key stakeholders behind multiple state-level goals.

Which brings us to our third and final topic, asking the question: What motivates states to act on workforce development, and how can they align efforts and activities to fulfill their given charge? Our next post explores that.

Author profile

Lexi Anderson

Lexi Anderson

Assistant Director at Education Commission of the States |

In her role, Lexi oversees project management for Education Commission of the States' policy work. Lexi has more than 10 years of experience working as a higher education administrator and policy analyst, with the past five years focused on postsecondary transition policies. When Lexi is not immersed in the education policy world, she can be found running, skiing or exploring with her toddler in the mountains.

Author profile

Tom Keily

Tom Keily

Principal at Education Commission of the States |

As a principal, Tom works on topics relating to connections between education and workforce development, among other P-20 education policy topics. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, Tom taught middle school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Tom is dedicated to providing state policymakers with quality research that supports them in making a positive impact on students' lives.

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