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Workforce Development - The Evolution

Navigating Workforce Development: A Conversation with Brad Turner-Little

AI wrote this blog post based on a transcript from the podcast, which contains errors; for the best content, listen to the podcast.

In a recent episode of the Capstone Conversation hosted by Jared Asch, we delved deep into workforce development, shedding light on how workforce agencies are making strides nationally and locally. Our esteemed guest, Brad Turner-Little, President of the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB), offered a wealth of knowledge on the collaboration between workforce agencies, employers, city governments, and educational institutions to enhance the workforce in communities, with a particular focus on the Bay Area.

Brad Turner-Little began by elucidating the critical role of workforce boards across the United States. With around 590 state and local workforce boards under its wing, NAWB's mission revolves around supporting these boards in their efforts to bring businesses and talent together efficiently and effectively. He emphasized the association's advocacy work aimed at fostering flexibility and agility for local boards, enabling them to adeptly meet the specific needs of local businesses and the workforce.

Sharing his journey in workforce development, which started in the mid-90s with Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, Turner-Little’s career has been steadfastly focused on bridging the gap between individuals and employment opportunities. His advocacy for people with disabilities and belief in the transformative power of work underscores his dedication to creating more opportunities for people to engage in meaningful employment. This dedication speaks to a broader belief in the dignity and transformative potential that work holds for individuals.

The conversation then shifted to the importance of local workforce agencies. Turner-Little highlighted these agencies' pivotal role in understanding local labor markets and orchestrating strategic programs. By leveraging local resources, these agencies aim to equip individuals with the skills needed by local businesses, facilitating a symbiotic relationship between talent and employers.

Addressing how employers can engage with workforce boards to meet their hiring needs, Turner-Little outlined various collaborative avenues. These include participation in industry-led capacity-building groups, creating working and learning experiences through internships and apprenticeships, and enhancing outreach and recruitment strategies. Such collaborations not only address immediate hiring needs but also contribute to the development of a skilled and adaptable workforce.

As the workforce landscape continues to evolve, Turner-Little discussed the challenges posed by advancements such as AI and the gig economy. He stressed the importance of digital literacy and adaptability, highlighting initiatives to prepare workers for the future.

Equity and inclusion emerged as central themes, with Turner-Little explaining how workforce boards address these issues to ensure all community members have access to economic opportunities. Through data analysis and targeted outreach, boards strive to serve diverse populations equitably, emphasizing the importance of including all neighbors in the conversation about workforce development.

The dialogue with Brad Turner-Little provided a comprehensive overview of the complex ecosystem of workforce development. It highlighted the collective effort required to meet the evolving needs of employers and the workforce. As we navigate these changes, the insights shared underscore the importance of collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity in building a resilient and dynamic workforce for the future. This conversation sheds light on the ongoing efforts in workforce development and inspires further dialogue and action in communities across the nation.


BELOW IS AN AI-GENERATED TRANSCRIPT OF THE PODCAST it has not been checked for errors.


Jared Asch


Welcome to today's episode of the capstone conversation. I am your host, Jared Asch, and today we're going to take a look at how workforce

relates nationally and locally to our community here in the Bay area, and how workforce agencies can work with employers and with our local city governments and community colleges, and all the more

with our special guest, Brad Turner-Little, who is the President

and ex the National Association of Workforce Boards. So Brad, welcome and tell us a little bit about yourself.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


Sure happy to yeah. And Jared happy to be with you and and share about workforce boards and what they do in communities. And what we do at the National Association is support them as they work across the country to try to help businesses and talent find their way together more effectively and more efficiently.

as I said, I'm the President, CEO, the National Association of Fo workforce boards. I will refer to it as any Wb. Or no, just so that you'll know what I'm talking about. So if you hear. No, but that's it's the the acronym all squished together. But we are the we are the only National Membership Association that represents and supports

the roughly 590 state and local workforce boards. There's about 540, some odd local workforce boards, and then 50 plus States. Those Territories have workforce boards as well. So we represent and support those organizations, those those boards, and then the around. Roughly, 12 1,000 different business members who are active and involved in local workforce boards. We advocate on their behalf with Congress and the Administration

to try to create greater flexibility and the agility for local workforce boards to be responsive to what local business needs.

They uncover and understand and help build better better bridges for talent to access opportunity. And we do that, providing a variety of tools and resources and supports like any other sort of association, would for its organization members. So that's a little bit of kind of of who we are in the organization that I get to lead.

Jared Asch


That was Brad. Before we dive into more about the organization and the great work. You guys do tell us who is Brad?

