Task Force Recommendations
2023 Emerging Issues Forum: Talent First Economics
Systems are difficult to navigate.
Make workforce support and other resources more accessible to those transitioning out of the justice system.
1A. Review and update existing resources. Ensure that people with lived experience and organizations working with these populations are leading the review process.
1B. Invest in community health workers with specialized training with justice-involvement that can help navigate the systems and support greater inter-agency partnerships.
1C. Ensure that trusted support services are located close to employers and workforce development organizations in order to influence and advocate for accessible, relevant services and resources.
Workforce re-entry programs are under resourced.
Increase the capacity of organizations that support the justice-involved.
2A. Centralized grant-subgrant models in which community-based organizations can secure grant funding to award subgrants to smaller re-entry programs. Organizations with the capacity to manage grant funding could develop funding relationships that facilitate and provide infrastructure lacking in smaller counterparts.
2B. Funding should be made available to local re-entry councils to initiate pilot programs, led by people with lived experience, focusing on gaps in services and building capacity.
Public safety fears limit opportunities.
Reframe the justice-involved narrative as a public health issue through education, training and public information campaigns.
3A. Use people-first language rather than impersonal institutional or sociological language.
3B. Educate direct service providers, corrections staff, business leaders and decision makers on issues facing justice-involved by those with lived experience.
Systemic bias limits access to meaningful work.
Foster an “employment first” mindset to transform culture through inclusion in schools and in the workforce. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment First centers on the premise that all individuals, including those with the most significant disabilities, are capable of full participation in Competitive Integrated Employment and community life.
1A. Expand pathways and provide access to specialized training, upskilling, reskilling and apprenticeships.
1B. Increase funding for individualized services that help identify and connect individuals with internships, apprenticeships and jobs that leverage skills and expertise in a meaningful way.
Employers need workers, and individuals with disabilities/neurodiversity need jobs, but they’re not connecting.
Reframe employer education as employer/industry partnerships.
2A. Provide ongoing information and guidance about support services, mental health awareness, identifying career pathways, and matching job skills with employer needs. Tailor information to the needs of employers, individuals and families to improve outcomes.
2B. Establish peer-to-peer partnerships among employers to reduce the demand on any one employer.
2C. Consolidate supports/point of contact to ease navigation of support services for disabled/neurodiverse employees.
Develop workforce ecosystems and collaborative partnerships with employers.
3A. Develop statewide disabled/neurodiverse employment ecosystems and create accelerators for skills development.
3B. Convene consortiums at the local level to connect businesses with disabled/ neurodiverse job seekers.
3C. Curate conversations between support services organizations and businesses around employer needs, opportunities and employment success stories.
3D. Nurture relationships between support organizations and HR officers to help connect disabled/neurodiverse job seekers with employment opportunities.
3E. Understanding intersectionality of these groups, leverage existing local service providers to support the needs of multiple populations.
Workers with disabilities/neurodiversities do not have the support they need to pursue and maintain employment.
Increase the capacity to deliver wrap-around support services through community health workers, job coaches, peer support specialists, and other workers that meet specific needs of those with disabilities (e.g., transport providers).
4A. Fund support services over a longer period of time and in a more effective and efficient manner.
4B. Reimburse agencies that hire Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP) job coaches.
4C. Integrate community health workers to address issues not traditionally related to employment, such as medication management.
4D. Elevate the job coach profession. Recognize that the work requires training and better pay, adding value and resources to those jobs so they are compensated accordingly and can make a career of being a job coach.
4E. Tailor funding to client needs and make resources more flexible.
The workforce system can be difficult to navigate.
Implement a network of “community navigators” who establish trust with opportunity youth and help them develop critical life skills.
1A. Identify and review state and nationally recognized certified community health worker and success coach programs that can provide scalable models for credentialing navigators and advocates.
Limited alternative career pathways for opportunity youth.
Develop and integrate workforce certification programs into high school curricula to link students to alternative career opportunities upon graduation.
2A. Now that certifications are legal to obtain during the school day, bring community college training to high schools to make it easier for youth to gain critical skills and credentials.
Lack of exposure to career opportunities that are interesting and engaging to opportunity youth.
Expand job and career shadowing programs tailored for opportunity youth.
3A. Develop a model that meets youth where they are, such as summer camps (elementary school), job shadowing programs (middle school) and workplace learning programs (high school).
3B. Engage opportunity youth around their needs and their vocational aspirations; evolve traditional education accordingly.
3C. Materials and resources promoting these job opportunities, education and workforce initiatives should be marketed in a way that attracts opportunity youth, and led by young people.
Transitioning Military & Families
Excess of programs (“sea of goodwill”) that can make it difficult to know which services will provide the greatest benefit.
Create a comprehensive online portal/guide to support services available to service members and their families, during and post transition.
1A. Consolidate information about all available resources in one portal and make it easier for people to conveniently access resources.
