Workforce development – a commonly tossed around buzz word – but what exactly is it and what does it look like here in Indiana? For nine months, four former and current Extension educators each spent over 150 hours deeply embedded in learning about workforce development, its challenges and opportunities for improvement. In this post, I’m going to briefly share my experiences.
As a part of the inaugural class of the Coaching Corps, it was an honor to be selected. The program is targeted towards career coaches, folks who work with individuals seeking to be employed. Our fellow cohort attendees included several representatives from the Department of Workforce Development offices (otherwise known as WorkOne), Goodwill Excel Education Centers, FSSA, JAG, Ivy Tech, high school counselors, non-profit centers and more. To be honest, I almost felt a little out of place since Extension Educators don’t necessarily work one-on-one with job seekers. However, we do work with communities seeking to bolster their workforce and we do provide programming benefiting current and future employees.
Over the course of 9 months, our goal was to learn about the future of work, work within action teams to propose potential solutions for the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet (and learn about high performing teams), engage in professional development training on coaching others and becoming Dare to Lead trained. We had five two-day retreats throughout the state of Indiana. Outside of the retreats, there were three areas of engagement: individual professional coaching sessions by one of the Dare to Lead trainers (up to 8 sessions), action team meetings and optional coaching corps group calls. At the final retreat, each team presented their final presentation to a panel made up of various Workforce Cabinet members. Our team recommended the state enact the following: an universal application for individuals that would automatically refer them to additional services, as needed; standardized onboarding and professional development system for all DWD partner agencies; stronger requirements for training providers to effectively train job seekers and develop a one-stop website for career coaches to find all the resources geared to help them do their job well.
Personally, this was a worthy investment of my time and energy. Walking into the program, I thought I had some understanding of Indiana’s workforce development system. Needless to say, I learned a tremendous amount and have a better awareness of how Extension can be a better partner to the existing system. Time invested in the corps also yielded networks (and friends!) with new colleagues throughout the state, a better emotional intelligence awareness of myself and a greater appreciation for the role of coaches – both career and community-minded.
If you are interested in learning more about workforce development, then this program is for you! The 2020 cohort will likely begin in March, thus applications will be available in January. If you have any questions, please reach out to Tanya Hall or Patty Keating to learn more!
Tanya Hall is a community development regional educator for Purdue University Extension. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Patty Keating is a community development educator in Porter County. She can be reached at email@example.com.