Today was the first day of the CA Workforce Association's annual Meeting of the Minds conference in Monterey, CA. I was able to catch the session, "Convening Conversations with Customers and Stakeholders: A Case Study" put on by John Baker of Strategies for the Future and Steven Currie of the San Francisco Mayor's Office for Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD).
For those of you unfamiliar with workforce issues in San Francisco, over the last year there has been a major overhaul of the system, including shutting down their PIC and moving all WIA administration to the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Also recently, OEWD put out a Request for Proposals for all WIA services.
As part of their strategic planning process, the staff conducted an environment scan and undertook an ambitious series of focus groups and surveys with employers, residents, and service providers. Given the politics of San Francisco, they had to be certain that they were inclusive of all groups - different sectors, business sizes, neighborhoods, age groups, and other special interests.
Among their key findings - employers continue to emphasize the need for soft skills. Almost $72 million in public funding is being invested into San Francisco's workforce development system, only $12 million of which is WIA. And there are 294 workforce service providers, including 198 CBOs, 40 union apprenticeship programs, 27 governmental agencies and 29 post secondary educational institutions. Because of the huge number of players, workforce service providers in San Francisco feel disconnected from each other and want to collaborate more closely so that they can create a more systematic approach to the work.
Through these focus groups and surveys, the OEWD staff hoped to begin a conversation to build more productive relationships with stakeholders, leading to more strategically connected and aligned resources and a more performance driven system. It's a daunting task, but they should be lauded for showing leadership and taking some major foundational steps to achieving their goals.
For more information about the good work happening in San Francisco, you can email them here.