This Q&A Digest has been derived from the Ask Us Anything session on “Labor Policy Reform for a Cohesive Workforce Development Sector” held on May 19, 2021, with Chike Aguh, chief innovation officer for the U.S. Department of Labor, Maria Flynn, president and chief executive officer at the nonprofit Jobs for the Future (JFF); Larry Good, president and CEO of the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce; and Earl Buford, president and CEO at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.
The Atlanta Fed’s Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity offers a number of data tools and publications to help you track unemployment, reemployment, and other potential policy and practice suggestions while you manage recovery from the pandemic.
Federal Reserve Bank
Opportunity Occupations Monitor tracks trends in jobs that offer salaries of at least the U.S. annual median wage (adjusted for local cost of living differences) for which employers do not require a bachelor's degree—opportunity occupations—in states and metro areas.
Rework Community Insights Monitor offers information on jobs and training at the local level.
Workforce Currents includes articles on various workforce topics addressing research, policy, and practice.
Exploring a Skills-Based Approach to Occupational Mobility from the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland examines how transferable skills could pave the way for lower-wage workers to move up to higher-paying positions and help meet talent needs of employers.
Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity Events describes upcoming events and includes registration links for Ask Us Anything webinar sessions.
Resources from our Panelists:
Modernizing and Investing in Workforce Development
The Indispensable Institution Reimagining Community College, a report from Opportunity America.
New Research from CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) and WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education) on Prior Learning Assessment and Adult Student OutcomesThe PLA (Prior Learning Assessment) Boost
Aligning Education and Workforce to Meet Learners Needs, an interview with Earl Buford
Chike Aguh, Chief Innovation Officer, U.S. Department of Labor
Aguh leads efforts on innovative technologies, partnerships, and practices to accelerate the Department’s mission to deliver a future of work that includes and dignifies every American. Previously, Aguh was head of economic mobility pathways at the nonprofit Education Design Lab, where he launched the Community College Growth Engine Fund, a multimillion-dollar effort turning community colleges into bridges to careers in high-growth fields. He has been a technology and human rights fellow at the Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, which focuses on the future of work and racial equity; a venture partner at New Markets Venture Partners concentrating on workforce technologies; and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Future of Work Taskforce. Aguh has worked in education policy for the New York City school system, as a Fulbright Scholar in Thailand researching education and skills, and as director of corporate strategy and performance technologies at the Education Advisory Board.
Earl Buford, President and Chief Executive Officer, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning
Buford is a leader in managing public and private funds to deliver innovative solutions that meet the needs of businesses and job seekers. He served as chief executive officer of Partner4Work, the organization that leads the public workforce system for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Buford also was CEO of Employ Milwaukee, where he was nationally recognized for the implementation and integration of a sector-based approach to workforce development. Employ Milwaukee provided employer engagement through industry advisory boards. Buford advocated for the creation of Midwest Urban Strategies, a consortium of workforce boards that shares best practices. Appointed in 2014 to serve on the federal Advisory Taskforce on Workforce Development, Buford is active with several national organizations including the board of directors for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and advisory boards of the Council of State Governments, National Network of Sector Partners, and National Skills Coalition.
Larry Good, President and Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce
Good is a leader in designing and implementing transformative workforce development change strategies that produce scalable results. He is currently coleading an initiative to develop a competency-based Credentials Framework that connects the dots among degrees, certificates, industry certifications and other credentials. He led a major project assisting the state of Michigan in developing and implementing a rethinking of state workforce policy, initiatives, and structure, including the landmark No Worker Left Behind initiative. His work focuses on reinventing public policies and practices for adult learning, including creating market-relevant credentials, integrating basic skills development with career pathways, and developing sector strategies at a state and regional level to engage employer groups in developing shared workforce solutions. He cofounded Corporation for a Skilled Workforce in 1991.
Maria Flynn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Jobs for the Future (JFF)
Flynn’s commitment to JFF’s vision of economic advancement for all has made her a national authority on the future of work, the role of technology in the labor market, career pathways for underserved individuals, and employer engagement. In 2018, she launched JFFLabs to bridge the traditional education and workforce systems with innovative approaches and technology-enabled solutions. Before becoming CEO in 2016, Flynn was JFF’s senior vice president and led the Building Economic Opportunity Group, helping entry level workers advance to family-supporting careers while enabling employers to build and sustain a productive workforce. She also led JFF’s federal policy and advocacy strategies, which focus on advancing the educational needs of underserved Americans and developing a skilled workforce. Previously, Flynn was a member of the Senior Executive Service in the U.S. Department of Labor, where she held several high-level positions involving employment, training, and research.
Oftentimes, workers are left out of conversations about workforce development and workforce policy. How can policymakers lift worker voices and worker power when tackling workforce policy reform?
When policymakers and practitioners fail to incorporate and honor the voices of workers within a program design, the program often yields less than satisfactory results. By incorporating these voices, policymakers can ensure that programs are designed to truly meet the needs of workers so that our economy can grow for everyone. In the past, including worker voices was handled as a check box within a piece of legislation rather than as an integral part of the policy design process. Using intentional language in legislation is important for pushing out these practices.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is approaching reauthorization. What recommendations should be considered in reauthorization to better support the workers this legislation aims to serve?
As WIOA approaches reauthorization, assessing its track record for serving workers is crucial to its success. WIOA offers the potential for lawmakers to work together to expand the economy by providing support to workers and other labor market stakeholders. One strategy is to include workers throughout the process, to understand their needs, and create programs that reflect them. This approach could set a balance between federal and state guidance that is clear but allows flexibility at the local level. Local flexibility accounts for the different needs of workers in different markets.
Collaboration with other members of the labor market universe including unions and employers could also create a helpful starting point. Including sector-wide strategies clarifies options for workers who are looking to join an industry and creates a standard practice that can be accepted through many markets. Another example that could minimize confusion and expand funding opportunities would be to update the Eligible Training Provider List (ETPL), which may not reflect a complete list of options for workers to earn credentials and move forward.
Remote work is one of many changes that have come from the pandemic. How can remote work impact economic mobility for workers? Does remote work increase access to jobs that were previously unavailable to certain populations?
Remote working and technology have a democratizing effect on career mobility; however, it is important to recognize that not all people and not all jobs have the ability to work remotely. An article by Stuart Andreason analyzes the differences between workers who are able to work remotely from those who cannot. The analysis notes that the group of workers who were able to work from home most often were workers with a bachelor’s degree.