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


Oh, well, so I am a a long product. Actually, I've built my career in the space of workforce development. Back in the mid nineties. My workforce career started with goodwill industries of Northwest North Carolina in Winston-salem.


I was a job developer then that my my job was to be out in the business community and cultivating relationships with employers so that as folks came through good will programs they would have job opportunities available to them when they when they graduated. I've done work. I apologize, Jared. So my dog has decided he wants to participate in the interview. So, Beckett, it's okay.

It's alright.

There you go, good boy. So Fridays are a work from home day for me which he really enjoys. And apparently there's something happening outside which he desperately wants to be a part of but he will wait.

but I I've worked at the local level, helping people working with businesses to understand their talent needs how are they thinking about? Sort of competitive forces, and how they were thinking about? Like the the both the competency sets and the skills they would need and sort of at that time, and then years in the future.

and and and how sort of goodwill as a part of the workforce ecosystem could help them in that process. Then I've I've done work at the national level, both for good will industries, international and Easter seals. Which is another national nonprofit or not another national organization focused on the needs of individuals and families with disability. With disabilities present. My work. There was again around helping people with disabilities helping easel support people, disabilities, finding employment.

And so I've done. I've done a variety of types of things over the course of my career, but it really has been up the through line. Jared has been a fundamental belief for me

and the power both the power and the dignity that work represents for people.

It is the thing that can transform us. It is the vehicle that gives us resource to provide for our families in the way that we want. It gives us a a sense of contribution to our our, not just our families, but our communities. And there's a there's it is

work is the the, I believe the force to that. Not just gives dignity, but also can really help transform lives. And so the through line of my career is is, how can

I use the resources that I've been given the tables that I'm at to create greater opportunities for more of all of our neighbors. To to participate in work. Build a career particularly one that you know, and that's meaningful and and and feels like that folks can are really contributing to their community. So that's a little bit about me. I live in Maryland, just north of our nation's capital offices are actually in Washington, DC,

Unknown Speaker


have a dog, 2 cats.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


I got 2 kids and one in law school, one in college. And 30 years of marriage. What else do you need to know.

Jared Asch


you know, for the one Youtube visitor? They could see it, and for everybody else who's just listening in their car, you have more than 25 baseball base frame behind you. What are those? Cause? I'm I'm curious. Some good insight into you. Well, so interestingly enough, so I. It's not as present in this particular camera view, but lots of other parts of here in my study are

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


It's it's terribly evident that I am a wake forest demon, Deacon and today is college baseball opening day and and

the the deeks open at home against for them at 50'clock. Eastern I'm sure it's available somewhere, some way, shape or form, although folks, I'm sure, from like Cal State, Fullerton, and or whatever else they think they know baseball. But we've got quite the powerhouse back in miles. But these are all baseballs from minor league

stadiums across the country back when I was doing a lot of consultation work.

Particularly from sort of the May through sort of August timeframe. When I would be out I would go to Minor League baseball games. So many of them are from Minor League stadiums. I've got some from North Carolina, Hawaii, California, Iowa.

Minnesota, Canada.

couple couple of family trips are up there as well. But yeah, II decided to

have those. So that's that's that's where they come from.

Jared Asch


That's great. And as most of my sooners have figured out, I am a Florida state fan, so we like the demon deacons in most ways possible.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


Although we did. We did beat Bobby Bowden in his last home game.

Jared Asch


like the only time you ever be right, that 34 losses that you had in previous

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


well, and the demon deacons are now are, are part of the Acc. Who which the Atlantic Coast Conference now includes University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford. So 2 Bay Area school, so we will. Maybe you'll come out here for a game. There's some people at at Berkeley, or something. It'll be good. Excellent! That'd be great. Yeah, that'd be lovely.

Jared Asch


Okay, let's dive back into workforce ports. So

talk a little bit about

how do the local agencies work? And then I'll come back to the National Picture, but I want to frame it back locally, and there's

dozens and dozens in California, and almost every county in the Bay area has

their own, and we're gonna interview them at a later stage. But now talk about what is the local agency focus on a little bit more? And then we'll circle back to national stuff. Sure. Absolutely so, interesting enough. So in California

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


there actually are 45 local workforce boards.

There is also a State workforce Board, but in in to, you know, Sacramento and La and and Bakersfield, actually have a baseball for Bakersfield

there are so, there are local workforce boards. And these are entities. In every community authorized. Through a piece of federal legislation called the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity act, and their responsibility is to a, as I articulated, kind of at the onset

is to deeply understand what's happening in a local layer market.

