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.

‘Strategic Doing’ Showcased at ETA Region 2 — Bravo Leo Miller!

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s Region 2 state leader’s meeting held Thursday March 12, 2015 in Philadelphia was an excellent example of reaching out for new approaches to deal with the complex challenges wrought be the advent of the new Workforce Innovational and Opportunity Act.

Instead of reviewing –ad nauseam – lagging employment indicators and performance measures in hopes of figuring out what state is (or rather was) failing in one arbitrary data dump or another where the presenters and offenders are equally uncomfortable, because the old info is about as relevant as a Ouija Board foretelling, Region 2, under the leadership of Leo Miller, chose rather, to chart new ground by presenting tools we just may be able to use.

Ed Morrison from Purdue explains Strategic Doing at a recent Region 2 Leadership Meeting
Ed Morrison from Purdue explains Strategic Doing at a recent Region 2 Leadership Meeting

Strategic doing – not strategic planning – is a methodology championed by Ed Morrison, of the Purdue Center for Regional Development. Mr. Morrison posited a simple premise – instead of a top driven strategic planning model eventually where groups of well-intentioned staff officers worry about task assignment and punishment-based metrics, the same well-intentioned staff officers work in a lateral environment where tasks are divvied up trusted partners and assignments are grounded in “framing questions.”

A lot of words – I know. I was attempting to sound erudite and official.

Let me put it this way. Strategic Doing requires a mind-shift. Instead of a strict mission analysis where we take a leader’s vision and implement a project based on that vision by discerning implied and specified tasks, we instead start with a question, which frames all follow on conversations.

For example, a recent vision statement from the U.S. Department of Labor says:

Excerpts from TEGL 19-15
Excerpts from TEGL 19-15

Suppose though, instead of that statement, which requires deep analysis, we gather experts we value and trust and ask this, “If we were to make a truly integrated employment system that was responsive to the needs of employers and job seekers, which projected needs into the future and also provided for the most vulnerable of us. What would that look like?”

That is significantly different than stuffing solutions in boxes based on checklists developed through task analysis and never tapping into the creativity many people have. There is a cultural intuition borne of experience, which can help guide organizations through turbulent times.

I am not eschewing deep analysis, rather I am suggesting Strategic Doing can widen the tool kit and produce a more thorough planning cycle once we frame issues as questions rather than over analyzing. There is a place for deep analysis it is widely important, but working with people one trusts and values to create a common vison might be a more powerful approach.

The Strategic Doing Mr. Morrison championed was not a “touchy feely” brocade-coat, with Donovan playing in the background, approach to planning or management. Rather the central foundation appears to be embracing 30-day increments of metric-based tasks needed to accomplish the group’s vision.

Mr. Morrison encouraged the groups to complete a “Big Easy” (aka low hanging fruit, an easy to complete high impact task) in the first 30 days of work to get some success under its belt. Follow on tasks are also broken into manageable 30, 60, 90 day increments as the group gets more experience using Strategic Doing. I’m not sure how much I embrace the Big Easy for fear of embracing too much low hanging fruit, there is a lot of high hanging fruit that has to be dealt with in the next 15 months, but maybe there is something to it all.

Even so, the fact that Mr. Miller tried something different to influence the planning discussion sets a wonderful tone for Region 2 as it moves toward WIOA implementation and planning, giving the state’s new tools with which to take on the daunting task of redesign.

To find to more about strategic doing go to http://bit.ly/1EjxAlu

This blog does not reflect any opinion of the Delaware Workforce Development Board or the Delaware Department of Labor. These are my thoughts written to stimulate conversation among workforce professionals.

Serendipity Rules: Vets Job Fair at Wilmington Unversity

outsidebannerAlmost as if it were more than coincidence, about 200 people packed the auditorium in the Wilmington University administration building Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 to participate the school’s “Operation Success” job fair sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce’s ongoing “Hiring Our Heroes” initiative — the same day Delaware Gov. Jack Markell’s gave his annual state-of-the-state address championing strong support of veterans employment (see http://wp.me/p55mkx-3k).