However, remote work could open the possibility to desaturate markets previously concentrated in specific industries, specifically technology. While the tech industry has been known for remote work before the pandemic, the ability to hire, onboard, and train workers without bringing them into an office has expanded job opportunities to workers located outside a company’s geographic footprint. There are positive implications for rural workers if this trend continues. Investment in broadband infrastructure to create fast and affordable internet would help. The same investment could also bring internet options to neighborhoods within cities that do not have high-speed service.
The pandemic exposed a need for reliable remote options to deliver government services including unemployment insurance and other social safety net programs. Technology can improve access to jobs and services throughout the country.
Financing is critical to successful workforce development. What are instances in which public, private, and philanthropic funds were used together successfully?
Collaboration is the key to a successful system. Collaborative solutions for financing workforce development are important to close the gap between the skills employers need and better economic mobility for workers. Cooperative solutions also distribute the risk between employers, workers, training providers, and government entities.
Income share agreements (ISA) are one method that expands access to education for low-wage workers by drawing from different funds to help people earn new credentials. In 2019, the Workforce Income Share Agreement Fund was launched with $3.3 million in San Diego and has already seen two classes graduate. Participants in the San Diego program note that, unlike traditional student loans, the ISA provides strong support for reemployment or securing a job at a higher pay rate and is therefore less risky. Career Impact Bonds are ISAs that help connect students to training and capital from impact investors. While there are no upfront costs to students, they repay the Career Impact Bond as a fixed portion of their income after being placed in a job with a livable wage.
Lifelong Learning and Training Accounts (or Lifelong Learning Accounts) are savings accounts that are jointly funded by workers, employers, government associations, or philanthropies. The accounts are specifically used for education. One of the features of LLTAs is a limit on the balance, which is intended to encourage workers to regularly use the funds to pursue training and improve their career mobility.
The Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity is working with two groups of partners to explore and implement best practices in workforce financing. The Talent Finance Initiative with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is developing new methods for the private sector to finance talent development. Workforce Realigned, with Social Finance, is highlighting successful partnerships that use results-based models of funding and risk sharing. A recently released book through Workforce Realigned highlights many examples of innovative financing options.
The workforce development field lacks a professional development structure that other critical industries have. What career development and learning should we strive for as workforce professionals?
Workforce development is an interesting field, one that very few people seek out for a career. In some ways, the lack of job candidates helps the industry as those who are in the profession bring their unique perspective. On the other hand, the field is rarely presented as a career option despite the work done to help students and job seekers. A healthy pipeline of workers is important in every industry. Exposing students to the workforce development field rather than having workers stumble into it throughout their career can help recruit new talent.
Establishing a pipeline of workers is only one of the ways to improve development of the workforce development talent pool. Consistent professional development for job seeker-facing organizations, state workforce administrators, and employer partners will help keep ideas fresh and promote collaboration.
Occupational segregation suppresses earnings in sectors with high concentrations of women or people of color, particularly Black workers. What can worker-serving organizations do to break down silos and help women and people of color move into higher paying sectors?
Occupational segregation plays a major role in wage discrimination. Providing options that are outside traditional pathways for workers’ demographic groups and offering other support these workers need will help minimize the impact of occupational segregation. Workers within these demographic groups face more challenges to success because of historical systemic practices. For women and BIPOC (Black Indigenous, and people of color) communities to be successful, worker-serving organizations should reject stereotypes.
Skills-based hiring can also help workers break into new industries. It focuses on workers’ experience rather than credentials. Many jobs have overlap between necessary skills; in fact, a recent paper through the Rework America Alliance found that 70 percent of job transitions to higher paying jobs hinge on these overlapping skills.
Historically, when an industry has a high percentage of women workers or workers of color, the overall rate of pay is lower. Worker-serving organizations should also listen and advocate on behalf of marginalized groups. By lifting up these concerns and barriers, policymakers can work to redesign the system to provide support to each group and help them achieve economic mobility and career freedom.
The pandemic has shown that many market sectors overlap at higher rates than previously thought—particularly logistics and health care. What thought is being put into next-generation industry groups?
As the economy shifts to new industries as a result of the pandemic, automation risk, or other factors, considering how sectors overlap can help workers move into new jobs that improve their mobility. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Tennessee Talent Exchange was created to reemploy workers in high-demand sectors from industries most affected by business restrictions. The program focused on hiring displaced workers from the hospitality sector into logistics and grocery jobs.
The Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity is also looking into how job seekers can move between industries. A recent Workforce Currents examined pathways between hospitality positions to jobs in the healthcare sector. Another resource to help workers transition into new sectors is the Rework Community Insights Monitor that provides information on jobs in demand within a metro area and the training available for workers to secure them.
Sarah Miller: Welcome everyone. Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Sarah Miller, senior adviser with the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity here at the Atlanta Fed. I want to welcome you to our second installment of 2021 of our Ask Us Anything, series. You're joining us today with quite a powerful panel that we're very excited to listen to their brilliant minds discuss what we want to see from labor reform and workforce development policy going forward.
Welcome to Chike Aguh; Earl Buford, Maria Flynn, and Larry Good are joining us today. The work that we're talking about today came out of what's called the BETS Task Force, the Better Employment and Training Strategies Task Force. It's the task force of research practitioners convened by Larry Good and with partnership with Maria and Earl as well. They're going to talk about the coauthored piece from Earl and Larry around modernizing and investing in workforce development. The brief is online. We will share a link in the chat for you all to take a look at. But the brief is very comprehensive; it lays out a lot of thoughts around a more cohesive workforce development sector and includes a lot of recommendations, many of which we'll get into today.
Our prior session, back in March if you were able to join us and a quick update if you were not, was also born out of the BETS Task Force, and it was focused on infrastructure jobs. We were joined then by folks from the Heldrich Center, from New America, from CLASP and from AFL-CIO, where they talked a lot about what an infrastructure jobs program would mean for low-income workers, for enhancing career mobility and particularly as it pertains to youth employment. We have a quick recap video that we're going to show here for you. I'm going to stop my share of my screen and have my colleague Katherine share a quick video—it's about a two-minute recap. We'll also share with you as well a list of where all the sessions live so that you can watch the full recording and get the full digest.
Mary Alice McCarthy: An equitable recovery starts with jobs and making sure that Americans have access to good jobs. An equitable recovery is making job generating investments and also investments in the systems that allow people to connect to those good jobs and keep those good jobs.