And then bring together sort of the the various players in that ecosystem. If you would. Right education, business chamber, economic development

community colleges, community based organizations, the folks that all support the

supporting talent.

finding opportunity in that local economy. They bring together strategic programs to equip

talent based on what

the local businesses say that they need and then they facilitate partnerships. They can offer us various types of specialized training. And they are all.

they are these boards. The Local Workforce Board is created by

I referenced the the Federal legislation. It's known as Weoa in Weowa. It outlines that the chief local elected official appoints the Local Workforce Board, but 51% of the members of the Local Workforce Board have to be from the business community.

and then the other of the other folks on the board are. There's some State agencies State government agencies like in a, you know, a corresponding department of Labor or Health and Human services education, those kinds of things.

there is a there are also representations from labor, from community based organizations from there's state organization providing services to people with disabilities called vocational relation and a couple of other folks are sort of on there.

but the the chief elect local elected official appoints, all of those folks

and then they they in turn administer Federal programs, or

we call them title one programs. But therefore adults so the funds that flow into every community across the country to help adults find work. Are administered by this group of people.

and they oversee and it's it's labeled differently, Jared, in different states. But the America's job center network, which is a one stop system where, you know, if you're looking for work.

there is a physical location. And oftentimes there is also a virtual location where you can log into or go into and receive services to help you find work. And they're scattered all across the country. And the so these boards administer those and run those program or run those operations.

But if they're at, you know, I think probably most importantly. you know, for your audience. It's important to know that no matter what community that they're in, you know, in the State of California or in other markets

there are a group of people who are

focused. The laser focus on creating a local system that enables individuals in that community to become self-sufficient through work.

There's a group of people, same people, same conversation focused on how they can ensure that employers are having skilled workers

in order to compete in today's economy.

And a group of people are 100 dedicated to helping people who are unemployed or may feel underemployed to find different jobs or new career paths.

Jared Asch


So let's talk about that coalition that you talk about

right, and we'll look at it from a national perspective and break it down a little bit locally. How do labor chambers.

industry. community-based organizations, government?

Well, those groups don't get a lot right? Or they're just. They all have their own opinion.

How do you? How do they work through that? And then how do they tailor it locally? Right?

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


Yeah, so it's a great question. And it's the yeah. So this

the this current system that we have.

I get it dates back to the Manpower Development Act. From the sixtys

When there was a lot of turbulence in our economy. And the Federal Government felt like it needed to have an intentional role in helping

business and talent come together. It's actually at the Department Federal Department of Labor. It was what formed the employment and training Administration which is focused on this issue.

Over time.

Different pieces of legislation sort of all born out of that Manpower Development Act.

resulted in. Really, I quite candidly.

a a very fragmented system a bit to your point, Jared. They were each look like each group kind of had their own thing. I mean, they really didn't talk all that much, and they didn't really share resource or share strategy or think collectively together.

And so in 1998 the precursor to current law was passed called the Workforce Investment Act.

and in that act it established kind of the core structures of what we have today that said that all right at the state level, at the local level. All these entities need to come together at a table

and establish a local or state.


And so I think one of the key. The keys in response to your question, Jared, is. is the planning process that these local boards go through.

So because at the end of the day all of those entities which which you and I have talked about government business, you know, Chamber unions.

talent, development. You know the the education system, community-based organizations. They all want people to be working.

They all want right? I mean that that like that is the thing that unifies. Folks kind of in this conversation is that

and even more so now, right? We've got more openings in our economy job openings in our economy than we have people

and so like it. It is. Businesses are really feeling the need to to get talent. And so, if all of these entities have some part of that puzzle. Right? The Local Workforce Board is the place where all those puzzle pieces come together

and they work on a plan. Right? That's based on deep labor market analysis. Different sources of data from the Feds from the States. Private sector data is used to really understand what's happening in different. You know what's happening in our sort of area for economic development.

We're sort of what are the skill needs necessary for that. And then how do we align the resources that we have in our community

to best prepare people for those opportunities? And so you know, at its at its best.

The workforce system is not about any one particular program.

It's really about, how do we leverage these assets in our community to better prepare workers

for the opportunities that exist today, and that will come tomorrow.

And I think that when it works at its best, people really sort of put their label behind them.

and put the interest

of the of, you know, a folk looking for work, and quite candidly, of businesses looking to hire. You put that at the forefront and say, How do we help that happen? How do we help those groups come together more effectively and more efficiently? Then it works really, really well.

Jared Asch


that's that's helpful. Right? It's the common goal, right? That we want to put people to work and have the right workers.

