The break-out groups explored issues relate to recruitment, training, and retention, and developed the following set of recommendations. These recommendations were captured in more detail in the Energy Industry Workforce Action Plan.
The region needs to design and implement a workforce system that is flexible and innovative. This "new" workforce system should:
- Allow for multiple entry and exit points for individuals, and be closely coordinated and aligned with the world of work. Companies and education/training providers must join forces to permit transit back and forth between occupations and training/education, to develop ways of making additional training enticing and convenient, and to promote career mobility.
- Be responsive at all levels to the needs of employers. Despite improvements, Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and other institutional mechanisms of the workforce system still fall short in their ability to quickly meet the needs of the private sector
- Be effectively managed. This is particularly important since the system is and will be, for the foreseeable future, made of many distinct "parts" with overlapping functions. Effectiveness, therefore, depends on business-like, data-driven management. Data are of special concern in this context. For many reasons (such as the lag in availability), there is a broad gap between the information provided by government (such as occupational projections) and the perceptions of industry. This gap must be bridged via new and better methodologies designed to create "just-in-time" information.
- Be driven by industry through partnerships involving labor, management, educational and training providers. No program will succeed without the "buy-in" of all these parties, so that public and private resources can be effectively integrated.
- Look at recruitment, training, and retention as inter-related steps of a larger process. Many practices aimed at retaining employees (such as career ladders) are also powerful recruitment tools; access to training is critical for both recruitment and retention; and so on. Good thinking about attracting and keeping employees needs to be "systems thinking."
- Be based on constantly looking for best practices.
As one Summit participant forcefully observed, none of the stated above is new. We know what to do, and have known for quite a while. The true challenge facing industry and the workforce system as a whole has to do with execution. If this challenge is not met, as this participant noted, we face the prospect of endlessly discussing the same questions for years to come.
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©2008 3 Rivers Clean Energy, Center for Competitive Workforce Development. All rights reserved.