1B. Develop a marketing campaign for reaching veterans and their families.
1C. Leverage existing state resources and partnerships to bring awareness of these resources within the education and workforce system and encourage enhanced collaboration.
1D. Identify resources to manage inventory and quality of resource materials on an ongoing basis.
Employers need workers, and transitioning military & spouses need jobs—but they’re not connecting.
Expand workforce development programming that provides industry connections and mentorship to transitioning military and their families.
2A. Enhance business engagement services within the local workforce boards and seek out promising practices from other communities.
2B. Continue to identify industries that need talent, and develop connections with employers.
2C. Increase funding for workforce ecosystem development activities that promote connections, shared resources, and community collaboration.
2D. Expand industry-led workforce development programs and training, and promote pathways through specialized training for veterans and spouses.
2E. Engage nonprofits that work with industries to expand programming and partnerships that provide employer connections and mentorship to transitioning military and their families.
2F. Work with employers, the UNC system and community colleges to honor and expedite transfer processes for skills, certifications, and licenses earned by military service members and spouses—across state lines and the private sector.
Biases and assumptions about military service members that limit opportunity.
Leverage career pathways as a way to reframe the need to prioritize improvements to long-term behavioral health outcomes for military service members.
3A. Increase funding for public awareness initiatives that provide information to employers about the experiences of veterans and encourage support for effective behavioral health services for veterans in need.
3B. Provide employers with appropriate, trauma informed training specific to language and behaviors.
3C. Increase employer awareness of transferable skills beyond one’s military job to avoid bias from “type casting” that limits opportunity. While a Veteran may have had a certain role (e.g., tank driver), they also have leadership, communication and other skills that they can bring to a civilian role.
3D. Incentivize employers to develop employee resource groups that provide peer support.
Families with Young Children
Lack of access to high-quality, equitable, and affordable child care and lack of family-friendly workplace supports such as paid leave for working parents, especially those in low(er)-wage jobs.
Convene state-level stakeholders to consider opportunities to position North Carolina as the “good jobs, good families” state, through investigating economic development programs that incentivize employers to support families in their workforce.
1A. Pilot economic development incentive programs for employers that provide family-friendly beneﬁts such as paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and flexible work while continually working toward an ultimate goal of long-term public policy changes that ensure programs are available to all workers, regardless of employer.
1B. Have state and local governments lead in the adoption of family-friendly policies, such as, but not limited to, paid parental leave for existing state employees.
1C. Ensure that materials regarding one’s rights in the workplace are culturally appropriate, well-translated, and easy to find in Spanish and other dominant languages.
1D. Ensure that materials regarding how to apply for child care programs (e.g., PreK), subsidies and other resources, etc are culturally appropriate, well-translated and easy to find in Spanish and other dominant languages.
Leverage local partnerships to support administrative cost-sharing models for child care providers (e.g., bookkeeping, teacher training, the discounts on large supply orders, etc).
2A. At the local level, assess the administrative needs of child care homes and centers to determine opportunities for shared services.
Leverage existing, underutilized, physical assets (i.e., classrooms, prep kitchens, outdoor play areas, buildings, etc.) to support existing (and closed) child care programs and identify opportunities to open others. Public-private partnerships should be prioritized for investigation.
3A. Locally, leverage and engage faith-based communities, nonprofit, and community organizations in the delivery of child care and early childhood education services and leverage underutilized assets such as buildings that can be retro-fitted into child care centers and buses that are available most of the week.
There is a shortage of child care educators and providers, with few entering the field, due to low wages and extensive responsibilities.
Address salary and wage inequality for early childhood educators.
4A. Create more opportunities to lift up ongoing efforts to address inadequate compensation for the early childhood workforce (e.g., sample salary scale, raising the subsidy market rate, TEACH, WAGE$, and AWARD$ programs, etc.) with business and economic development supporters whose success relies upon the availability of a workforce who needs child care
4B. Research child care models in other states and locally in NC and test them as a precursor to creating a sustainable business model where the child care workforce is paid their worth and care is available and affordable to families in need across NC.
4C. Address regulations that are barriers to child care programs, especially for home child care providers.
4D. Allow state funding to be used to support licensure for home-based child care programs.
Build the pipeline of dual language early learning educators entering the field.
5A. Ensure that every county has English as a Second Language and/or Dual Language Learning resources.
5B. Partner with local Spanish-language media and other non-English media on stories about available child care and resources and to help promote these education programs.
- Make resources more accessible and relevant
- Create comprehensive career pathways that meet the needs of businesses and underrepresented groups
- Invest in the workforce behind the workforce
- Create new funding models that make it easier for service providers to meet the unique needs of underrepresented populations
- Create opportunities for peer-peer learning among employers, workforce developers, and service providers
- Co-locate trusted service providers with workforce services to more effectively influence the support providers to meet the needs of underrepresented individuals.