I recently attended the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) Forum. It was four valuable days focused on addressing the needs of businesses, career seekers, workforce boards, and local economies.  

Due to Penn Foster's sponsorship of the event I was able to attend a variety of sessions and had the opportunity to meet with several Workforce Investment Boards and NAWB board members. Everyone I met was committed to sharing their challenges, tools, and strategies so they could learn from one another's ideas. With so many diverse topics covered I realized it could be challenging for workforce boards to decide where to focus. Therefore, after listening and participating in these discussion, I identified the three key areas I believe will have the biggest impact on outcomes for WIBs.  

1. Meet the Needs of Opportunity Youth

According to The Aspen Institute, there are currently 5.5 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24, known as Opportunity Youth, who are our to school and not working and who face systemic barriers to jobs and education in the United States. This means there is a large pool of out-of-school youth in your region who would like to gain the skills, knowledge, and experience to work in a growing field like HVAC, hospitality, construction, or healthcare but don't know how to get started. Start connecting with them today, educating them on the programs and opportunities you offer and expand your program offerings to meet the needs of this group.  

2. Develop Career Pathways, Starting with High School 

There are 39 million people in the United States without a high school diploma. This lack of credential is prohibiting them from further pursuing their education and gaining the skills they need to enter the workforce. Help develop and advance the lives of your clients by providing them with the opportunity to earn a career-focused high school diploma, certificate, or degree. By providing in-demand career pathways you enhance an individual's welfare & accelerate their economic mobility. You also drive better business performance for your local businesses. 

3. Create Real Change in Your Region by Developing a Strategic Relationship with an Education Provider

Providing education and training programs help your clients build their skills and advance their careers. Understanding this is easy. The challenge is in finding the right strategic partner to support your goals and educate your clients. A full-stack education provider, like Penn Foster, is the key to future success.  It allows your workforce board to be agile, fulfill the changing local labor demands, and share responsibility. You can lean on them to support you, your clients and market the program locally. Partnering with the right education provider will help you meet local demand quickly and easily while generating successful outcomes for your workforce board.   

I believe if WIBs can focus on those three objectives, they'll have a successful 2016. I look forward to continuing to build on the relationships I made and helping WIBs build education programs that provide career pathways for their local opportunity youth and adult learners.  

If you'd like to learn more about Penn Foster's affordable, scalable, flexible programs contact us at [email protected] or call 888-427-5400.  Want to see how Penn Foster has helped Job Corps create career pathways for their young people?

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