Executive Director’s Notebook: Workforce Initiative seeks to impact the West

By Jim Ogsbury

I recently reported on the tremendous influence that the leadership of the Western Governors is having on national policy through recent Chairman’s Initiatives, such as the Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative and the National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative.

Building on this tradition of effective leadership, WGA’s current chair, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, has designed the Western Governors’ Workforce Development Initiative. Chairman Daugaard and the WGA team joined Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin in Oklahoma City this week for the third in a series of Initiative workshops. The workshop, which was livestreamed and archived, included a keynote by Governor Fallin and remarks by Governor Daugaard.  Roundtable discussions focused on career awareness, credentialing, apprenticeships and other targeted elements of the issue.

In taking on workforce development, Western Governors are addressing a sprawling, multi-faceted challenge. One objective of the workshop series is to help identify those aspects of the issue on which Governors can have the greatest impact. Among other things, we are asking:  How can Governors best leverage their influence, their interest, and their resources to have a positive influence on workforce development in the West?  How can they help close the gap between industry needs and labor pool competencies?  How can they effectively encourage better alignment between educational models and professional opportunity?

Following the final workshop in Seattle on Nov. 1-2, to be hosted by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, WGA will host a series of webinars to further explore discrete issues in workforce development.  We will publish a report on the first year of this initiative at our 2018 Annual Meeting in Rapid City, and develop a work plan to guide our future efforts in this area.

In the meantime, would welcome such thoughts, recommendations or ideas that you might have to contribute to the conversation. To become involved in an effort that is sure to have an impact on workforce development in the West, please contact WGA policy advisor Lauren DeNinno ([email protected]), who is managing this project on the Governors’ behalf.

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or send an email. Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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