Task force releases recommendations for connecting underutilized workers to jobs
North Carolina’s Labor Force Participation Rate has not fully rebounded from pre-pandemic levels. The good news is there are talented North Carolinians throughout the state who are ready and willing to work. Unfortunately, they face historic and systemic barriers to finding and securing employment.
The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University convened a task force in fall 2022 to identify tangible ways leaders can address the needs of potential workers so they can enter and succeed in the workforce. Their recommendations are now available in the Talent First Economics Recommendations Report.
An advisory committee helped IEI narrow down the following five groups for the purposes of the task force and recommendations report. The task force recognizes that many underrepresented workers identify with more than one of these groups, or with groups not listed here:
- Justice-Involved Persons
- Individuals with Disabilities/Neurodiversity
- Opportunity Youth (ages 16-24, not in school and not working)
- Transitioning Military and their Families
- Families with Young Children
The Task Force on Talent First Economics was supported by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration; it was led by IEI Practitioner-in-Residence Philip Cooper and NCWorks Commission Executive Director Annie Izod. More than 70 experts served on the task force, including those with lived experience in the five identified groups, those with a deep understanding of the workforce system, employers who have hired workers from these five groups and nonprofits working directly with these communities.
“Having the right people at the table from the start is crucial for forming and influencing effective policy,” said IEI Director Sarah Langer Hall. “There was a lot we already knew about these North Carolinians and their needs, but there was also a lot to learn, and unlearn, when it comes to their workforce potential.”
Together, the task force developed an initial set of recommendations that leaders can take action on to grow North Carolina’s talent supply. The recommendations were presented at the 2023 Emerging Issues Forum and again during a series of virtual webinars. The full report can be viewed here.
In addition to sharing these recommendations widely, IEI is supporting five regional groups of community and economic development leaders across NC who will move a set of recommendations forward locally starting in fall 2023.