Kisha Bird: An equitable recovery must include youth and young adults. It must include them in terms of population and the communities in which they live. An equitable recovery means we need to scale up what works, from pre-apprenticeship to apprenticeship, to subsidized jobs and partnerships in community with the community colleges and workforce development systems and community-based organizations and intermediaries.
Brad Markell: We can make the United States a more modern place, a climate safe place, a clean energy place, a place with manufacturing, a place with healthcare. All of that is part of an equitable recovery. And we have to start by investing in places and people and creating opportunity.
Carl Van Horn: We've learned in the past that our infrastructure programs, while needed, didn't achieve all we'd hope they would do. And that means this time, we need to take a broad view about what infrastructure is that includes not just bricks and mortars but also communities and people that have been hurt by the pandemic. We need to make sure that they are able to recover by getting a good job and also building a career for the future, so that we connect education and training apprenticeship opportunities … to a middle-class and better job for themselves and for their families. But we need to make sure that the investments that we make reach every corner of this country, in cities, in counties, in rural areas and all, because, all of those parts of this country have been significantly hurt by this recession amid this pandemic.
Miller: Thanks for sharing that video, Katherine. We apologize for the low audio levels on that. Katherine shared the full YouTube clip there, as well as the full session for you to take a look at. So feel free to, at your leisure, take a look at that and get that full download. What I want to do now is turn over to our full panel here today. You'll get some upfront briefing from Earl Buford, CEO of CAEL, and Larry Good, CEO of Corporation for a Skilled Workforce. And they will be joined on a panel with Maria Flynn, CEO of JFF, and Chike Aguh, the chief innovation officer for the Department of Labor.
As a quick note, we want to take as many questions as we can from you this afternoon. We likely will not be able to get to all of the questions that you submit, but we will follow up with a post-session readout of this conversation, which I know will be full of great insights and suggestions as we move forward into recovery. Please do utilize the Q&A box at the bottom of your screen to submit your questions. And if we get to them today, we'll still include those in that readout as well. So with that, I'm going to turn it over to my esteemed BETS colleagues, Larry Good and Earl Buford.
Larry Good: And I'll get us started and welcome everybody to it. Earl and I had the privilege to co-chair a work group of really amazing people, and Sarah was part of that. Maria and her colleagues at JFF were part of it and a long list that you can find in the report across a whole range of history and organizations across many years. We came together in part to really look at the question of: what should workforce policy be as we are in a different time, a different century, a different economy, a different set of conditions? And that was [inaudible] between, before the pandemic but accelerated and accentuated by then.
So what we'd like to do at the outset is, I want to lay out a basic frame-out and Earl will go deeper on a couple of those points. We'll then turn to Chike and Maria both to add their perspectives on these same issues as it's playing out. And this is all around the thread of, what should we be doing in the U.S. to modernize and adequately finance workforce development as we move forward? I would say there's an amazing range of consensus across a lot of organizations that significant change is needed. And hopefully you'll hear that in the next few minutes. Part of this is that we're in an era when we really need to be thinking about work and learning across entire careers. We've thought about workforce development, job training, and passive iterations as emergency responses. Responding to a plant closing, responding to economic distress that families are feeling, responding to a particular economic crisis that might be going on. And good programs to do limited things were set up.
What we realize today is these issues affect everybody and that what we really need to be looking at is an ecosystem that has lifelong learning. And that we need to think about what's the supports and infrastructure for all of that because we're all going to be learning across our lives. We're going to be working, we're going to be combining the two. And the challenges [that] needs to cause that aren't going to disappear. Automation is going to continue to be significant and changing the nature of jobs. We are facing a continuing issue of people who are stuck in low-income jobs and have challenges with economic mobility that we've not been successful at really moving. And we're going to face them, continue to face continuous change. By one estimate, 50 percent of all workers are going to need new skills to avoid long-term unemployment.
The other reality that we lay out in the paper is that the U.S. underfunds workforce development significantly and always has across different generations of iterations. So when you compare us to other countries, we are very low on the list of proportion of investment and of the federal spending. And in today's federal budget, by some estimates, there's about $16 billion a year for workforce development. We argued in the paper that ought to be more like $80 [billion] to $90 billion a year. Some of the initial proposals from the administration for things to move the economy now are at that scale. So as we talk about the ideas ahead, there's a real issue of funding the things needed at adequate scale, to not just handle a small portion of the need but to really provide services that can meet the needs. There are a series of elements we talk about in the paper. I'm only going to talk for a second about a few of them that are there, and you can read it in more depth, and my colleagues will talk about some of these in more depth.
But some of these are things that are not really done consistently, or they're done for limited numbers of people right now with the [inaudible] through public workforce funding. One of them is high quality career navigation. Labor markets are hard to navigate, and they're probably going to get even harder coming out of the pandemic. And as people think about the transitions going on, there's certainly a lot of people who are going to be changing careers often involuntarily. But even in some cases because they realize they want to and need to. We don't really provide in any consistent way good advising support to people backed up by good technology tools on it. You can go to Google and search a zillion things and not necessarily come up with anything very relevant. And when you go into, whether it's the American Job Centers or go to a community college or high school or a library, you may find help; you may not. It may only be for people that meet certain eligibility tests, and often the people doing it are overloaded and overwhelmed with other work.
We think that it's really important to expand the investment in that as a really deliberately delivered service. And I think there's a lot of consensus around that. I'm looking at Maria at JFF—that was a major thread that they are arguing, for example, and we're certainly with them on that. Second one is that we've always treated support services and related matters about life coaching and getting past barriers, as an add-on, off in the corner. If you can afford to do it in a program, great; if you can't, it'll somehow magically happen. It doesn't somehow magically happen, and those supports are crucial. And we need to really look at how to build them in, because we know there's a lot that can be done to both help people get through training and help people stay and work and grow and work. And we need to be building that even further.
The paper argues that to look at things like comprehensive initiatives like trade adjustment assistance, how you could turn that into universal adjustment assistance. So it wouldn't be dependent on whether a plant has closed because of foreign competition, but as people are dislocated, can they get a comprehensive array of supports and services to be able to make that transition well? And that's one piece of arguing that we need to develop models for financial support for lifelong learning. The other one I would just name quickly is modularized credentials. That we're at a point where there are lots and lots of nondegree credentials being offered. And, they're not very coherent, they don't link to each other very well. They can, and there's a lot of good work beginning to look at how to do that, but degrees are important, but they're not enough. We need to really be looking at how people can get understandable credit for what they know and can do and be able to use that as an asset as they're in the labor market.
