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Institute for Emerging Issues

IEI Launches Talent First Economics Task Force

Eleven adults sit or stand around a table, discussing an issue together. The room is full of other tables of people.

Workforce development efforts have traditionally focused on the needs of employers. The Institute for Emerging Issues’ (IEI) Talent First Economics initiative is transforming this notion and examining ways to help workers find employment and stay engaged in the workplace. 

As part of the 2023 Emerging Issues Forum, IEI has convened a task force to examine what it will take to connect workers to the workforce; particularly the following groups who have faced challenges historically, systematically, or due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Families with young children
  • Transitioning military veterans and their families
  • Justice involved
  • Opportunity youth (ages 16-24, not in school or working)
  • Those with disabilities/neurodiversity

The Talent First Economics Task Force is made up of 71 experts, including employers who have hired workers from these groups, nonprofits working directly with these communities, and employees and others with lived experience in these areas. Leading the task force are IEI’s Practitioner-in-Residence Philip Cooper and NCWorks Commission Executive Director Annie Izod. 

“The more we can diversify, educate, and train our workforce, the better our future communities and our economy will be,” said Izod.

During the task force’s first meeting on September 9, members divided into groups and took an initial deep dive into the challenges and barriers the groups they represented faced when looking for employment and staying engaged in the workplace. 

“From the need for reliable and affordable childcare options and transportation, to helping civilian hiring managers understand how military experience translates into real-world skills, there are multiple challenges faced by workers who want to enter or grow in the workforce,” said IEI Interim Director Sarah Langer Hall. “This committed task force will bring these issues to a larger stage and ultimately make employment opportunities more accessible for more North Carolinians.”

Additional meetings will take place in the coming months where task force members will identify ways to break down these barriers. At their final meeting, the task force will finalize a list of recommendations that will be presented at the 2023 Emerging Issues Forum on Monday, February 13, 2023 in Raleigh. 

Learn more about Talent First Economics.

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