Planning for Minnesota’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) presents an excellent opportunity to include communities of color as allies in the implementation process.

Current leaders of the process have a strong desire to address racial disparities in the workforce development and education systems. We applaud this and have facilitated a letter from a cohort of grantees that makes some recommendations for how the process can be even more inclusive and effective.

The recommendations come from a cohort of grantee organizations participating in the Foundation’s Good Jobs Pathway Initiative, which is an effort to assist community-based organizations that strive to increase the participation and success of communities of color in the local workforce delivery system. The cohort has observed that the current system hasn’t reduced employment disparities faced by communities of color, nor has it reduced employment barriers or increased opportunities.

The Governor’s Workforce Development Board (GWDB) is hosting a public meeting about WIOA implementation on March 9, 2016 (for details). The cohort is requesting 30 minutes of open dialogue at the meeting that would allow community input to help revise the current WIOA draft plan, an opportunity to see the revisions before they’re implemented, and a course of ongoing dialogue with community members.

Additionally, the cohort offered recommendation for WIOA implementation that range from establishing benchmarks for training to defining and addressing systemic barriers to employment.

WIOA offers hope that employment disparities can end and that all members of our community can participate fully in the labor force and thrive on their own terms.

We encourage readers to read the letter we sent on behalf of the cohort, which offers the full list of recommendations about how to be more inclusive in partnering with communities of color on WIOA. We also encourage readers to learn more about GWDB’s public meeting.

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