My last point, then I will turn to Earl, is that as we do all of this work, it's crucial that we look at rethinking workforce development through a racial equity lens. We know that what's happened in the prior decade is that true to nature the economy worsened, and those who did not succeed in it were disproportionately people of color. We need to challenge our assumptions about what we do and what we don't do to think about what's contributed to that and what can change. We also need to think about different mental models. As one colleague has made the note, we need to be careful about doing blanket phrases like low skill, low income. Those are not equal terms. Low income doesn't mean you have low skills, and we need to really talk about those aggregating issues and do culturally responsive things in our workforce development strategy. There's a lot ahead. So Earl, let me turn to you to talk about some of the activities needed to move all this.
Earl Buford: Thanks. And first of all, good afternoon everyone, I'm so proud to be a part of this esteemed panel. Really proud to be a part of the BETS group and, with my partner Larry Good and I, making possible to put this together. I think that, for me, there's a couple of easy points. One, federal investment is, if you read about it, has expanded substantially; we know that. We also know that the U.S. needs to build and sustain an ecosystem that supports lifelong learning for mobility for all Americans. So the beauty of this piece we put together really are the recommendations. And so, I want to just touch on those five recommendations that came out of the paper. You can read more in depth, and we'll answer some of those, but I just want to touch on what those are.
First recommendation is build needed support for lifelong iterations of working and learning. That's really a broad look at the financial aid system and how, to Larry’s bullet point about looking at the different skill levels and how to move that forward. Second is increasing funding for workforce development through a coinvestment model. Meaning, I like to say that we talk about developing provincial lane and pathways for workers, but never talk about, what are the path on pathways? What blended funding models are needed for each step along the way? And I don't think we've coined a phrase for that yet, but I'm going to call it a path to pathways, for lack of a better term at this moment.
The third point is shift the paradigm from short-term transactions to long-term investments. Really, by taking that path to pathways model to the next step. I apologize for my length here. Fourth is challenge and support community collaboratives to deliver better results. And there've been lots of job creating initiatives. I've run some, my colleagues have run others and [inaudible] widely successful. We always haven’t done a really good job of telling the story, showing the proof and things of that nature. So there needs to be more investment flexibility in how that happens with this workforce board level, state board level, now as national intermediaries working together to really put a platform that tells us a story and validates the current investment.
And lastly, invest in research and development. Continuous learning, the technology within the workforce from an ecosystem, that I referenced earlier. So the theme here is, upskilling is important, but where are the resources to support that? And where's the flexibility and the innovation to allow us to do that at a high level? So with that, I just want to touch base on the high points of the paper, and my colleagues and I will dive deeper into that in a few minutes. Thank you.
Good: So Earl, a quick question for you following up on what you just said. During the time we were working on this, you moved from being a local workforce director in Pittsburgh to being the president of CAEL, an organization extremely well known in education circles on a whole range of innovation fronts. As we think about this policy world going forward, how do you see the connections between workforce strategy and education strategy needing to play out?
Buford: Well, I think it's critical right now for employers and institutions of higher education to start working closely together. [inaudible] statement. But, by having the right resources and opportunities, we can begin building a greater network to meet the needs of those employers and learners. And it's often two ships pass in the night; workforce systems that are doing this, employers who are saying they can't find people, and higher ed is doing a great job of putting learners in place, but the three are not coming together. So if nothing else comes out of today's conversation, the three of us all come together, you start to move through that.
And my good colleagues at JFF are working hard on that and CAEL is in that space as well. So I think we're all smart people and I think we come with some good ideas, but we have to get to the same room and start talking the same language and develop some real articulations. That—if I talk to another college president who says, "I need ways to get my graduates, my seniors prepared for high-growth industries and can walk into those jobs."—that is the end game that we're working on here. And what are the tools needed to make that happen?
Good: Great. Chike, you've moved into a new role at the Department of Labor as the chief innovation officer. Talk about these issues from your perspective.
Chike Aguh: Sure. And just thank you so much to the Atlanta Fed, the Center for Workforce and Economic Opportunity, all my esteemed panelists for just being with me today. And these are many folks I followed from afar, so it's really great to have a conversation with all of you. Let me talk at a high level about how the administration, I think, has been thinking about this. And let me really zero in on the American Jobs Plan which President Biden proposed. And one of the key realizations of the American Jobs Plan is to make infrastructure possible, physical infrastructure possible, you have to invest in human infrastructure, which is primarily the worker.
And so, I'll give some topline numbers or speak to some of the federal funding need that is required, but President Biden has called for $40 billion to be invested in dislocated workers. And frankly, a more universal way like Larry has proposed, $12 billion investment in workforce training particularly for underserved communities to get to the racial equity lens that both Earl and Larry have talked about. And then another $48 billion in additional human capital investments, everything from STEM talent to registered apprenticeships. But again, probably some of the largest single investments in workforce development that we are seeing. As we think about that, I think we know that money is necessary but insufficient. So as we think about the application of those funds, what are some things to really keep in mind?
And Larry, one of those is, first, we cannot simply focus on funding training, we must focus on training people and getting them into jobs. That is critical. My secretary counterpart at Commerce, then governor and now, Secretary Gina Raimondo talked about the old train and pray approach. Meaning that I train you and I pray that there's a job at the end. Those days have to be over because right now, we're still down about eight million jobs compared to last year. Each one of those jobs, each of those people represents a person, a family who is in dire economic straits, and we have to be focused on actually getting into work, not simply training. That's necessary but insufficient.
Secondly, we need to make sure that we're not just getting people into a job right now, but into the beginning of a career. And so, that requires us to think really, really holistically about, again, what are the skills that we're giving, not simply the technical skills to be successful today, but the digital skills? But—I hate to use the term soft skills, [inaudible] will call them human set skills. But those things that we know are critical to be successful that are harder to measure, harder to count, although we're getting better at that.
Next, making sure that we are creating a workforce that looks like America. That is critical. It's why that $12 billion investment in underserved communities is really, really important. Not simply because we need to live out our equity commitments as a country, but literally as someone who used to do workforce development, who used to work in industry, the amount of technical roles that I've heard CEOs say, "I cannot fill,”—it still persists to this day. It is the economically smart thing to do and the morally right thing to do. To make sure that we are creating those pipelines to get Americans from every part of our country, from every community, from every place of birth into the jobs of today and really tomorrow.
