The New Face of Workforce Development

There’s an old Chinese curse that goes ‘may you live in interesting times.” Well- these times are certainly interesting! Where you are sitting on the fence doesn’t matter. Whether you are an employer looking for talent, a workforce development leader trying find the solution for your business partners, or training providers who are struggling to develop programs and training, we’re all living in interesting times indeed.

I cannot think of another time when there was such an imbalance in the normal equation of people needing jobs and the availability of jobs. There is such a shortage of talent that I have heard employers, desperate to keep production going, say things like “if they can fog a mirror, they’re hired!” The wave of baby boomers retiring, which every industry is now dealing with, is hammering away at the institutional legs of workforce development. This phenomenon has altered the way in which we view training, hiring, retaining and succession planning.

How we got here is interesting, because there were many pathways leading to this moment. I read a journal recently that said 66% of all jobs require less than a four year degree.* Despite that, the number of four-year college programs have grown, and parents continue to hold to the belief that a four year college degree is the best path forward for their kids. Additionally, we (as a collective) have not emphasized diversity and inclusion over the years, and as the demographics have shifted we find ourselves struggling to connect with a new norm; communities of color, women, reentrants, and other underserved groups are where the next pool of talent rests.

This is where the challenge lies for our entire economy- how do we change our focus to capture this unique opportunity which means more people invited to participate? Our traditional methods of finding and developing talent generally don’t “fit” the new pathways for talent that we have to explore. These groups talk a different language (in some cases literally and figuratively), have different cultural expectations, and bring diverse talents to our workforce. Unfortunately, across our various workforce programs nation-wide, we’re still offering the same types of career readiness and training we offered 15 years ago!

This is the reason that my partner and I, Walter Dorsey, have started The VALL Group. With over 50 years of workforce development experience, our consulting firm focuses on innovative strategies to help Workforce Development Boards, Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) program operators, Community Colleges, K-12 systems, and the various business sectors address their workforce and career education challenges. We offer proven strategies to engage our communities and create training programs that focus on designing and supporting innovation. The VALL Group is equipped to answer some of your most difficult workforce challenges. I am proud to direct you to our new website:, where you can find more information about the services that we can offer to you and your organization. Additionally, you can reach me at or

*Sourced from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce

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