How do

workforce boards, then keep up with the changing times, the advancement of AI coming into the workforce communications. I was in a Mastermind group this morning, and some of the people were complaining like they have clients hitting them up on 9 different forms of communications, right like, how do you prepare workers for any of that stuff or

right. It used to be okay. You gotta learn excel. Well, that was easy. Now, we're like a million different excels or crms.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


No, I mean, it's it's such a it's such a huge issue, right? And then different. And people experience that differently, too. Right? So you know, I think about think about those folks, you know, you know, 97% of the individuals who are currently incarcerated are gonna be released

right. And if you've been that, you know, that's when you look at Doj data, right? You could. That's, you know that that's a that's a reality. And if you've been in, if you've been incarcerated for

20 years. Right? The the way the world works is it's not just fundamentally different, like, it is transformationally different. Right? The iphone. I don't think the iphone was out 20 years ago.

like I had a pager when I started, and and and I got all excited in in 1,998 when I got when I got a blackberry.

And just just think about how different

sort of the way the world operates, and and from a worker perspective, the digital skill which is necessary like you're talking about excel, and

you know, and I mean, you can think about like coding and web design and all those kinds of things. But even simple things about interfacing like using an app on a phone.

right? What's an app? Right? And so you've got this big swath of people.

you know, and then you've got other folks that that that have struggled with digital literacy.

that there's a real impediment to being able to engage and participate in work. And so it is a big, big issue for us, Jared, I think, as a country

is, how are we going to? You know, how do we invest to build people's digital skills? It's all it is arguably as fundamental as the old like, when I was coming up right when I was in school. We had the 3 Rs. You know, reading, writing, and arithmetic right now, like

I mean, there's another component of that which is foundational to be able to participate in the economy which is digital skill. And I know there have been investments that Google and others have made in this space to try to bolster and build people's digital skills. And I'm really, really pleased. Actually.

in Congress, there's a bill that's been passed out of committee to reauthorize the Workforce and Innovation and Opportunity Act

called a stronger workforce for America Act. Anyway, in that there is a provision that

clearly outlines that part of the use of funds or adults or dislocated workers can be used to build digital skills.

when you know the current law was was passed in 2014 like that really wasn't an issue.

I mean it was. But it wasn't in the public discourse. The way that it is now. So I think more and more sort of systems are waking up. The reality of this is a big like this is a big issue, not just for individual workers, but arguably for our competitiveness as a country, we've got to have people who have these kinds of skills

for businesses to compete in a global economy

and cause whether you're you know you're selling stuff out of your garage or whether you're working for. Ibm like you're competing in a global economy. I mean, I mean, we buy, you know. I mean, you probably buy stuff from Etsy, from folks who are, you know in in Brazil.

right? So like, it is a global economy. And so how do people survive in that right? And and the workforce system, you know, has a stake in that and local workforce boards. I think you know, part of your question

goes to

like being really deeply connected to what's so to, and understanding what local businesses are really experiencing.

not just from a a a like a talent gap, like trying to hire people, but like what are the actual competencies that they need

to be able to be competitive in that kind of environment. like, what are the skills they need?

And then and then the board gets to think about. All right, then what do we have access to in our community, either in like on the ground, bricks and mortar, or virtually that can help people build those competency sets

to, if you know, to leverage those opportunities for work that are in our local economy. So really it it all. Quite candidly, Jared, you know, the core of the of the work is based on


It's about the so that the quantitative data. So all the stuff that gets released from the department labor or State Level Federal level whatever, but also the qualitative data right? Those conversations with members of the Chamber, with small business with.

you know, different sort of associations that may exist in a community, and deeply understanding through dialogue.

like, what are you dealing with. What are you thinking about? What are the skills and compasses that you need today? Not just today, but what you're gonna need tomorrow. Those are really really fundamental pieces of data that inform, then the building of a plan

and the orchestrating of resources in a community to help bridge that gap.

Jared Asch


It's. And so I'm gonna challenge all the listeners. If you know, without Googling it. When was the iphone invented? I will give email me, and I will give you a shout out on a future podcast. But I will tell people they answer before we leave this episode. As well. So actually, no, I'm not gonna tell you the the answer.

look it up.

Know it. If you know it without googling it hit me up and you'll get that shout out. So that will go that way. But you make my point, Jared. Right like Googling. It is now like, that's a verb.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


right? Right?

That's the that's part of the part of the part of the point, which is, I mean, it's really funny

Jared Asch



we'll link to that Federal bill that that Brad referenced as well in the show notes.

Brad, how

you you also talk about the employer hiring needs that there's not enough workforce now, because we're at a record low employment, and I remember an economics class and my Master's degree. They were talking about how 4 to 5 unemployment was like standard, because then you always had people to hire. That was a good number, but we've been at 3 or less.

or some fraction of it for a long time in this country. We've heard that a lot of the cities here right have openings, and it's it's gotten better over the last year of of as we've entered 2024 than it was at 2,022.

