Creating an Agenda for Workforce Recovery: A Workshop Series for States

A four-part design workshop series for Governors’ advisors and state leaders to facilitate peer-learning, collaboration and the creation of a state agenda for workforce recovery.

The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) Workforce Development & Economic Policy program hosted a four-part design workshop series for Governors’ advisors and state leaders to facilitate peer-learning, collaboration and the creation of a state agenda for workforce recovery. The series was designed to help states frame key challenges faced by their workforce, define short- and long-term recovery goals, and foster innovation and teamwork to improve workforce outcomes.

Each workshop in the series explored one of four essential components of a strong, equitable and sustainable recovery with state leaders:

  • Expanding Access to Essential Support Services
  • Rapidly Connecting Jobseekers to Work
  • Advancing Digital Inclusion & Resilience
  • Enhancing Job Quality for All Workers

Each two-hour workshop included Governors and subject matter experts on how states are incorporating these topics into workforce and economic recovery plans. Attendees participated in a design-thinking exercise to identify metrics that advance equity, develop short-term wins and embed principles including user-design, visioning, data, innovation and communication across each recovery topic.

The content and conversations from the four workshops will be compiled into a comprehensive state agenda for workforce recovery, which will be published early in 2021. 

Workshop Products

To encourage states to bring these planning practices back to their communities, at the end of each module, participants received:

  • Annotated workshop notes and video recordings of workshop panels
  • ✓ Self-facilitation guide for leading discussion/exploration and action planning around each topic in their own state
  • Relevant research products and tools produced by NGA Center staff, NGA Partners, and other organizations
  • ✓ 1:1 technical assistance from NGA Center staff for implementing these topics into state recovery planning
  • A crowdsourced, comprehensive state agenda for workforce recovery

Workshop Schedule

DateWorkshop Title
Thursday
November 12, 2020

Expanding Access to Essential Support Services
Thursday
November 19, 2020

Rapidly Connecting Jobseekers to Work
Thursday
December 3, 2020

Advancing Digital Inclusion & Resilience
Thursday
December 10, 2020

Enhancing Job Quality for All Workers
Please see below for workshop descriptions.

Participating States

  • Workshop Series Participants

Workshop Descriptions

Expanding Access to Essential Support Services

Thursday, November 12, 2020 | 1:00 – 3:00 PM ET

COVID-19 has reinforced the value of accessible health care, childcare, housing, food and transportation as essential elements of a healthy, sustainable workforce. Many states and communities have piloted new policies to support employees on the job that will have long-term impacts on workforce recovery. What are the greatest challenges that workers now face when re-entering the workforce or during longer terms of unemployment? How can states advance supportive services to promote workforce participation and support economic growth, especially for communities already underrepresented in the workforce? This workshop addressed these questions, showcased state solutions and invited states to build on these innovations to advance employment outcomes across the workforce development system.

Workshop Presenters

  • Wan-Lae Cheng, Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • Carl Van Horn, Director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers & Senior Advisor for Strategy and Planning in the Office of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and a Member of the Governor’s Jobs and Economic Opportunity Council
  • Benjamin Hart, Deputy Director of Utah Governor Herbert’s Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)
Wan-Lae Cheng
Carl Van Horn
Benjamin Hart

Rapidly Connecting Jobseekers to Work

Thursday, November 19, 2020 | 1:00 – 3:00 PM ET

States are witnessing unprecedented levels of unemployment – meanwhile aiming to meet an acute need for highly-skilled employees across nearly every sector of the workforce. The expediency in which states have developed and implemented solutions to match dislocated workers to employment opportunities has furthered the potential to increase workforce system responsiveness, especially in a time of crisis. How can these early innovations help rapidly re-employ dislocated workers into in-demand industries during and post-COVID-19? How can states advance job matching, advising and training innovations as part of the reopening and recovery efforts to meet the evolving needs of employers? This workshop addressed these questions, showcased state solutions and invited states to build on these innovations to advance employment outcomes across the workforce development system.

Workshop Presenters

  • Sean Thurman, Director, Global Public Policy, Walmart 
  • Emily Fabiano, Director of Strategy and Operations, Ohio Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation
  • Kelli-Marie Vallieres, Executive Director, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of Workforce Strategy
Sean Thurman

Emily Fabiano
Kelli-Marie Vallieres


Advancing Digital Inclusion & Resilience

Thursday, December 3, 2020 | 1:00 – 3:00 PM ET

Evidence shows that automation is already accelerating across industries in response to the economic downturn – posing a growing threat to employees who lack the digital and technical skills to compete. To avoid major worker displacements, states will need to commit to advancing digital inclusion by closing the technological skills gap and investing in connectivity for all workers. What does digital inclusion and resilience look like in today’s economy? How can states develop solutions that help the economically disadvantaged, communities of color, older workers, rural residents, and those with disabilities gain access to 21st century skills? This workshop addressed these questions, showcased state solutions and invited states to build on these innovations to advance employment outcomes across the workforce development system.

Workshop Presenters

  • Allyson Knox, Director of Education Policy and Programs, Microsoft 
  • Erin Guthrie, Director, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, State of Illinois 
  • Dr. Allison Roberts, Senior Education Advisor, Office of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson 
Allyson Knox
Erin Guthrie
Dr. Allison Roberts

Enhancing Job Quality for All Workers

Thursday, December 10, 2020 | 1:00 – 3:00 PM ET

Employer policies and practices regarding worker safety, pay, benefits, training, and scheduling, shape the daily realities and long-term outcomes for workers—including an increasing number of workers in alternative work arrangements, such as gig or contract work. How do states define job quality in an era of unprecedented unemployment? How can lessons learned about “essential workers” inform state policy and practices to improve labor market outcomes across all industries? This workshop addressed these questions, showcased state solutions and invited states to build on these innovations to advance employment outcomes across the workforce development system.

Workshop Presenters

  • Sara Chaganti, Deputy Director, Community Development Research and Communications, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • Nick Moore, Director, Alabama Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation
  • Julie Kornegay, Senior Outreach Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Sara Chaganti
Nick Moore
Julie Kornegay

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices proudly offered this workshop series with generous support from the Cognizant U.S. Foundation. For questions regarding this workshop series, please contact Madelyn Rahn, Policy Analyst, Workforce Development & Economic Policy Program.