Next, as we spend this money, how are we using technology one, to ... as someone who used to work in technology, frankly, a centered experience that is good for the customer, meaning the customer is the worker. How do we make sure that we are creating the easiest experience possible? Earl, you talked about the disconnect between the terms higher education and workforce. Those are silos that, frankly, those of us in this space created to make our lives easier; that actually does not make the life of a worker easier. And so, how do we actually think about what makes life for the worker best? And we need to reorganize ourselves. And again, are we going to get rid of universities or consumer agencies tomorrow? No, but we need to create the collaborations between those institutions as quickly as humanly possible to make sure that the worker doesn't have to, frankly, figure it all out by themselves.
Similarly, we need to be investing in technology to make sure that we're actually delivering outcomes. Again, placing people in jobs, creating wage gains, making sure we're putting people on tracks to career. And to be honest, if we are honest, no one can really answer that question at scale. No one can really answer that question on a scale of how are we doing from a point of view. You find pockets of excellence in certain programs, certain states, certain localities, but at scale in this country, we cannot say, when a worker is dislocated, it's when they go through a program. So when they end up hopefully back in work, what happened? Where did we fall off? And then, that's a mix of data, technology as well as frankly, which is the last piece, collaboration.
And so, you'll hear President Biden talk a lot about what he calls the whole of government approach. And he talks about this a lot in terms of responding to COVID. And I'll tell you, in terms of the economic challenge, we're very much aligned around that, around government, not just my colleagues at the Department of Labor [but] our counterparts at Department of Commerce, our counterparts at Department of Education, counterparts at the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation. But I would go a step further, which is to really handle this challenge, and the challenge of how do we create an economic future for every worker and every family in this country? It requires something bigger, which is a whole of society approach. Meaning, how does every level of government and every part of the private sector and every part of the social sector come together to make this happen?
And again, let me just name one thing, as someone who used to be in the industry. If we are going to train people for jobs, we need to make sure that employers are hiring in a way where they can recognize those workers’ skills, no matter the form factor that they come in. When I used to do work in higher education, we at times would remark that things don't move as fast as we would like. I'll be frank, as someone who's worked with HR with CHRS across the country, corporate HR doesn't move as fast either. And we've got to figure out from the employer point of view, again, what are you doing so that when people show up with the skills, you can recognize those skills and put them in the jobs that they can do. One, because it's the right thing to do, and secondly, it's good for you. Because, you all know the cost of having a job open.
So that's just one example of this whole of society approach. We all have something to do. And every now and again, we focus only on the worker and what they're lacking. The question is how do we focus on the rest of the ecosystem and on what all of us need to do, so, and again, we can be successful for that worker, for their family and really, for all of us. Larry, I probably said too much, and I'll throw it back to you.
Good: You said a great deal of really important things, and I was resonating strongly when you talked about the whole of government approach. One of the things we assert in the paper is that every federal department has a workforce development component within it somewhere. It is that pervasive kind of an issue. And so, really, bringing that all together for an integrated overall federal strategy is, I think, what you're saying is an important charge. A quick question for you. One topic to just follow up on. As we look at it, not just being about the workers and their skills, one of the things that's been well-publicized in recent months during the pandemic are the number of jobs that would not pass the job quality test. People are being asked to work for wages, or we've got the structure of it's set up to not be family or self-sustaining. Where does that fit into this picture, working on that issue for you?
Aguh: Sure. I mean, this is an issue that is not just important to me but the entire administration. How do we make sure that we are creating quality jobs? And quality defined from a couple of different metrics. One obviously, wages, and President Biden has been very clear about where he stands on the minimum wage, prevailing wages, so on and so forth. In terms of safety and security, I work at the Department of Labor so I think about OSHA. Things like that make sure that we regulate all 13,000 [inaudible] each of those places are secured. Particularly, a thing that was on top of minds during COVID. Things like, again, make the jobs that are easy to schedule around for you and your family. And also thinking about, how do we have jobs that are not just jobs, but they are the first steps to a career?
So these are questions that are literally being focused on in this administration. As we think about really these next steps, there's a laser focus on how do we make sure these are good jobs? And again, being at the Department of Labor, I would be remiss in saying that we believe that labor has a role here, again, as well as industry in helping them make that happen. So it's intertwined with this, and the hope is that it is in every discussion, not simply, a side discussion in terms of the jobs that we are looking to want to create. So, Larry, I hope that gets at some of your questions.
Good: Thank you very much. Maria, last but certainly not least, you and your colleagues at JFF were a really valuable and active part of the work groups that did the papers, that wrote this. And you've done some amazing pieces that you've put out since the election on, about federal strategy and policy. So pick where you want to weigh in as an anchor to what we've just done across the rest.
Maria Flynn: Absolutely. Thanks, Larry. It's great to be here with my friends and copanelists, and I also see a lot of familiar names in the attendee lists. So it's great to be here with everyone. And I know we have a lot of folks on the line who have been in the trenches of workforce development for decades. I just want to thank everybody for their work. What I want to do is just underscore a few themes that we've heard, but then also add a couple of new thoughts. So first to take us back where Larry started, here we are in May of 2021, and in a lot of ways, right? We are in this new moment. We're in a new moment, in a time of reopening and a time of really important heightened awareness about racial equity and justice.
But at the same time, I think we as a nation and particularly in the policy circles continue to ask a lot of the same questions, right? What I have liked about this BETS process is that we have had so many groups come together and really collaborate around a set of really agreed upon priorities and principles. So it's like, how can we continue to push as a field to really have a unified and really aggressive point of view to help us finally, I think, kick down some of these doors that we've been knocking at now for a couple of decades? I feel the time is right for that.
Earl talked about the need for a more flexible and innovative system, right? And I think, to me, that is where I think the more that we can paint a picture of what that looks like—in recent conversations I had with some members of Congress, they're looking for those examples of where exactly is the flexibility? Where can we use more innovation? I think the more precise that we can be, the better. And then I also just completely agree with Chike, and I think this is where JFF and many other groups have been pretty clear about is that we certainly need increased funding, but we also need reform. So it's like this balance of funding and reform that I think we want to not lose as these conversations go forward.
But, to add a couple of other thoughts to the mix. A number of you have talked about silos and how those get constructed and how those get solidified. And I think, how can we really be thinking about not only workforce development, economic development, poverty alleviation, and career and technical education, adult education, and really be thinking, very systemically, how can these programs be better aligned? How do we think about making them accessible to the workers and the learners that need to access them? And how could a high-quality career navigation system be a really important through line connecting those pieces of the puzzle?
