DWDB and DOL Start With Partners


p1070440The Delaware Department of Labor (DOL), with its partner the Delaware Workforce Development Board (DWDB), held a Strategic Planning Retreat Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 at the Delmarva Power Conference Center in Newark, Delaware. The crowd of more than 70 people, made up of DWDB board members, key partners across the breadth of state government, and non-governmental agencies worked on such weighty topics as identifying customer needs, a review of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)of 2014, and identifying strategic opportunities which could improve the state’s publicly funded workforce system to help employers and job seekers.

Delaware is doing the exact right thing bringing all these partners together, said Leo Miller, U.S DOL Regional Administrator.”

The planning retreat is part of a larger initiative by DOL and the DWDB to better develop the state’s workforce plan and take advantage of all the opportunities imbedded in the new law. The duo expects the new plan to be done by April 30, 2017.


Decision Time — Sort Of

Well here I am. After close to six months we are finally at a point of almost decision. Today the Delaware Workforce Development Board will have its executive committee meeting and during that meeting, go into executive session to discuss filling the Executive Director position.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a vested interest as I have been holding the position in an acting status since January since the previous executive director unexpectedly left and took a job at a workforce training outfit – good for her. And while I am appreciative of the opportunity, all good things must end.

This morning the executive committee will decide to either advertise my position in lieu of appointing me (as has been done for every executive director nominee) or send my nomination to the full board for a vote. So I guess we’ll see.

I was angry at first with all the hubbub because I am quite sure I am wonderful and suspected (maybe I still do) a ringer hanging in the wings. Oh well, we’ll see. Also this process was not the one described, I wish Doris Day was here to sing to me.

I think I’ve made peace with it all though., I’ve done all I can. I have been guiding the organization through troubled waters even though we are short-handed, dealt with a lot of high profile challenges, and provided good quality advice. I’ve also kicked some turds in the sunlight, that may or may not be a good thing, but when in charge, be in charge.

So I guess we’ll in the next few hours.

I’ll report back afterward.


The recent announcement by US secretary of Defense Ash Carter to open all military occupations to women signals another step backward for wage disparity and gender equality. This is not the good news for which women have been waiting. Rather, it is deliberate sleight of hand to eviscerate veteran benefits, keep military wages low, and provide budget relief to a cash strapped pentagon.
Like any other snow job, it doesn’t sound that way at first glance – it is the second and third glances that should keep soldiers and potential soldiers of both genders marching the floors at night.
For the past few years the president and congress have been reviewing military pay, veterans benefits, and retiree plans. Each of these reviews have one thing in common – spending less money on military members.

You can dress it all up anyway you choose, but in the end it is about controlling costs while maintaining personnel numbers.
That’s why the Sec. Ash’s announcement is both brilliant and diabolical.
It goes like this.
• The greatest resistance to pay changes comes from the people thinking eviscerating wages and benefits will drive recruiting, retention, and readiness down.
• Women have been lobbying for inclusion in combat skills for decades (probably with good arguments).
• Opening all combat skills to the entire population more than doubles the number of potential recruits for combat skills.
• The readiness argument will be destroyed as there will be no drop in filling combat slots.
• Women will join combat skills at a high rate and thus ameliorate the need for better military compensation.
• Simply there will be an abundance of potential workers in combat skills keeping wages artificially low.

The great irony is of course that introducing women into combat units is supposed to level the playing field in career opportunity. Unfortunately, the only thing it will probably do, is ensure an upside-down pay equity as everyone earns less in direct compensation and benefits.

I Didn’t Get the Big Job — So Upset Day Three

I am so filled with disappointment; I’m not quite sure why I can’t let go. I know I should be happy to be alive as I am a three year Lymphoma survivor, but I am engulfed.

For months I was planning, dreaming, and visualizing being promoted to director of Delaware’s Division of Employment and Training (DET). I had good reason to think I was next in line; I thought the skids were greased.

I had my first meeting speech planned out, the agenda, which would highlight administrator responsibilities; I even had worked on a senior staff training plan, including white papers, decision matrices, and other staff products used by professional staffs. I knew exactly how I was going to upgrade the skills of all the workers, improve staff functions, and drive down the rate at which DET workers leave the organization. .

I had it. I had it all done. I had a clear vision how to make the organization better, workers happier, and improve services.

And then yesterday reality struck.

My dream job was awarded to someone else. Admittedly this woman will do an excellent job, but all indications were I was heir apparent.

To ready myself, I did the extra jobs. I went to night school. I took on additional responsibilities; volunteered for things far outside my comfort zone, such as social media, webinars, employer conferences, and a quality seminar. Along the way there was that carrot dangled, “C’mon a little bit further and you’ll be director material. I’m counting on you.”

All for nothing. Nothing. I’m disgusted; I probably won’t sleep tonight either.

And now I’m empty, except for the gnawing disappointment. Every time I think of it my throat constricts, breathing gets rapid, and my face turns read from embarrassment because I’m the fool. I can hear the whispers, “Bill Potter. What an idiot. We told him he would never get ahead here. He has the wrong social security number. Didn’t he understand? What a fool. He’s not one of them.”

