What’s Next for BLU

November 07, 2014

In January 2015 BLU will once again bring employers to Washington, DC to talk about what is working in their states regarding workforce partnerships. With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the strong sector partnership and employer engagement language included in the law, the voice of employers in DC is more important than ever. This convening will give BLU employers an opportunity to engage with key national policymakers on the skill and training issues impacting their industries and elevate the innovative, collaborative solutions they’ve been using to address these challenges at the local level.

In the past three years, BLU has brought over 100 employers to Washington to change the discussion about the skills gap. Among the many messages that BLU employer have carried that are making a difference in DC:

  • Sector partnerships are critical to workforce success – sector partnerships are promoted as a primary tool throughout WIOA
  • Employer engagement is critical – the new WIOA law tasks the Department of Labor (DOL) to develop a measure of meaningful employer engagement as a benchmarked outcome
  • Congress must work together – the overwhelmingly bipartisan, bicameral, support for WIOA indicates that this can be done
  • Not everyone needs a four year degree – administration officials are now regularly talking about the need for apprenticeships, certifications, associate degrees and other credentials

Even with that great progress, our work in DC is not nearly complete. Congress has yet to negotiate sequesters and appropriate the funds for WIOA. DOL must tackle what employer engagement means both for the purposes of writing the WIOA employer engagement performance measure, and for issuing guidance on how states and local areas should utilize sector partnerships. Work-based learning, such as apprenticeship and on-the-job training, is gaining traction. As key stakeholders in the workforce system, employers have a role in developing all of these policies. BLU must continue to weigh in with policymakers to ensure that the policies enacted by Washington help employers find and train the skilled workforce we need to grow our businesses and stay competitive in the global economy. If you want to be a part of this national dialogue, please reach out to Scott Ellsworth to learn more about our BLU Fly-In in January 2015.