So I think the last point I would make now is, I think in D.C., we see several trains running in parallel. So we have House and Senate authorizing committees talking about potential reauthorization. We have the president’s plans that have much needed significant dollar amounts tagged to them that need to go through an appropriations process. We have conversations about free college, which I feel are, right now, too disconnected or happening in their own silo. Whereas we could really be having a more comprehensive conversation around what we need around post-secondary access. And so, we have conversations about childcare, that again, much needed, but how can they be part of a more comprehensive view?
So that's where I would continue to push. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of bringing the whole government to it, but I feel that right now, it is still a pretty siloed discussion and that then gets even more solidified when you move into congressional committee jurisdictions and so forth. So I think—I would encourage us all just to keep pushing and to be thinking about some of these longer-term goals, as well as the near-term solutions.
Good: Maria, thank you very much. And first, I would echo your point that Earl said--this work group that led to this was an amazing piece from the level of consensus across diverse and really smart people about the range of things that need to be going on. And I've never experienced that level of consensus in all the years I've been working in this. And so, I feel like we're at a moment where the people who've been deep in both the policy and the practice—there's a convergence, I think, as you were saying, around what some of the big ideas and issues are. So that's a really encouraging moment to be taking on what Chike is talking about. So a quick question for you is, and I'll draw on your childcare example and connecting in. So childcare policy has a whole bunch of aspects to it. One of them is, it's a low-wage, high-turnover, difficult to deal with occupation. And those often haven't been dealt with in the workforce system because they're low paying and high turnover and don't pass immediate good job tests. How do you see the connection to the workforce side of an issue like childcare, with the adequacy and availability and other aspects that would be worked on from a human services perspective?
Flynn: Yes. I think we have an opportunity to really have a pretty bold rethinking both of early childhood jobs as well as going to the other end of the spectrum, the long-term care jobs as well. So how do we really look at the care economy, look at the importance that that plays in our nation and both the role it provides as services that are needed to enable workers, but also the role of the workers in those occupations, I think is a really interesting and important conversation to have. So I do think it's going to take investment, it's going to take some kind of reimagining of roles and commitments. And as Chike and others have said, really diving into the idea of pathways.
Buford: Larry, I'm just going to chime in and support Maria. There's some really good childcare strategy examples coming out of Pennsylvania right now. On one end, you've got the higher ed partners who will have the baccalaureate and the community college partners right now partnering with childcare providers, employers. And then the funding is coming in from the state of Pennsylvania, Kellogg Foundation, and Heinz. And so, we're really intrigued by it, and it's built around our childcare apprenticeship. And so, the idea is all those players coming together to support that but also to support that upon graduation completion, the right wage is that's what's being negotiated now.
So I just want to mention that, and that really came about a variety of conversations, but this pandemic really eliminated the need for that. We know it's needed but it was screaming for that for the past year. And so, I'm hoping that, that the end result of that is something that will become a national model. So I just wanted to mention that it's something to keep an eye on, especially from an apprenticeship front.
Good: Right. Thanks. Thank you, Earl. And it's a great reminder that, as Chike talked about earlier, the holistic approaches across government means that we need to be looking at seemingly intractable parts that we've just winced at and say, "What are the moving parts? What are the things that would change, that add up to a different equation and a different model of going forward?" And you both just gave a great example.
We're going to shift to questions from the audience and encourage people to keep putting them in the Q&A. And with my friends at the Fed, we will bring as many of them forward in the remaining next 20 minutes or so, as we can. And with the panelists, I'll raise the questions and, not everybody has to answer everyone, but if you've got a point of view, just flag it and we'll go there.
I want to start with one that was asked before the conference, the early arriver here. It was about an important issue we're seeing obviously in the work and trying to, I think, be smart about it, too. It's about uplifting worker voice. We have lots of rooms, like we did on this paper, full of policy experts and people who run programs and agencies, but those were not rooms filled with workers. How do we bring workers into the reform discussions substantively? And Chike talked about basically human centered design models where there's an assumption about that. But as we think about changing workforce policy, how do we bring the worker voice into the center of it?
Aguh: Happy to kick off here and I'll say this is a really important issue for Secretary Walsh.
Aguh: We have a senior adviser for worker voice in the secretary's office …, who is an incredible colleague of mine. And let me start off with something provocative, but hopefully I think it'll resonate with this crowd. Which is, if we look at any of the shortcomings in our workforce system writ large, I would argue that they are directly tied to the lack of worker voice in their formation. Again, as someone who used to be in the industry, you can generally link bad products to not talking to customers. And generally, if our customer is the American worker, we can look at, I think, some of the shortcomings that we've talked about, particularly in terms of delivery as that.
And so, again, at the department, we have our senior adviser and, again, thinking through directly for particular initiatives, how we bring in worker voices early in the process as possible. It is one thing to describe an initiative that you've already rolled out and ask how a worker feels about it, it's a very different thing to say, "What is it that you need? And let's proactively codevelop something together." And again, that looks, and it can be in a number of different ways, things like labor management organizations and other types of venues. But I would also say, it is not something for government, it's also a thing for—no statute, no regulation will encompass all the things in reality. Therefore, there will be people on the ground and in state governments, local governments, community-based organizations, workforce development partners who will have to fill in.
And the question is, when you're creating those interventions in the white space of the regulation and of the grant, is a worker there? Are workers there to help guide that? And I'll be honest, I think the answer is probably not as much as they should be. And so, again, that involvement can look many different ways, but I would argue that development needs to be, not just at the front end and not just at the back, but in the middle and all the way out. And again, if we look at our shortcomings, it’s generally because we didn't go to a family of people who are most affected. The other thing that I'll say, which is more probably for my fellow policymakers, and Maria spent a good deal of time at labor as well and she'll remember this, there's always a, "let's wait another week." We have, "These things take time," so on and so forth. And one thing I said to someone once was, or said to me once was, "the people in power are never as urgent as the people affected."
And so, I think one thing I think that we can definitely take from many of the workers that we are looking to support is the sense of urgency. Again, we're down eight million jobs as compared to last year, and so how do we have the urgency and how do we bring in those voices as quickly as possible, and also testing and iterate along the way with their guidance, with their voice, with their insights? Because they are the experts on their own experience.
Flynn: I completely agree with Chike's point. And I think this is an example, one of many, right, where language and intentionality really matters. Looking back in the history of workforce development legislation, a lot of times, I think, worker voice gets translated into, make sure you have a representative of X group on the workforce board, right? It becomes more of a checklist issue versus a design issue. And so, I think just reframing how we message it, how we set good examples for what this could look like, how we incentivize worker voice, I think in moving it from a compliance checklist issue to a fundamental core reform element would be really important.