The job fair was like a who’s who of Delaware businesses.

Large, medium, and small companies and government agencies from Citibank, to Horizon Services, to Bayshore Ford, to Christiana Care, to DART were there for one thing – to lure the exceptional talent of returning military veterans to their organization.

These organizations were unanimous about one thing — military veterans – regardless of service branch – have all the skills in place to make organizations successful now and into the future.

“We truly and honestly believe veterans are an asset,” said Saira Mahmud an HR professional at Christiana Care. “They represent an elite group in our workforce.”

And while it may be an elite talent pool there are some challenges bringing the two groups together, said Bill Potter Deputy Director of the Delaware Workforce Investment Board (DWIB).

“With about one percent of our population serving in uniform there is sometimes a language problem creating a barrier between veterans and hiring officials,” he said. “It is sometimes difficult for the veteran job seeker to put his/her experiences into a format that is easily understandable in this highly competitive job market.”

Delaware DOL Pro Sherese Brewington-Carr helps a veteran with his resume. More than 200 people attended the HOH job fair Thursday January 22, 2015
Delaware DOL Pro Sherese Brewington-Carr helps a veteran with his resume. More than 200 people attended the HOH job fair Thursday January 22, 2015

To help veterans learn refine their skills in the new language, Goodwill Inc., The Delaware Department of Labor, The DWIB, and volunteers such as Nancy Sakaduski of Cat and Mouse Publishing who made the trek from Lewes, Del. to help, reviewed resumes throughout the morning

Many just needed some fine tuning while others needed major surgery.

“These veterans have so many skills, they are surely the labor pool of first resort,” Potter said. “Most of them just have to sit down and do a thorough audit of their accomplishments and link up with a good military skills translator.”

Miltary.com has a good one at http://mil-com.me/1BaVa6d as does O-Net at http://www.mynextmove.org/vets/.

Veterans in suits, business dresses, and business casual attire moved from table-to-table handing out resumes and conducting mini on-the spot interview.

While it is too soon to tally job offers, one business representative put it all in perspective.

“Great day,” she said. “Great talent pool and I got everything I needed.”

Darn You Colleen LaRose! You Forced Me To Think

These are my own thoughts and do not represent the policies or even discussions of the Delaware Workforce Investment Board, The Delaware Department of Labor, or the state of Delaware.

Good Morning All! Colleen LaRose’s recent column about Atlantic City http://linkd.in/151azJK really got me thinking. Not so much about, Atlantic City, NJ becoming the wedding capital of the East, but rather the employment and training issues related to the soon to be defunct Workforce Investment Act And the other sundry workforce development programs.

It’s a hard nut to crack.

According to Colleen, the federal government will ante up about $29 million for dislocated worker services after several casinos closed in Atlantic City. A recent article at Philly.com http://bit.ly/1CkegVM says it is a National Emergency Grant.

All good news.

But here is the thing. That presents more questions than answers – at least to me.

It wasn’t so long ago that workforce development agencies responded to the Great Recession by enthusiastically training dislocated workers to take advantage of employment opportunities in table gaming.

Mock casino in training schools popped up through the mid-Atlantic states presenting a cornucopia of programs for workers needing retraining – many from auto-plant closures. Chips clicked and die rolled in preparation for job interviews (aka auditions) — there is a metaphor in here I don’t have time to explore.

It was ubiquitous. Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania fought and sought to get in on the gaming train.

To be fair, people got jobs. The quality and type of jobs is left for another day to discuss. But people were able to keep the lights on and feed their babies – until the bottom began falling.

And now … The story is still unfolding; we don’t know yet.

What should we have done – the workforce developers like me?

Was there a labor market data point we missed? Was there a labor-shed lesson somewhere in the bushes that went uncovered? Were there economic forces invisible to us then that are visible now? Is the worst over and did we train people for jobs open yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

I don’t know what the answer(s) is/are ; I just know Colleen’s posting got me thinking and there a lot of questions still in the offing?

I hate thinking — It usually results in work!