Even as I write this down, it all seems so self-serving. And I am not that guy. Perhaps I should be. Aren’t I authorized a little pride, hope, and aspiration? Shouldn’t there be some payoff or recognition for putting the in the extra time when others seem to be standing on the sideline waiting for something to happen. Am I not deserving?

My heart is broken.

I’ve tried so hard only to come up so empty handed.

I’m not sure I can look at those people, all knowing what a fool I’ve been.

WIOA Planning — It Makes My head Ache

My frustration is incredibly high with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act .

I was once told you can fit an elephant through a keyhole if you use a big enough shoehorn. While that may be true, but when it is all over either the door or the elephant are gonna get mangled.

And to my mind, that’s kind of where we are with this thing. And it’s not because anyone is overly incompetent, or lazy. It’s just that the design of the WIOA implementation is poorly constructed.

You see, from a planning perspective the U.S. Department of Labor has mish-mashed sequential tasks and concurrent tasks and violated the 1/3 2/3 rule along the way.

Here’s what I mean.

For Vocational Rehabilitation the new law was executable on receipt – that was last summer. Meanwhile Employment and Training had one year before implementation to figure it out – kind of. Meanwhile the regulations covering the law – which goes into full effect 1 July 2015 – are still pending review and finalization.

So here we are, states are putting together new boards, structures, and relationships based on a regulation that may or may not be adopted, in whole or in part, thus making the alignment the law is was supposed facilitate, already disjointed and unity of effort is out the window.

That’s not the worst of it – at least to my mind.

An important concept in planning is, as I said, the one-third/two third rule. Simply stated a higher headquarters only takes one third of the time available to develop a plan, and gives subordinate headquarters two-thirds of the time. This ensure higher headquarters don’t monopolize all the time.

Sound good? It works great, but apparently this technique hasn’t reached the upper echelons of US DOL and it’s driving me crazy.

Here’s why. The big state plan is due to US DOL on 1 March 2016. If you count back that would 19 months from the time the law was signed to the month it is due. One-third of that time would mean all planning guidance from US DOL should have been delivered by last December. Unfortunately, we are rolling into July and still no guidance. If US DOL released guidance today, the feds would have gobbled up two thirds of the time available. Shame on them.

The states are in unenviable position of using guidance from two years ago to make their best guess about requirements. But here is the kicker – once you backward plan the approval times and public comment periods the states should really have their plans completed no later than December 1st. And let’s face it once you get to Halloween, time seems to speed up through Thanksgiving and Christmas. If it’s not done by November, you’re a dead duck.

What a mess.

If One More Person Tells Me Their Resume I’ll Scream

When I hear these words, or any combination of them I want to get up, go to the nearest window and jump out.

This words are “I have been doing this for _________!” Oh God it aches to hear them.

I am in the middle of writing the new state workforce development plan and part of that process is trying to get people to explain what it is they currently do. I have to ask questions – some of them hard questions and invariably the chest thumping begins.

The other one I love is “I forgotten more than you’ll ever know!” Since I am a pretty smart guy I guess that means the person in front of me is a blithering idiot and was once an intellectual heavy weight.

Sorry he forgot so much – that a shame.

My response to this way of putting me in my place is to say, “Well, I guess I’m just a moron, but you’ll have to bear with me for the moment.”

Here’s the thing, I have been doing stuff for a long time too and I can’t count the number of times I thought I knew something and went back to check and discovered I was wrong.

Just a rant!

Liberal Arts Educations Are Wicked Important.

There is a move afoot – it seems – by many in the workforce world to downgrade the value of a liberal arts college education in favor of a certificate or credential that leads to employment. The argument goes something like this, “Why be weighed down with debt by earning a degree that doesn’t translate immediately into a job, when learning a skill with real world application is less expensive and employment is immediate.”

It is one of those arguments that on the surface makes sense, but I don’t buy it and it seems to ignore some important data.

As recently as 2014 US News and World Report reported that liberal arts degree job prospects had improved and that these degree holders were the preferred management candidates due to their vast problem solving skills. See that story at http://bit.ly/1AV54LP.

There is little doubt that STEM degree (those in science, technology, engineering and math) are important and provide our nation with the hard skills we need in the global marketplace, there is also no doubt for example, that America’s dominance in the multi-billion dollar arts and entertainment industry requires the non-STEM degree holders.

It’s a balance and yet there is a throw out the baby with the bathwater attitude toward it all. Let’s eschew literature, music, history, philosophy, and art in favor of engineering many say because they can’t see the cause and effect between arts and $$$$. It’s all quite sad.

I once attended a US Army school called Personnel Management for Executives. In one of the segments, management consultant Harvey J. Coleman postulated that those in strict technical disciplines could only rise so high in any large organization because they tend to be less rounded and those with better communication and general skills tended to rise higher because of their breadth of education. I think it is like that for STEM folks versus liberal arts folks.

It is the generalist – I think – that sees the world for all its complexities and is able to leverage resources to solve complex problems.

I am avoiding a big discussion about art for art’s sake, because it would diffuse my point about the value of liberal arts in the workplace.

I guess that’s it for now.