Buford: Maria, I love that last point about the checklist strategy. So thank you for saying that. I found that testimonials and [inaudible]. But really, having ability to survey those in your pipeline or you're working with is vital. Now, earlier I mentioned that path to pathway strategy and, that's not something I sat around and thought about in my strategy laboratory, it's from having participants over the years say, "I don't know how to navigate this. What are the steps to take? Someone tell me or help me understand how to deal with HR situation that Chike mentioned earlier?" No. That's coming directly from the voice of workers, and so we have to continue to listen and develop strategies and also simplistic ways for them to navigate.
Good: Maria's comments, especially, and Earl's made me think back a long way to when the workforce system was designing what are now America's Job Centers. And one of the things, and we worked with a whole lot of communities around the country as they were trying to figure out what those were going to be. And what I'm remembering as I think back on it of the ones we worked with, a differentiation of the ones that did customer focus groups and conversations at the very front end, that had customers in the rooms where the design was being done to help think it through and give feedback along the way, versus those that didn't. And as I think back to the ones that I think had staying power over time, they did it well. The ones that didn't ... Again, I don't have a scientific correlation, but my impressionistic memory is that it mattered a lot when people really had customers involved at the front-end design.
And we are in an industry that has been expert driven in many ways. And how we are smart to do what Chike and Maria and Earl just talked about, I think is really important going forward. We're moving into one, among many other parts, of the federal apparatus, WIOA [Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act] reauthorization as one of the levers for some of the changes everyone's been talking about. What should we be paying attention to there? What are the big things to use that as a vehicle for? And Maria, I'm going to pick on you first because I know that you've testified on it recently, and I know it's something that you've given a lot of thought to.
Flynn: Absolutely. And I do see in the chat a question which I think is a really great one. Should WIOA be reauthorized or should it be greatly reformed before it is reauthorized? I as Maria Flynn actually think it needs significant reform. I don't think, however that that's what we're ... That's not what's going to happen. I think we're going to see, which is a good thing, we're going to see some bipartisan agreement, I hope, on some key reforms and adaptations, I think that respond to this moment. I don't think we're going to see the fundamental rethinking that perhaps, like those of us in the BETS group feel would be important.
I think we don't want to say that's a negative thing; I think it's still positive momentum in the right direction. It may not bring everything we would like. I would suspect, however, that we would see emphasis on career pathways, on sector strategies, on connections to apprenticeship, on hopefully doing something to modernize the eligible training provider list. I think right now we have 50 percent of the States that are operating under waivers of the ETPL, right? So to me, that's no way to govern if you have half of the entities doing something different. So I think we'll see, I think, some consensus around those elements.
We've heard ambitious timelines about having something by Fourth of July or the summer, I hope that's possible, but we'll see. And again, how those conversations, I think, match up with the Biden proposals and how those pieces fit together in Congress, I think, will be important to watch as well.
Good: Earl, as you recently left being a practitioner mostly with a major part of your work being with WIOA, what's your take and what's important to do in reauthorization?
Buford: Yeah. Having run two systems, previously in Milwaukee and most recently, Pittsburgh, so different vantage points. So first of all, ditto everything Maria mentioned, especially on the focus on the sector strategies and more articulation with employers. But, again, the simple answer is more local flexibility and more guidance from the state and the Department of Labor. Most local practitioners know what's needed. There are some guidelines to follow, but the local flexibility on … how to fix the ETL in their market. How often to fund a situation? How to work with your high rate partner, taking on something that's traditionally not a WIOA ...Let me give a good example. Pittsburgh funded a co-op program between a community college and a small four-year university had a reciprocity agreement with their co-op. They came to me for [inaudible] dollars and couldn't fund them. So I had to use TANF dollars to fund the co-op director’s position to make it a reality. So one, we're being smart about how to use resources to make something happen, but that should have been an easy connection to the WIOA system. And so, my whole point is more local flexibility and more guidance from the state on how to use as much flexibility and there’s a [inaudible] for a reason, it's innovation. So let's take advantage of that.
Good: Chike, anything you want to add about WIOA reauthorization opportunities?
Aguh: I would just say, stay tuned. Many of the ideas that Earl and Maria have talked about have been out there on the field, and we've heard that at the Department of Labor. And the best I can say is, I think stay tuned and they said most of it better than I could have.
Good: Let me go to a totally different question. I thank the audience for continuing to feed them in. We're edging out of the total isolation phase of the pandemic, and the mask requirements and travel requirements are easing. And a question that's really out there is about how remote work is going to play out going forward? There’s lots of news coverage about the hybrid models and every company will start thinking about, what are the assumptions? Will it work or not work? What does the learning of the past year about remote work do for economic mobility for workers, and does that affect certain workers and not other workers? How does what we've learned in the pandemic affect everything we're talking about? Chike.
Aguh: Yeah. I think a place to start is remote work is only a reality for a certain part of the population. That's really an important thing to say. And frankly, it still is swept in the most privileged, in the most formally educated and have the most money. That's an important thing to say. There are many people for whom this remote work is not really a thing, and that was true before, and it will likely be true after. I think the question is, where are the opportunities that this provides? And also, what are some of the things that I think we have to watch? One, is we are beginning, and I'm saying beginning to think about, how do you decouple certain types of work from certain locations?
You see it's actually most of the space I used to come from, which is technology. There are certain types of technology jobs in places like cybersecurity, like analytics, that no longer have to be done where the employer is. Does that create opportunities for people in underserved communities as well as rural America? Now, that is partially dependent on investments like broadband, but that potentially is an opportunity. On the other side, as more organizations have become more dependent upon technology, whether that be from a workforce analytics point of view. Again, for those of you who are on Microsoft, you probably got a Microsoft analytics email every week telling you how long you're online and who you talk to and all that. To even ways that we are hiring, doing compensation, how do we make sure that with that increased use of technology, we get the upsides and not frankly, potentially, some of the downsides that might be influenced by bias?
Again, we're at the very beginning of that discussion, but the question is, one, the part of the American workforce that doesn't have access to remote work, how do we expand that to the folks who have not had opportunities before? And, on the increased use of technology, how do we make sure we get the best and not the worst, particularly in terms of the things that might reinforce bias, that may have an impact on workers down the line? But let me throw it to Earl and to Maria who will have even more insightful thoughts.