But how does that change

what the Workforce Board is doing? I was talking to a temp agency, CEO at and a chamber and luncheon the yesterday, and he said, no, we get a ton of work because people

want them to come back into their office, and they can't find workers.

And so they're happy to hire temp workers and temp working works in some people's schedules. Better.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


yeah, please share some thoughts around all of that. No, it's I mean, it's you know the the

you know. Pre 2020,

you know th the there were all kinds of I mean, both from a global perspective. And I think here domestically, when you think about the work that, like Oec

Oecd did has done.

when you look at the workplace for like Center at that time from, you know, 3, 2020 like everybody was talking about. So the the future of technology in the future work, and how it's going to create efficiencies. And all these kind of things. And all Covid did was just like accelerate us 10 to 15 years.

because we all had to figure out how to do this, how to work from home.

And so all those like it, just it, just it. We went through all a whole 10 year Cycle within a year and a half period in terms of technological advancements, and the way that the work happens. So you know you combine that with

people's priorities began to change a bit at, you know, through through those times. You know I've got, you know, my former employer. I had a colleague that

she had a po box, and she moved every quarter to a different city

and did an Airbnb


like that like that's just that's a fundamentally different way of working. And what I offer that Jared.

is that now? And you look at the rise and gig economy, the number of people who are involved in freelance activity. Not just this kind of, you know, sort of side hustle work. But actually to be. That's the way that they want to work. And you made the point right. Temp workers

connected to kind of a freelancing kind of space. Right? I believe that we are in a we that that covid accelerated the disruption that has been happening with the social contract between employers and employees.

And when you look at the core components, and you reference sort of the the the Keynesian sort of full employment being, you know? 3 to 4. And you're always gonna have this little gap of people right at the bottom.

yeah, the the the

similarly sort of the social contract that exists

from that

the the the Keynesian sort of perspective. You know. It was codified in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

which is passed in 1938, when our economy was based on you. Make a widget. and I pay you per widget that you made

like that was the core of the economy. And so it was a very straightforward social contract. You make this. I'll pay you that

now that is completely turned on its head

right? And you've even got. And I know that I mean, it's it's a it's a different level of resource. But you've got companies like Amazon that are actually intentionally talking to other employers in communities and saying, Hey, what are the skill sets that your workers are gonna need?

And we'll help our people through their own career choice programme.

Right? We'll help people build those skills on our dime. So when leave us, they can come to work for you like that is a fundamental, different approach

to the Social Contract. About what? What do I expect as an employee? And what will I give you as an employer? Right? It's just. It's very, very different. And so I think

you know the. The. So I number one. I think there's been this massive disruption, and that there is transformation happening in the social contract between employers and employees. Number one number 2.

I think that you know we are learning how you know different ways of working that are creating different types of opportunities for people. And our workforce board is in the space of how do we understand those newly emerging opportunities and help people build skills to be ready to leverage and take advantage of those new kinds of opportunities, particularly folks that may have had disadvantages in getting access to those opportunities in the first place.

right? And opening the door. And then, lastly, I would say, Jared, that you know when the Bureau Labor statistics at the Federal level the first Friday of the month they released unemployment data and


so hopefully in your Econ class, they talked about the fact that that is what is known as U, 3 data.

And so he's a very limited set of our population. Right? Those are people who within the last 6 months had been working and are currently and are currently actively looking for work.

You don't fit that definition. You're not included in any in the unemployment rate.

And there's a lot of people that have

dropped out

and they're not included in the unemployment rate. They dropped out during Covid. They dropped out part of the Great Recession, and never recovered. You have the great resignation that have right while these people, you know, leaving work and trying to find their own way. Right?

And so, you know, you're not counted in those numbers. You dropped out right? And so it doesn't account for the number of people that are transitioning out of a period of incarceration. It doesn't count for the number of individuals with disabilities that would be looking for work and want to work, but because of

asset limitations

for health insurance and social security can't work. It doesn't count. The number of people that are arguably sort of under employed

right? So when you look at

so so when you look at other data sets from the bureau labor statistics like U, 6 data.

You see that oftentimes

the U. 6 data which has a much bigger swath of the population.

Those unemployment rates tend to be about 2 to 3 x bigger than the U 3 rate.

So I think that's an important. Hopefully, II apologize. If that's a little technical for sort of the group.

But like that's an important piece of conversation that when those numbers come out at the beginning of the month on that Friday.

you know, I you know, it's you're not question that's valid. But you actually really need to understand the definition and say, Huh, who's not in that definition?

