Developing human capital in the Washington region is a key element of the Region Forward vision for a prosperous and livable greater Washington.
The Region Forward Coalition is acutely aware that the success of their broad regional plan cannot focus only on accessible transportation systems and clustering development around activity centers. Educating current residents to participate in the region’s growing workforce and ensuring that all communities foster wellness and access to quality healthcare are just as important. To focus on these concerns the Council of Governments and the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington convened regional nonprofit leaders on Monday November 4th at the George Mason University campus in Arlington for Region Forward: Moving the Needle on Health Education and Workforce Development. The meeting sought to engage area nonprofits in the Region Forward vision and enlist their help in identifying assets and opportunities to advance public health education and workforce development in the region. Nonprofit Roundtable President and CEO Diana Léon-Taylor Arlington County Board Member Mary Hynes and COG Executive Director Chuck Bean led the discussion of approximately 45 nonprofit leaders including representatives from philanthropy community development research and human service agencies.
Using the Region Forward goals targets and baseline analysis in the health education and economic sectors as a starting point for discussion the conversation focused on the challenges of making and measuring progress on these issues. Key themes included:
The need to clarify which principles are most important with regard to health education and workforce development. Participants commented that the health target “The majority of the Healthy People Goals are met by greater than half of the region’s population” is mainly focused on diseases but should also consider access to health care and social determinants of health.
The need to look at subgroups and variability within the region when measuring the targets in order to get a more comprehensive understanding of how the region is performing. For example responding to the education targets for high school graduation and attainment of Bachelor’s and advanced degrees participants emphasized the importance of understanding which groups of students may have barriers to meeting the targets and recommended working with the institutional effectiveness offices of area colleges and universities to better understand such barriers.
The need to focus on the bigger picture that the goals and targets seek to address. When discussing the economic targets for job creation and wage growth participants wanted to understand how newly-created jobs were affecting the region’s unemployment rate and whether increases in median income were actually contributing to sustainable wages and affordability for working families.
The challenges of advancing regional solutions across jurisdictions. Credentialing requirements that differ from county to county and state to state were highlighted as a major barrier to workforce development efforts in the region.
While the conversation illuminated many challenges to achieving ambitious regional targets it also highlighted areas in which the Region Forward Coalition and COG could collaborate and align with efforts and initiatives already underway to advance Region Forward goals. This meeting marked an important step toward broader collaboration and partnership with the region’s vibrant nonprofit sector.
Click here to access illustrations from the event’s discussions