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Public Workforce System and Public Libraries: Stronger Together

By Grace A. Kilbane, Administrator, Office of Workforce Investment, ETA


In my career with the workforce development system, I have time and again seen that our mission relies critically on making connections.  At the most fundamental level, we connect individuals with career assistance and employment opportunities.  We are also connecting workers, job seekers and employers with other community resources to ensure that we are meeting the complex and varied needs of our customers.   


In this light, I am especially pleased at the opportunity to use this Community of Practice to share an exciting partnership ETA is developing with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  Library professionals are expert at facilitating access to and helping people make sense of new information, and I know that our system can benefit enormously from engaging them in meaningful and concrete ways.  We have summarized the different aspects of our partnership, from sharing information about our electronic tools to the July 19 Webinar highlighting promising state and local examples of workforce-library collaboration, in the newly issued Training and Employment Notice No. 50-09, “Encouraging Partnerships between the Workforce Investment System and Public Libraries to Meet Career and Employment Needs.”  I hope that after you read the TEN, you will be inspired to engage your local library and find out if there are logical areas where its resources complement yours.  After all, this is what we do best as workforce developers—leveraging assets from multiple sources to make a difference in the lives of people, whether they walk in the door of our One-Stop Career Center, use our electronic tools, or maybe even turn to their community library.


In the coming weeks, I sincerely hope that you visit this Reemployment Works! Community of Practice often and learn more about how the different workforce-library partnerships established around the country can help inform regional, state and local reemployment strategies.  And, of course, we very much hope that you will take the time to share your experience collaborating with public libraries.  Whether you are a One-Stop Career Center employee interacting with libraries, a state workforce agency leader engaged in strategic partnerships, or anyone else with a connection to our mission, we would love to hear from you!  To share your partnership examples, click here. 


I look forward to learning about your experiences with libraries and hope that as a result of our Federal partnership, you may discover new ways libraries can be valuable partners.


With warm regards,




About 250 people joined us recently for an interactive ‘strategic doing’ event hosted by Brevard Workforce and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, (and generously sponsored by FLORIDA TODAY, our local Gannett newspaper) called Overcoming the Space Challenge through Regional Innovation.  The group came together to learn more about the challenges we face at the end of NASA’s Shuttle Program, and to actually incorporate our ideas and resources into a strategic plan that would help Brevard and the surrounding region in overcoming these challenges.   It was the first such event Brevard has ever experienced.


Facilitated by Ed Morrison, strategic advisor to the Purdue Center for Economic Development and Linda Fowler, founder of  Regionerate, local, regional and state experts on the leading edge of responsibility in the areas of schools, our economy, the aerospace industry, county services, and help for the workforce started off the event with some insight before attendees broke into groups. 

Brevard Workforce briefed the audience on our intensive Aerospace Workforce Transition program and the Regional Aerospace Workforce Initiative, efforts that started more than three years ago to serve and assist the talent that will be displaced.


After the briefing, the re-engagement network groups got down to work. They discussed the first steps in pulling together people and resources that might work together to strategize and carry out activities that could help in several areas entitled: Aerospace 2.0, NASA 2.0, Entrepreneurship, Talent Marketing, Talent Advancement, Growing Clusters, Aerospace Suppliers, Talent Support, New Narratives and Government 2.0. More than a dozen action plans were created by the various network participants, who are still working together to refine them via a dedicated Internet social media web site set up for the community.  Brevard Workforce plans to reconvene the attendees with their respective networks sometime in July 2010.


We recently posted several resources on the Worforce3One website related to a dynamic and effective action model, Strategic Doing, that builds on three principles that have helped our workforce system respond quickly and with vigor to the challenges the recession has brought us:  Alignment, Linking, and Leveraging.  While the system has long used these principles almost intuitively in service delivery, we haven’t always applied them strategically to solve, or even to anticipate and avoid, problems. Now we can. 


Strategic Doing is also a platform for moving quickly and collaboratively from innovative ideas to innovative actions in a simple, structured and – most important in our fast-moving world where even a few focused hours are a luxury – fast process that helps to solidify partnerships, define relationships, and create a “swarm” (to borrow a Strategic Doing term) of new ideas and solutions quickly.  And with many states needing to decide- like now – how best to invest their expiring ARRA Reemployment Services (RES) and Wagner-Peyser dollars,  there may be no better time to become familiar with this action-oriented decision making tool.


As you will see from the materials, a growing number of local, regional and state organizations are using this approach to “jump-start” creative solutions.  As you will hear from some of them in future blogs, they are attracted in part by the focus on action, not just planning.  Participants leave their sessions with specific partners identified (by name and phone number, not just organization) and action steps ready to be taken forward.  This ability to align, link and leverage in real time makes the Strategic Doing experience especially satisfying to those who have participated. And it is certainly even more attractive as the clock ticks down for obligation of the Recovery Act RES and Wagner-Peyser funds.  It’s all about making good decisions and acting now, while funds are available.