So what do we? What's the part of the story we're missing

because there are hidden workers out there that aren't included in that group right

subsequently or not subsequently. But additionally, I would say, Jared, you know there's there are groups.

con that continue in our country to not be able to have the access that other groups do

and so when you look at unemployment rates. the U 3 data within different groupings like American Indians. When you look at African Americans, when you look at people disabilities when you look at other groups.

but you'll see that there that there are gaps there.

And it it's a big issue. That, said

the numbers bear out right when, as boomers are retiring

and choosing to opt out of work like, there are big gaps between what employers?

The number of people they need and the number of people available.

That's true. But that's, I think, forcing ways companies to rethink the way work happens. Which then, I think, can create new kinds of opportunities for people. If the system is willing to lean in and help people build those conference sets.

Jared Asch



not such an

easy task ahead of of all those agencies. And II was somebody who resigned during the great resignation. And part of that was what you're talking about, right? That social contract with work changed. And I said, Okay, if I'm in this job and I've been there for 10 years at the same consulting firm.

Where am I gonna be in another 10 years, and are they helping me get prepared for it? And when I looked at it.

I was gonna be making, you know, maybe a 1.3 annual average pay bump. So not anything substantial, less than inflation has been by far? And I said, Okay, what skills do I wanna learn? Or how am I gonna grow? And how do I increase my income substantially? And that led me to

creating my own firm and my own business model. But I could see where that social contract had changed between me and my employer. They weren't doing anything. Putting the money aside to

to say, we want to empower Jared to be the best person that he can be, and I took that. And another example is, I remember when my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, I was. I've worked from home for a long time. I was the only dad on the playground for a Halloween costume party.

Then Covid hit. And now you go, and 2 thirds of the group are are dads are just a mix

thing because everybody can be flexible and work from home that day, and just 2 areas where I do it, as that social sort of change with the employer has has happened. And addressing that from a workforce board. No, it's it's it's a it's a

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


Yeah, I think it's an important. It's both a fascinating and an important discussion.

for for businesses to have. I mean, I think about it, you know, cause I'm I mean, I'm a small business.

I have 8, 9 people that work for me. And I have to think about those things right? What's what? What is the what is part of my social contract

beyond sort of the salary or wages that I'm offering. You know. There, there are other things that

that my employees expect or want out of this experience. And how do I afford that for? Not financially. But how do I create those experiences? cause. That's part of the

retention strategy

like I need to do that. So I can keep. You know, I can keep expertise. I can keep knowledge. I can grow knowledge and expertise and it helps my flywheel go faster. So I you know it's it's an important

it's an important discussion, and it's really.

you know.

But in a fret. What's interesting is that the like? The policy framework for that discussion dates back to 1938, and I don't. I don't have a lot of levers that I can pull

and, interestingly enough, like, even when you think about

like in the eighties when the the that I think it was 1986,


tuition reimbursement you you you receive, you know, tuition be reimbursement from an employer. And there was a and it wouldn't affect it could be pre-tax

you you wouldn't be taxed on the amount that the employer had allocated, for that was 5,250,

I think $85 or something. I think that's may not be good. Somebody can Google that.

but it's in the 5,200 range.

that number has not gone up since 1986, when it was established

that the amount of of that a company can have available


before an employee

like what like? Why not

like rising costs of Inca education, the Nu. The knowledge base? You know, the the knowledge that employers have, that I need to invest in my people to help build their skills and build their competencies? Right? That's the whole upscaling conversation like of the talent. But I've got. How do I grow them? Well

in the tax code like I'm operating under 1986 requirement.

Jared Asch


Well, Congressman, desalinate Congressman Swallow, I know some of your staff listens to this like like love, you guys, to weigh in on that issue and set up a conversation with Brad to to just talk about that. II also just argue with things like gas mileage reimbursement, right? Guess it.

And California versus New Jersey is, which has all the refineries there is substantially more right. Why do we get the same reimbursement for miles from a Central Irs agency? So I get what you're you're talking about. And hopefully, that example relates to everybody driving who's complaining about their mileage reimbursement. II wanna hit on

equity within that right. That's a huge word. Here in California is equity, inclusion and diversity, Dei, I did it backward. But talk about how workforce boards are tackling that maybe some best practices.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


Yeah. So yeah, another important part of the conversation, Jared. So I appreciate you raising it up. II think there's a couple of things that sort of workforce boards are are really doing in this space. Number one.

And, interestingly enough, we've been working with a group called Kale CAEL. The center for adult education leadership.

And have established both a master class. And now leadership cohorts and incorporating equity into your local workforce board operations to really help. So we've got some real leaders in this space. And but to help the rest of the workforce boards sort of have models about what it means to really incorporate equity into the way that you operate? So so we, you know we we know this is an important issue.