New Start Has Third Graduation – More Ex-Offenders Getting Jobs

It used to be a high school.

Students would walk from class-to-class trying to find the clues that would help them be successful in life. Bells, hall passes, and minute supervision.

Five if Six New Start Graduates. From Left. Quincey Thomas, Larry Bass, Henry Lowman, Markeith Baynard, LaVare Brown. Jason Geiser not shown
Five of Six New Start Graduates. From Left: Quincey Thomas, Larry Bass, Henry Lowman, Markeith Baynard, LaVare Brown. Jason Geiser not shown

What was once Claymont High School is now the Claymont Community Center and the building’s highly polished colorful floor tiles still echo of education. The echo is louder than you might imagine.

There was a graduation Thursday morning at about 10 a.m. But this one was a tad different.

The students at this graduation had been moving for a different set of bells, permissions, and minute supervision.

They were ex-offenders turning their life around and were graduating from the New Start Program, run by Professional Staffing Associates, Inc.

This was the third set of graduates from New Start since its inaugural class, which began in 2013.

Seeing an opportunity to use her skills, honed in more than 30 years of workforce development training, Professional Staffing owner Priscilla Turgon saw this as an important next step. .

“This is a great opportunity to help these men and at the same time educate the community, about the importance of reintegrating these citizens,” Ms. Turgon said. “Our work with the Delaware Workforce Investment Board (DWIB) has made this all possible – great partners working for a great outcome.”

The six men who graduated from the program spent 11 weeks, 8 hours a day, developing knowledge and skills to facilitate employment success. Those skills include:

  • Financial Literacy
  • Professional Communications
  • Computer Basics
  • Customer service

Although the curriculum is impressive, so are the results. Most of the people graduating from New Start have found jobs and continue to work.

Workforce Pro Needs Help: Fretting Over Veterans

It’s killing me. All these vets and all these jobs. How can I get them together!!

Tick – tock.

Okay I posted a super fantastic post to Twitter

Tick – tock.

Where is my legion of followers? Doesn’t the world know that every utterance and grunt I dispense is profundity? I realize 140 characters is a challenge for your average man, but not me.

Tick – tock.

Still no followers. I wonder if there is something wrong with the Internet today. Hmmmm. Nope! My Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders link works fine; so does my movie starlet without makeup feed. Jeez. Could it be I am not the draw I think I am? Yech!


Oh! Hi. I didn’t see you walk in. You got a minute? I have a great idea, but somehow, it just isn’t working as well or as quickly as I’d like.

Here is the thing – I am worried about the recently separated first term soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen (I guess that’s what you call them). This group is known – to workforce geeks like me – collectively as Gulf War Era II veterans.

This group scares me.

These folks are perhaps the finest job candidates to come down the pike in a gagillion years and yet their unemployment rate is higher than any other group of veterans. No only that, they’re still coming and probably will for the next two years.

What a great boon for Delaware employers if they only knew how to access this multitalented group. It would rain money on the businesses hiring these great Americans.

But the problem is, “Where the heck are these veterans?”

I was thinking they were on Instagram and Twitter job searching from those platforms, so that’s where I am. You know—posting, and posting, and posting some more.

I’m hash-tagging as fast as I can type #dehiresvet and #netde, and #dejobs and not a nibble – not a follower, nothing, bupkus, zero. Nothing but blistered fingertips from all that typing.

What would you do?

I mean, Egypt launches a revolt, restaurateurs are hiding under their tables for fear of a single bad online review, and sports stars with nothing substantive to say are treated like sages. Meanwhile, I’m trying to connect veterans with services and employers and I’m the lone voice in the wilderness.

Wait! Oh that was nothing, just Kim and Kanye with their thoughts on cold fusion.

This is killing me.

My plan is a hashtag campaign focusing on #dehiresvets, which would bring together job seekers, Delaware DOL subject matter experts, and employers to a single place where they could get to know each other.

Who knows? Maybe set up a few workshops; get some resumes sparking; and maybe help employer’s cash in on the great talent bulge coming this way.

What do you think? How would you do it?