The National Association of State Workforce Agencies' (NASWA) 83rd Annual Conference just concluded in Boston and, as usual, it was a fantastic event for sharing best practices and fellowship among colleagues from other states. From sessions focused on recession preparation and workforce development to the awesome experience of a full drumline, this will be a conference to remember for years to come.
While the conference as a whole proved invaluable, a few running themes stood out: the changing nature of work and its effect on the workforce, actionable plans to prepare both your agency and your stakeholders for the next recession, and system modernization.
Josh Davies, keynote speaker and CEO of Work Ethic Development kicked off the conference describing the revolution (and evolution) of the modern workforce. The modern workplace is constantly evolving and changing with technology. Legacy jobs are going away gradually as they are replaced with and through new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. In turn, this evolution spawns new jobs supporting and utilizing these technologies. This has and will continue to have an outsized impact on your agency’s job seekers and stakeholders.
I was very impressed with the sessions focused on recession preparation. While we all hope that the next recession is years away, we also all know that “winter is coming”. It was highly encouraging to see agencies sharing their models and plans with the workforce community at large. These were concrete initiatives that will provide a foothold for those just beginning to plan and will serve as a basis for collaboration for all state workforce agencies.
System modernization was again a primary topic. While it may seem as if it’s been a constant topic at our conferences, what struck me at this conference is how much we’ve learned from project successes and failures of the past decade. Emphasis on outcomes and preparing people for the modernization journey stood out. Other themes included were microservices, data sharing, and data analytics. It was encouraging to see discussions on human-centered modular design (where human perspective is taken into account in all steps of the problem-solving process) as we all strive to maximize the customer experience.
Paid Family Leave (PFL) programs are also on the rise. States shared their best practices and lessons learned for implementing both the PFL program and the technology to support the program. There is also a need for integrated program management similar to Massachusetts PFL (UI, PFL and Workforce/Career sharing one system and data management) and California (UI, PFL and Disability Insurance).
These discussions prompted me to ponder how we can prepare our own internal workforce for this inevitable change. Placing an emphasis on engaging employees and making them an inclusive part of business process re-engineering and system modernization now is paramount to being able to efficiently fulfill your mission. A common thread through all these discussions is technology. But it strikes me that technology is just a tool, albeit an important one, that empowers you to achieve your goals. Most important is to find not only vendors with quality solutions but also vendor partners who understand what outcomes you are trying to achieve and work hand in hand with your agency to make those a reality. We at Sagitec pride ourselves on being that different kind of vendor.
I hope that all of you enjoyed the networking event that Sagitec, as a Diamond sponsor, had the opportunity to host at Fenway Park. Between pictures with the World Series Trophy, the Green Monster, and peer discussions this will be an event I will not soon forget.
We thank NASWA and the organizing team for organizing a great event as always.
If you would like to read about our Paid Family Leave tax system implementation at DC, click below.