Secondly, I would say that you know, workforce boards now are at a place where

you know they're they're looking hard at. So all all these boards have to report data on the not just the services that they provided. But the the characteristics of the individuals receiving said services. Right? And so there's a inside what are known as workforce information systems.

But there is, there are concerted efforts to number one, get better quality of data and number 2 do better analytics on the data to look at. Where is the system over indexing or under indexing in terms of providing access and opportunity for all of our neighbors? And quite candidly, Jared, that's been a frame that I have really been leaning into about. This is about all of our neighbors.

Right? Because it's it's it's it's about, yeah. How does this system, which is a federal system that's supposed to support all of

all of us.

How does it actually support all of our neighbors? And in order to authentically do that. We need to understand how we're how we are supporting and engaging and providing

both access and opportunity for everybody that's in our neighborhood.

And I think that's an important frame. I know there's, you know, there's been

certainly, after

you know, the the issues around race and and gender equity. Lgbtq plus issues. And those are significant pieces. My concern is that in the discourse

that we lose sight of the individual, the people.

and from a workforce system perspective that our responsibility is to help again, all of our neighbors

find access to opportunity into career growth.

Right? That that's what we exist to do. And so I know. You know there are some so corporate entities which are backing away from Dei kind of work and the language, and whatever else. But to me in a lot of ways.

I remember.

So I

I was working for actually. So it was my early days with goodwill. When the transition from the Clinton Administration to the Bush administration right and overnight, magically, somehow, the digital divide went away

and like it didn't.

But people got caught up in the language, but the circumstance was there

right. And you know, earlier this year.

I have family in West Tennessee. I have a cousin who posted a picture of a work crew

in this little town called Lexington, Tennessee.

It's near Buck Snort and Bellbuckle. Alright. So that's that's the size of town we're talking about. She posted picture of some workers at a utility pole, running cable

and broadband, was finally getting to Lexington, Tennessee.


this was, and we were talking about digital divide in the 90 S.


you know, earlier in well, I guess it was 2,023 one earlier this year. So in late 2023 in the fall, 2,023, broadband finally got to Lexington, Tennessee.

So I mean, when when you get caught up in the the language and the I think it. It distracts from the actual


Right? And those people in Lexington need access to economic opportunity and businesses need access to those people who live in Lexington, because there's talent and skill there. right? And Broadband is critical to make that happen.

And and so, anyway, II offer that as kind of a an example of why.

I think it's really important. Certainly, from an awb perspective, absolutely issues around equity and understanding? How is our system doing in serving different segments of our population and creating access? Are we over indexing certain places? Are we under indexing certain places? How do we make sure? But at the end of the day it's about, how are we making sure that all of our neighbors

are being able to participate hopefully in what we like to call economic vitality in communities. So

Jared Asch


that appreciate those those thoughts. And and the story.

because I think it just paints a picture of where things are missing on people's minds. Talk about employers working with these agencies and looking for employees.

How do companies that have needs engage with workforce boards. How can they better engage their employees in ongoing

training once they're there. Just look at that perspective. How can we absolutely what role does the employers have in workforce development?

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


Yeah. So I mean, I think it. I mean, they're they're they're at the end of day. I mean, they're sort of the linchpin customer. Right? I mean that it's it's to be able to help them get talent. So I have a couple of sort of thoughts on that front. Number one.

you know, engaging with the Local Workforce Board, you know, and and

and there's a for California. There's an easy way to find all your workforce boards through the California Workforce Association. It's you can Google that and and find it very quickly. You can also go to career one stop org, which is the Federal site which will help you find those things to find the contact.

But it's a you know. It's as simple as a phone call to the Local Board and say, Hey, I want to get involved. And I'm interested. II have talent needs Number One or I and or I. I'd like to get involved in certain ways. And I think there's a couple of suggestions on that front. Workers. Boards will. Oftentimes they'll organize. Industry led capacity building groups.

So within the healthcare sector, right? So you run a

you know. A

an in-home nursing support company

right? With certified nursing assistants and and some rns, and those kinds of things. Right? So they they bring everybody together in the healthcare industry and say, okay.

how do we think about talent growing talent in the healthcare industry in our region.

and have the whole sector talk about that together and think about leveraging assets in a fundamentally different type of way to build the talent that's needed. So that's one number 2. Local boards are a great place for small businesses to get involved in

in creating working and learning experiences for people in the community

right through on the job training through internships arguably, even through apprenticeship program accessing those your apprenticeships popping up in all kinds of sectors and workforce boards can help make that happen. But I think that's another critical and important way that

small business, particularly through on the job training, where the workforce board is actually able to pay part of wages. And even in transitional job, what we call transitional jobs where people are building certain composite sets, the workforce board is able to offset wages for that time with individuals working for you.

