Statewide Workforce Innovation Efforts Expand With Support of National Governors Association

Jill Monte - Content Specialist ·

In every state across the country, the U.S. economy is struggling to gain momentum after the closure and bankruptcy of thousands of small businesses due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to create a more advanced workforce system that supports automation and remote work, the National Governors Association (NGA) has announced the expansion of the NGA Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN).

In this blog, you will learn more about how the NGA WIN is positioned to help states achieve a higher level of innovation and longer-term strategizing to prepare their workforces for a post-COVID-19 recovery for American workers.

I’ll also highlight EDSI –Michigan-based workforce service provider and consulting firm – about its role in providing technical assistance to the NGA as one of 20 advisory members and philanthropic partners asked to participate in supporting the innovation network.

First, let me give you some background on the National Governors Association Workforce Innovation Network.

Who is the National Governors Association and what do they do?

The NGA is the voice of the leaders of 55 states, territories, and commonwealths in our nation who are dedicated to leading bipartisan solutions on policy issues that improve citizens’ lives through state government. Through NGA – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington D.C. – Governors identify priority issues and deal with matters of public policy and governance at the state, national and global levels.

What is the NGA’s mission in relation to the workforce development system?

Part of the NGA’s mission is to support the federal workforce development system in creating quality jobs, inspiring workers, and providing employers with the modern tools they need to advance skills development that leads to long-term employment outcomes and healthy state economies.

The NGA has a division specifically focused on workforce and their main focus is to provide grant funding at the state level so that the state’s workforce leaders can engage in projects to help improve the overall workforce system through innovation and collaboration.

How does the Workforce Innovation Network fit into the NGA’s vision to enhance the state’s workforce efforts?

WIN plays a crucial role; this is where the actual work and solutions start to form. As the non-partisan learning and action collaborative for state leaders, WIN demonstrates a strong commitment to building a resilient workforce. Think of WIN as the state-level policy solutions facilitator whose mission is to improve employment and workforce outcomes by increasing capacity and collaboration efforts between key players, resulting in a more cohesive, robust statewide workforce system.

WIN strives to get the state leadership working together across the country to help improve the system overall for each state and ultimately, for jobseekers and employers.

One way state leadership is working together to expand its innovation efforts involves Workforce Service Provider/Consulting Firm, EDSI, based in Michigan. EDSI is a national workforce development, consulting and training firm responsible for operating more than 115 government contracts in nine states, as well as managing numerous ongoing consulting projects across the U.S.

Spotlight on EDSI – Workforce Service Provider/Consulting Firm

I recently sat down with EDSI’s Kenneth Mall to learn more about the firm’s work with the National Governors Association and Workforce Innovation Network. Our interview is printed below.

Ken Mall
Ken Mall, EDSI Consulting Managing Director

How did EDSI become involved in the NGA WIN initiative?

NGA learned about EDSI through our work with the Missouri Job Centers of the Future project with the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. Our colleagues there are very happy with our work, which ultimately led to the NGA seeing us in action and subsequently being asked to participate in the NGA WIN project.

What qualifies EDSI to assist with this project?

What made us stand out to the NGA was our national, state and local-level workforce development and consulting experience, and our people-first reputation. EDSI engages deeply with workforce boards, workforce development providers, community-based organizations, economic development entities, chambers of commerce, colleges, industry groups and businesses. It is an honor to be involved in this project.

As a technical assistance provider, what kind of work will you be helping states with?

Every state is organized differently, but through this project, we will be assisting states to implement their WIN state action plans which are projects, supported by NGA and implemented by each state, that are designed to improve outcomes of customers that utilize the American Job Center system – primarily job seekers and employers. Some states are focused on a specific population, like our Veterans. Other states are focused on improving services for all customers.

The EDSI team will be working with State leadership to help them meet their goals by providing our expertise and advice, as well as directly supporting tasks to achieve their action plans. For example, a couple of the states in the network are interested in better understanding the processes that Job Center staff follow to deliver services. EDSI will be helping these states by working with local Job Center staff to develop process maps (sometimes referred to as customer journey maps) to visually illustrate the business processes. These process maps will help to identify service delivery gaps and opportunities to improve the process. Other areas that EDSI will be offering technical assistance (TA) include:

  1. State and Local Policy Analysis
  2. Data Analysis
  3. Program Design and Integrated Service Delivery Models

I understand that advisors are already working with the first cohort of states. Which states is EDSI working with?

Yes, the first NGA WIN cohort includes 10 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington. Three states have asked to work with EDSI – Arizona, Illinois and Missouri – to implement their statewide workforce action plans and to support the continuation of their projects initiated by NGA WIN. Drawing on expertise and staff from across the country, EDSI’s is assisting in the implementation of their statewide workforce action plans and to support the continuation of the projects initiated by the NGA WIN.

Will EDSI work with subsequent cohorts of states in the near future?

The process starts with NGA working with the first cohort of the ten states listed above for 5-6 months, then each state moves on to the technical assistance phase, which is where EDSI comes in. Right now, NGA staff is working on designating the second cohort of states, which means EDSI is working with our three states on TA over the next few months to continue the work started by NGA. It will ultimately be up to NGA, however we look forward to supporting as many states as possible in the months ahead.

It was great to connect with Ken regarding this exciting work to help states build and implement highly-effective workforce strategies. If you’d like to learn even more about this work, please contact us so we can connect you with one of our team members.