So download, read and share!  You can find the information on how to “do” Strategic Doing here (link). And look to the CoP for more bloggers to share how their states are investing their ARRA RES funds.  


The $250 million in Reemployment Services Grants provided through the Recovery Act have generated a host of creative and innovative approaches to helping the unemployed. In particular, we have learned a great deal over the last year about how assessment tools can strengthen reemployment services. Personality assessments, work values assessments, skills transferability assessments/tools, interest assessments, educational assessments, occupational skills assessments, work readiness assessments and the list goes on.... all of these types of assessments and more increase the workforce system’s ability to match job seekers and employers.   


If you are still looking for ways to invest your ARRA RES funds, we want to help you learn about which instruments are the most effective by connecting you with your workforce system colleagues who can give you unbiased, first-hand feedback on their experience with specific products. If you are interested in purchasing a particular assessment instrument or tool and would like to see if there is a workforce system colleague that is using the instrument you are interested in, please contact our resident expert on assessment tools:  


Lauren Fairley-Wright

Workforce Analyst

USDOL – ETA – Office of Workforce Investment


In addition, this blog is a great place to start asking questions related to the effective use of assessments.  Ask your colleagues what tools they are using and whether they find them user-friendly from both the administrator’s role as well as feedback received from customers.  Ask your colleagues about the analysis of the assessment results.  For example, was there a significant amount of training involved upfront to learn how to administer the tool and analyze the results?


Peer review and feedback can help make informed investments in your assessment suite!  Use this community of practice and blog to get started now.



Did you miss the opportunity to connect with Heartland 2010 presenters and participants? No worries - we have posted video of many of theConference sessions. The U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA) Region 5, in conjunction with the Great Lakes Employment and Training Association (GLETA), invites you to get connected with session presenters, other attendee's, and ETA staff by watching the videos of some of the sessions that were presented at this years Heartland Conference. To view the videos, just click the links:    

List of Reemployment related Workshops

 Modeling a New Education
Addressing barriers to successful sustained employment.Gateway Technical College & Kenosha County Job Center will discuss collaborations designed to train today's dislocated worker.

Preparing Targeted Populations for Self-Employment

Targeted self-employment preparation: The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will show how self-employment can work in today's troubled economy.

Transitioning Offenders to Today's Workforce

How can an ex-offender survive today's economy? The Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Department of Corrections will discuss proven methods to prepare offenders for the transition from incarceration to employment.

Self-Employment Lessons-

from the Public Workforce System:  Tough economic times? Why not create your own job?: Project GATE II, IMPAQ International and the LLC, Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education showcase best practices and lessons learned from various entrepreneurial efforts.


Expanding Opportunities for Mature Jobseekers through Partnerships

Innovations in the expansion of opportunities for the mature jobseeker: Mature Services, Inc.,SCSEP and Easter Seals will discuss several new pathways for improving opportunities for the mature worker during these tough economic times. 

Building Service Bridges for UI Claimants

Reconnecting UI claimants to the One-Stop System: The Wisconsin Job Service, Minnesota DEED, USDOL ETA and Washington DC will discuss new initiatives and strategic efforts to bridge this gap.

Additional 2010 Heartland Conference videos

Update on the Auto Recovery
Update on the Recovery of Auto Communities and Workers

Presenter: Dr. Paul Harrington, Director, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northwestern University

When is the Midwest going to Recover?

When is the Midwest going to recover?

Presenter: Dr. Edward Montgomery, Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers

Understanding Today's Economic Challenges

Understanding the Challenges and Charting a Path Forward for the Midwest (Super Session)

Presenters: Laura Tomaka, Graham Toft

Rapid Reemployment

Rapid Response: Connecting to Rapid Reemployment

Presenters: Bruce Bernardi, Ken Messina, and Jeff Ryan

Connecting to Education
Kenneth L. Ender, Ph.D., Harper College

Skillshed Analysis
Skillshed Analysis: A Tool for Future Strategies

Presenters: Paula Nissen, Joe Hogue

Supporting Participants in Training

Supporting Participants in Training Through Tough Economic Times

Presenters: Rebekah Woolley, Jamie Gallie, Deborah Galoway, and Janet Rosentreter

National Emergency Grants

National Emergency Grants: The Art and Science of Application and Project Management

Presenters: Linda Ortolano, Kim Powell, and Gerardo Lara

The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect: Engagement/Leadership Strategies for Serving Challenged Youth

Presenters: Thomas Major, Jr., Clint Johnson, and Joe'von Beverly

The New Playing Field

Expectations for a 21st Century Worforce System
Presenters: Robert Knight, Bonnie Elsey


Will you be attending the 2010 Heartland Conference?

Do you have a question for a presenter?

Are there topics you would like to be addressed?

We welcome all questions!