Biggest Takeaways from R.E.D Talk: The Future of the Talent Ecosystem in LA County

On January 25th, LAEDC hosted our latest R.E.D Talk, at Cross Campus South Bay, where entrepreneurs and innovators discussed the challenges of cultivating a diverse and inclusive but also productive workforce.  Here are some of the biggest takeaways and what you missed.

An Open and Inclusive Forum for Change

An expert panel discusses their workforce solutions and strategies while also fielding questions from the audience.

The conversation included voices from local business, academia, and banking. However, what was apparent from the very start of the conversation: the room included a unique variety of participants, many of whom still shared common goals when it came to diversity and inclusion. In fact, not only did it seem that many of the ideals of diversity inclusion we’re shared across different industries, there is a desire even from macro-level players to directly assist in accomplishing those shared goals. “We want to have a seat at the table,” exclaimed Justin Wong, Senior Vice President, Commerical Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, “ an organization it is important us to participate in these types of events and make a positive impact on our region’s economic future.”

How Can We Accelerate the Talent Pipeline?

Jessica Ku Kim, Director of Workforce Development, LAEDC

One exciting topic discussed by Jessica Ku Kim, Director of Workforce Development at the LAEDC, was the concept of “regional industry alignment” which is the concept of intermediaries like workforce development boards and the LAEDC assisting businesses, colleges and universities in the many layers of the development process. An unbiased third-party can help quell some of the challenges faced by those on both the supply and demand side of workforce development.

All businesses would agree, that although diversity is a goal, hiring practices need to continue to be talent-driven versus an act of charity. “At the LAEDC what we start with the data, said Jessica Ku Kim, Director of Workforce Development at the LAEDC. “We want to do the analysis and utilize that to help inform the decisions of our partners”.  By providing a unifying and unbiased voice to Los Angeles’ business, industries, colleges, and universities, the LAEDC hopes to streamline the process of building a strong and versatile workforce that anticipates the presence of automation and other shifting factors in the workplace

Showcasing the Best in Applied Economics

Shannon Sedgewick, Senior Economist, Institute for Applied Economics, LAEDC

In a continuing series of industry deep-dive reports, the Center for a Competitive Workforce (CCW) recently released Professional Services in the Los Angeles Basin, which forecasts that by 2021 there will be just under 400,000 payroll jobs in professional services in the LA Basin (LA and Orange Counties combined), resulting from the nearly 14,000 new jobs created from the baseline year of 2016. Nearly half of projected total job openings –over  6,300 – will be in middle-skill occupations that generally pay well and are accessible with less than a bachelor’s degree. Shannon Sedgwick, a co-author of the 2018 Professional Services Report, provided an overview of findings, click here to download the report!

We all want a more diverse workforce…but how? 

Being an equal opportunity employer isn’t enough. Especially for certain industries with an immediate need or high skill requirements, diversifying their workforce is no simple task. “I don’t know if many of you are familiar with the Silver Tsunami, but over 30% of our workforce in the utility industry will be retiring in the next five years,” said Tammy Nguyen, Talent Aquisition Manager, California Water Service Group.  “Traditionally, the utility industry was generally white and male for a long time,” said Jessica Ku Kim, who also moderated the panel. “As that industry is retiring, how does a company like California Water address those significant challenges associated with finding the right talent and cultivating new talent?”

Audience members take in presentations from industry experts.

“What we have done as a company,” Mrs. Nguyen replied, “is we partner with local colleges such LATT, Santiago College, Ventura College, and local high schools, where we offer internship and work-study opportunities.” “One internship program we have been offering for the past three years,” she continued, “we have a partnership with underprivileged students, where pay their tuition in full and they got to school for four days and work at Cal. Water for one during the week. We treat them like a regular employee.”

“We bear the burden of getting them involved”

Chris Cagle, Regional Affairs Manager, South Bay Workforce Development Board

A major theme for the day’s conversation was sharing best practices from large companies like California Water to continue to create new pathways for underprivileged students and the uniquely abled populations to realize their full potential. Absorbing barriers for individuals is the collective responsibility of the entire talent ecosystem but organizations like the South Bay Workforce Board focus specifically on making the process for employment easier to navigate for even those facing significant challenges. Due to their close relationship with companies, and the “enormous amount of time we put into getting to know each individual employer,” according to their Regional Affairs Manager, Chris Cagle, the South Bay Workforce Investment Board has been able to create programs which have literally taken people from living without a home to a position with $100,000 salary. The South Bay Workforce Investment Board (SBWIB) utilizes apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship program like their Aero-Flex and Bio-Flex bring together manufacturers in the region, through their involvement in the program we have been able to create a curriculum that is flexible and tailored to the needs of employers.

Committed to Challenge

(From L to R) Tammy Nguyen, Talent Aquisition Manager, California Water Service Group, Jan Swinton, Dean of Workforce Development, Glendale Community College, Judith Velasco, Director at Verdugo Workforce Development Board

Jan Swinton, Dean of Workforce Development, Glendale Community College and Judith Velasco, Director at Verdugo Workforce Development Board showcased some of the amazing work they have accomplished in Glendale, California. Together they have collaborated on the Uniquely Abled Academy which allows those with disabilities the opportunity to enroll in a 16-week course where their days are split between training in a classroom setting and receiving hands-on experience through site visits or on-the-job-training. “We understand that people with disabilities have multiple skill sets and multiple interests,” said Velasco. “So what we are trying to do with this model is to expand career opportunities and link those opportunities directly to employers.” While charting a new career course can be difficult enough, the challenges become amplified for those with any sort of disability or disadvantage. All in attendance were inspired by the commitment of these two to making the process better, one individual at a time if that’s what it takes.

Join us at our 2019 Economic Forecast for more insight on the future local and national economy, click here for more info.

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How do we prepare for the future of work? How do we cultivate an inclusive and diverse workforce? Ready to find out how Los Angeles is creating and preparing for #thefutureofwork through strategic partnerships and comprehensive #communityengagement

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