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Director's Log

Interim Director’s Log | August 2022

Sarah Langer Hall headshot
IEI Interim Director Sarah Langer Hall

A Different Kind of Workforce Analysis for North Carolina

Okay, I admit it; I get easily excited about interesting data, especially when it comes to North Carolina’s workforce. I become absolutely giddy when a new blog post is published by the NC Commerce LEAD Feed (you can also experience this joy by clicking here) or when the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise’s Chief Economist, Gerald Cohen, provides a new update or economic briefing. I also love hearing about the success stories highlighted by the NC Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Workforce Competitiveness or the workforce innovation bright spots curated by the ncIMPACT Initiative. We’re fortunate to have so many organizations and experts in North Carolina gathering and disseminating this important data.

It’s always important to be on the right side of history. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a lot and created the realization that everyone has value to add as long they’re embraced, treated equitably, and afforded equal opportunity.

–Raheed Sanders, Abound Health

While a lot of great information already exists, there is still more to learn–and unlearn–about the state’s workforce needs if we are going to remain competitive in an increasingly global, mobile and diverse economy.

On September 9, we will kick off our Task Force on Talent First Economics to explore and prioritize recommendations that leaders can take action on now, and in the future, to grow North Carolina’s talent supply. With a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, we’ll explore the needs of North Carolinians who have faced workforce challenges historically, systematically, or due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will examine the barriers that make it difficult for these workers to find employment, stay in the workplace or work for themselves. With an increased understanding of what employees are looking for, and how systems can respond, we can better locate, energize, equip and unleash North Carolina’s abundance of talent.

We have operated for a long time with an economic system that relies on a workforce we will never have again. The Baby Boomer generation will never be matched in size or workforce participation. This means we need creative solutions, that we need to build capacity in each worker, and that we need to be ready to remove barriers that were not historically supported in workforce development like recovery services, soft skills training, financial barriers, and more.

Ariana Williamson, Wilkes Recovery Revolution, INC., Recovery Friendly NC

The task force is co-chaired by Change Agent Philip Cooper and Annie Izod. Phillip Cooper, a workforce developer from Western NC, is an expert by experience—knowing first-hand the challenges faced by under-connected workers. Annie Izod is the executive director of the NC Works Commission, a group tasked with recommending policies and strategies that enable the state’s workforce and businesses to compete in the global economy. Cooper and Izod are both workforce champions with a deep understanding of the state’s workforce challenges and opportunities. They will lead a task force made up of representatives with current or recent lived experience with the underrepresented workforce populations and those with systems-level expertise.

Upon completion of the task force, the draft recommendations will be disseminated widely for review and critical feedback, including during the February 13, 2023 Emerging Issues Forum. A final report will be disseminated by March 31, 2023.

…why would anyone oppose employability of a willing body, in an economy experiencing an economic downfall due a decline in workforce participation?

Corey Purdie, Wash Away Unemployment Inc

I hope I’ve piqued your interest and that you’ll follow our progress across the next several months, provide constructive feedback on our output, and help us create a set of actionable strategies that will move more people from the sidelines into livable wage jobs. 

Thanks in advance!