Region Forward Blog

Kwame Brown: Region Forward will help bring workforce development into the 21st century

Nov 22, 2010
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Kwame Brown D.C. Council Chairman-elect and COG Chairman

Leaders in the metropolitan Washington region have embarked on an unprecedented regional effort to develop the most competitive workforce in the country. We are working to build knowledge and labor capacity now to prepare for a new wave of prosperity.

Economic crises can lead to opportunities for growth which is why COG created the Workforce Competitiveness Taskforce last year chaired by Alexandria Mayor William Euille. With the Taskforce’s report the many economic development and education targets in Region Forward and the regionalism fostered by RF we are developing a clear roadmap to align the workforce policies and resources of the jurisdictions in metro Washington.

As The Yardstick recently reported the region is estimated to grow significantly in the coming decades adding 2.3 million people and 1.8 million jobs by 2040. According to the taskforce report “two-thirds of all new jobs in the region are projected to be in service industries such as engineering computer and data processing business services and medical research.” Jobs like these are ideal because they are middle- to high-skill level and provide living wages for families.

As an elected official in the District of Columbia where unemployment in some neighborhoods is approaching thirty-percent I understand all-too-well the economic imbalances that can develop in an overall prosperous region. Our strategy must provide all workers including low-skilled workers with an opportunity to achieve self sufficiency.

Metropolitan Washington boasts the fifth-largest regional market in the country which makes cooperation amongst agencies and businesses enormously complex. Each jurisdiction in the region is vying for the brightest minds and the best businesses but we must also recognize that we are living in a global economy and competition is intense. We are better positioned to prosper if we leverage our resources and band together as a region.

In the coming years businesses will need ready access to qualified workers whose ideas and services will spur the next economic surge. We have a responsibility to train willing workers and couple them with growing businesses. By doing so we will maximize our economic potential and establish our region as a greater global force.

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