Buford: Well, as an organization that is 100 percent virtual and remote now, it's been obviously easier to do that. But what I'm finding is back to the childcare issue, and how does that help some of our families, professional families, but also some of our single-mom situations better? So it'd be a miss if we didn't have that conversation and its effect in the virtual space. And obviously, if we can finally fix the childcare situation and childcare issue I talked about earlier, I think that'll allow this to get even stronger. But right now, I'm seeing with some of my colleagues and coworkers ... Let's see.
We've all sat on a virtual conversation where they're joined by their teammates, known as their children during the meeting [crosstalk]. So I just wanted to make that point, but then also, again, the childcare strategies that need to have that all fixed in this.
Flynn: I think I agree with everything they have said. I would use this as an opportunity to change the angle a little bit, which is, in addition to remote work, I think what we have learned in the past year is that we need to be able to help the public systems deliver their service virtually in a high quality way. So it's not only the digitization or moving jobs to virtual environments, but also just how do we think about the digital transformation of the public systems? What does that mean? What does that investment look like? What does the field building and technical assistance look like that the federal government could provide? But I think that's a really important aspect of this as well.
Good: And I just would underscore Chike's point about broadband. And one thing we learned with schools as well as with the workforce programs was how uneven, in both urban and rural settings, it is to be able to get adequate access for things that others take for granted. And how will we really had a major learning disconnect as a result of that. So part of the importance of that investment that I know is in the administration's proposals really is, to fill the gaps that markets haven't naturally done of good high speed internet access and people having equipment.
We've got a few minutes left. Let me ask another question that the paper actually talks about and argues ... The paper argues for a much larger investment and sustained investment and professional development in the workforce space. Years ago, way back when I was barely entering the field, the labor department used to have a sizeable budget for supporting various activities to help professional development. That was reduced hugely over the years. And a lot of what's done today is done philanthropically and pretty evenly. What should we be doing for professional development in the workforce field going forward?
Flynn: This is probably the area that I am most passionate about at the moment. And so, I would love for folks who are interested in this, I think, I'd love to have a deeper conversation. I just feel that it's time to really truly build a workforce development field, right? Because I feel in a lot of ways, a lot of us have ended up in this field through different paths. It's not exactly something that folks like go off to college to study workforce development or ... so I think that it would be important and exciting to really see, how can we build a more formal field? How do we think about the certifications that are—and I know there's been attempts at this in the past, but how do we both train and support the folks doing the work on the ground? How do we build a pipeline of new local board directors? How do we think about the next generation of state workforce administrators? How do we think about encouraging young people to think about jobs in the federal government, which ... I joined the federal government when I was 22, and not a lot of people think that that's an appealing job, right? But how do we change opinions of what are the possibilities and what are the different career paths within the workforce system? And what do groups like US DoL, in terms of their technical assistance investments, the different associations that are out there, whether it be [inaudible], how do we start to join forces around this and think about building, not just the skills of the current workforce, but the future workforce workforce, I think, is the big question that needs to be answered.
Buford: Just to follow Maria's point that, when a few of us created Midwest Urban Strategies six years ago, one, it was a community of practice, but we also built some laboratory of voices for support. And one of them is, anything from a new CEO comes in, there's an onboarding process put forward by the association to help that local market onboard their new executive or CEO, for instance. Also, there's a cadre for the chief program officers and the program staff, and there's a series of workshops that are done in support of that.
So there's always been an attempt to do this, but we need more federal support to make this, as Maria said, make this a focus. And then, I think it'd be easier to go in and leverage what the actual practitioners or the natural organization need to do and even, fill up their own training program or training plan. Who's better at running training programs than the practitioners that agree on it? So, why don't we also train up there if they're professionals in nature.
Aguh: If I could just add one [crosstalk] ... here, as someone who started out their career as a teacher, and this reminds me, I think, of a moment that teaching arrived probably 15 years ago, the beginning of the professionalization … feedback conversation, even though this has been a conversation for 100 years, and I think we're very much here now. I would say two areas where I think everyone who's in this space needs to think through, one is, the applications of technology in terms of doing this space. I think that is critical, and quite honestly, if we are honest, the knowledge of that across the ecosystem is uneven, in terms of how we use technology to really serve the American worker, particularly in this space.
The other one is something that I have seen working across sectors around workforce development. Everyone knows the system from their vantage point, meaning, employers get what it means to be an employer, so on and so forth. And what I find is most lacking is knowledge of the other players within the system, their incentives, their needs, and we really, really need that. Because, again, that's how you begin to get, at times, workforce development providers making training that doesn't relate to the workforce. This is how you have employers who may not be changing how they're looking at skills in terms of hiring people. And again, that cross-sector understanding is really critical, particularly at this place and at this time.
Good: And I only have one quick thing building on that last point. One of the models that, with philanthropic support, has been promising and successful in some communities is doing policy academies about workforce development, where the invitees are deliberately multi-sector, crossing every span that you just talked about, and really giving people professional development that lets them learn a lot, but also see where paths can be in all of that. So to echo Maria's point, this needs investment, this is a physician heal thyself, kind of a thing. We're in the workforce development business, and we are the least good at developing our own workforce and all of that. And there's lots of reasons, but federal investments is certainly one of them. We have reached the end of our time, and I want to turn it back over to Sarah to wrap this up. So, thanks everybody on the panel for all your help.
Miller: And thanks to you as well, Larry. Fantastic moderation, such a lush discussion. I really appreciate all of the perspectives that you brought to the table today, especially with the digging in on this investing in the professional development aspect of our field. Chike, I myself am a teacher that found her way to the workforce development field. So we do come from a myriad of backgrounds, and there's a myriad of perspectives all within it. There was another question that came in as well. How do we help employers be good workforce partners to the system itself but also to their workers, who we're working to develop?
So I think we may have just slammed it on another BETS brief, on workforce development, professional development. But please join me in thanking the panel on the call today. Chike, Maria, Earl, Larry. It is just such an honor to be on the call with you today and to hear this discussion. We've had such great engagement with the audience. I want to thank you above all; without you sending questions and engaging in these conversations, we don't get as lush as we do. So thank you so much for sending in all your questions. We couldn't even possibly get to all of what we had today, but rest assured, we will be sending some post-session follow-up with insights from the panelists here and then look forward to our next conversation.
We're looking to schedule sometime in July. I hope we're all, at some point, taking some deserved summer vacation. But we will try to thread that needle and find a good time that works for most of us in July. So look for some detail from us on that next session. And again, thank you to my panelists. Thank you for joining and have a great afternoon.