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Regional Workforce Coalition Executive Summary
 
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Rooted in discussions between David Lucien of the Virginia Technology Council and Jane Shaab of the Greater Baltimore Committee's Technology Council in late 1996, a coalition of business groups in the urban regions from Baltimore, Maryland to Hampton Roads, Virginia came together to address the growing need for knowledge- or technology-oriented workers in these communities. Despite diverse perspectives and objectives, the members of the coalition -- alternately called the Regional Workforce Coalition or the Mid-Atlantic Workforce Alliance -- share several common characteristics:
  • All are focused on building a larger supply of knowledge workers to meet Workforce needs of the member companies or regional constituencies.
  • Each group has in place, or is establishing, a Workforce committee, task force or working group to oversee their work program.
  • Each group has developed, or is developing, a detailed agenda for completing specific tasks over the next one to five years.
  • Each group believes the business community must and can take a leadership role in formulating effective solutions to their community's Workforce needs.
Recognizing the need to coordinate and collaborate limited resources to solve their common problems, the current participating organizations (listed below) held a Regional Workforce Coalition Meeting on April 18 at the Northern Virginia campus of the Virginia Tech-University of Virginia Graduate Center. The purpose of the meeting was to:
  • Begin information exchange among the business community to encourage greater knowledge about perceived problems as well as to help identify constituency focus.
  • Forge common messages, focus, and vision within the business community to ensure a consistent message to other stakeholders in the community – educators, trainers, students, parents and elected or appointed decisions makers.
  • Identify possible areas for collaboration or coordination that would allow more efficient use of resources at all levels (inter-regional and intra-regional).
After an overview of each organization's definition of the problem, activities to date, and several breakout sessions providing in-depth discussions on various aspects of the knowledge worker demand crisis, participants at the April 18 meeting reached consensus on the following key messages:
  1. There exists a sense of urgency to implement credible solutions to meet immediate and long-term Workforce needs for our constituencies, particularly for knowledge workers for the growing development and implementation of technology in our economies. The region will suffer slower or negative growth if the need for knowledge workers with existing and expanding companies cannot be met. Maintaining and improving our pool of highly educated workers is critical to the regions ability to compete in today's global economy.
  2. Business, educators, trainers, and policy makers must act together and commit to dedicating resources to solve the issue of increasing the pool of knowledge workers into the communities represented by the members of the Coalition.
  3. Major transformation within the workplace, as well as within technology, require a new paradigm for how the Workforce is prepared for the new corporate environment. The rapid development and use of technology requires life long learning from individuals.
  4. Continued assessment of the diverse systems producing workers for area companies, and an infrastructure that provides resources and programs for the long term are needed. Communities can no longer rely on "business as usual" when assessing not only workplace skills needed, but how residents can acquire the skills and knowledge needed to meet the 21st century.

The Potomac KnowledgeWay took a leadership role to facilitate the Regional Workforce Coalition meeting and will continue to provide project management of the overall efforts to ensure ongoing communication and action plan development.

Members of the Regional Workforce Coalition include:

Other participating members:

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