Third, we do have workforce boards that create that that work together with with industry to do talent development projects so very specifically targeted. So they'll work. They'll work together with a community college or with an institution of higher education and with certain industry sectors and say, okay, we're going to go hard on welders.

Right? We're gonna we're we're gonna concerted effort to increase the number of welders in our community. How do we leverage all these kinds of things together. But let industry really drive that, and the workforce board is able to to catalyze and coordinate resource to help support that happen?

and then, you know, fundamentally you know, our workforce board is a place where you can. You know a small business can improve its outreach and recruitment strategies as it's looking for talent.

They do job fairs all over the place. And bringing employers. Matter of fact, I'm gonna be in El Paso next week, and they're having a reverse job fair where where employers, their job seekers gonna be in the middle and employers gonna go around them and and interview them right. But anyway, there, there's lots of different strategies. We have a board, a workforce board in in Las Vegas

that actually a business. It's a he. He's a small business owner. On the gym workout facility. And he has a a youth center in

that the workforce board operates inside his gym.

And so, kids, that both who are in school and those who might not be who have

not found their way successfully in school or out of school. Youth. They come. They come to this gym and receive services to help them get back either into school or into education, or into work. Because he believes in the value of of what a workforce system or what workforce board can do in a community. And he's able to source his own talent from that group as well. But anyway, there's there's

and you know, at at the base of it, all right is if you're a small business owner or you're a hiring manager, and you're struggling to find people you can reach out to your local workforce board, and they can help you with recruitment.

Jared Asch


I appreciate that. Before we finish up here. My last question for everybody is, is, what else haven't I asked. Are there any big initiatives you're working on anything? Any other messages you want to share before we head out. Yeah. So just 1 one thing just to put up.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


you know, for for your audience.

that, I think, is an an interesting it. And it connects back, Jared, so that we would talk about. So the evolution of Social Contract conversation, right? So one of the things that you we really have begun to deeply understand. Is that

so I mentioned I went to wake Forest right? I have a degree in sociology and economics, and I happen to remember some of the Keynesian stuff, but in general, like.

I really don't use my college degree all that much. And so it it begs the question in the hiring process about what it like. Really, what do degrees

and credentials communicate? And are there better ways for talent

to be able to show. These are my competencies to you as a, as a, as a business that can help create value for you and as a business operator, right? How do I

do all the jobs that I have

actually require a college degree?

Or is it a better exercise for me to really deeply understand the competencies and skills that are needed in a particular job. And so there's a lot of there's a lot of percolation right now in a in the conversation around skills based or skills first hiring

and advancement

where? It. It's it's sort of transforming the way again, that talent and business are able to communicate with one another to reach agreement, to come together and do something. And how do you? And what's required?

What would be required to really rethink the way that in essence supply and demand come together in the hiring process. And what are those feeder systems? And how can we? You know.

And how can our economies be be transformed?

if it's a skills based type conversation versus a degree based conversation. Because there's also a good bit of data out there that that, I think, does point to that to.

you know, skewing to certain segments in our population that have been able to access degrees, but others can't. And so people are blocked out of opportunity. And so, you see, States, I think there are 14 States now, 13 States that have dropped cause degree requirements for a number of positions within State hiring processes.

When you look at, you know, you've got big companies that are exploring like that similar type of transformation.

and and and changing the way that they assess and understand talent and and what they're looking for as a mechanism to understand what talent can bring to them. And and I think that's really, I think it's really, really interesting. And quite candidly, Jared, I think it's it's actually a more equitable way of having a conversation and understanding talent and business needs

and what talent can bring and what business needs. I think it's a it it it. It opens the door to many, many more people. Well, we've got a lot of work to do in that space. I think both is workforce boards, and then, I think, more broadly as an economy to really understand what it's going to take to transform

the way hiring an advancement happens. cause this happens. You know, this way for so long. There's some real institutional and sort of systemic inertia in the space. But I think it's a really important conversation, and one I hope that your listeners will Google and and learn about and explore and how they might be involved in that conversation.

Jared Asch


Great. I appreciate that. We will link to the National Association as well as the all the local workforce boards there are, I think 7 in the 9 counties, under the under sort of a bag, or Mtc. Jurisdiction with everybody but Marin and Napa, I think, having their own independent ones.

Brad Turner-Little, NAWB


So so we'll put those links and we'll interview a couple of them later this year. So Brad Turner, little National Association of Workforce Boards. I really appreciate your time today.

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