Washington, D.C. – Members of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors voted unanimously today to adopt Closing the Gaps to Build the Future, a report aimed at improving workforce development in the metropolitan Washington region.
In the midst of economic uncertainty and rising unemployment, in February 2009 the COG Board of Directors created a 20-member task force on workforce development. The task force reviewed current programs within and outside the region and identified strategies to better prepare workers to meet labor force needs. Closing the Gaps to Build the Future summarizes the task force’s findings. The report marks the first time workforce development has been examined at the regional level.
The report indicates the federal government’s presence, and the myriad employment opportunities it supports, has spared the region from many of the most severe effects of the economic downturn that have befallen other areas. However, the report notes that this relative strength should not preclude action on improving training and opportunities for the region’s diverse workforce.
City of Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille chaired the task force and spoke to Board members on the relevance of the report. “At a time of immense economic pressure in both the private and public sectors, strengthening the ability to meet current and future employment needs must be a primary focus for the region’s policy makers and leaders,” said Euille. “The National Capital Region must be well-positioned to emerge from the current economic downturn more resilient and competitive.”
District of Columbia Councilmember and COG Chairman Kwame Brown, who in early 2009, as the then Vice Chair of COG helped push for the focus on workforce development, noted that workforce development will likely be a primary focus of his chairmanship. “Workforce development is always at the forefront of my mind,” said Brown.
As part of COG’s continued involvement in this effort, a forum will be organized in the spring of 2010 bringing together leaders in the political, educational, business, and civic communities to build upon the strategies put forth in the report and facilitate discussion on further action.