Last year, Congress passed a major revision in the nation's workforce development system. The new law calls for states and regional workforce leaders to integrate their services more closely with other federal programs. The challenge facing workforce development professionals is daunting. In the first place, the many federal programs that need local and regional integration were not designed to work together. So, integration will have to be worked out over time, step-by-step.
Workforce leaders are turning to Strategic Doing, incubated at Purdue, to address the complex challenges of building collaborations across agencies. Over the past decade, PCRD has accumulated valuable experience in promoting innovation within regional workforce development systems. PCRD played an instrumental role in launching such innovations as the nation’s first “green collar” certification in manufacturing. PCRD also had a hand in launching the National STEM Guitar Project, which introduces manufacturing to high school students. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project emerged as one of many workforce collaborations that emerged as PCRD spread the discipline of Strategic Doing.
In March, PCRD professionals guided a workshop for state workforce leadership in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. During that workshop, leaders gained and insight into how strategy works in open, loosely connected networks. Using Strategic Doing, they learn to design complex strategies using simple rules.
In May, the leaders of the Department of Employment Services in the District of Columbia began spreading these new disciplines among department employees and the the department's partners. in June, workforce development leaders in Maryland will follow the same path of learning how to build the complex collaborations needed to transform their workforce development system.