On January 30, 2019, local workforce practitioners from across Baltimore City participated in the relaunch of Practice Advisory (PA). PA originated with the successful One Baltimore for Jobs (1B4J) initiative where, as part of the 1B4J demonstration grant, recipients met regularly to troubleshoot the complex compliance of a government contract. Over the course of the two-year grant, these workforce professionals discussed other issues they faced and realized there was a benefit to meeting across programs. 1B4J revealed the value of creating connections and working together in new ways geared toward collective strategy and better outcomes. After the 1B4J grant period ended, the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) hired outside consultants to engage workforce development professionals around the city to determine how to structure a Practice Advisory for the future. Fourteen workforce professionals formed the Governance Committee and met for six months to develop a framework for a citywide workforce practice advisory group: PA 2.0.

NEW WAYS OF WORKING

PA 2.0 has branched out and grown from the original 1B4J group of providers. About 70 workforce professionals representing more than 40 provider programs, supportive services, and government agencies attended this first convening. They connect through the belief that everyone deserves the opportunity for meaningful work and a hopeful future. They recognize that as workforce development partners, they help real people gain access to the resources they need to lead productive, meaningful lives. Practice Advisory aims to fulfill these promises by facilitating connections, increasing collaboration, and aligning strategies to achieve population-level impact. The Governance Committee also developed shared principles and values; find them here.

Organizers of this first convening were intentional about breaking the status quo of how professional development and traditional networking spaces facilitate idea generation and strategy alignment. Members started their day by digging deeper into their “why,” the things they find most important, and how they see themselves within the Practice Advisory community. Members of PA’s Governance Committee transitioned into presenting the overview of PA, which included outlining the framework of its purpose, expectations for the future, membership benefits, and professional development needs. Participants discussed how they would best fit within the vision for a coordinated system, and how that would translate into better quality services, training programs, and jobs for Baltimore City residents.

Through six issue-focused groups, Practice Advisory leaders shared the scope of their work within Vision 2020, which gave other practitioners the chance to get to know their peers who are leading systems change efforts in Baltimore. These breakout groups included the Practitioner Policy Agenda from Job Opportunities Task Force, Job Quality led by Civic Works, Adult Basic Education with Community Capacity Builders, Homelessness x Workforce with the Mayor’s Office of Human Services, Access Points, and the Hospitality & Retail Partnership both facilitated by the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. A facilitator then guided participants through Vision 2020 and asked them to place their programs and services within the larger movement to help create a shared understanding of success toward the common goal. As the day continued, PA attendees were introduced to the Common Performance Metrics, a standardized set of definitions that originated with 1B4J. Programs that receive funding for workforce development will be required to submit a common reporting form that uses these metrics as a way to track the workforce system’s effectiveness.

COLLABORATION

At the end of the convening, participants gave one word that described how they felt about Practice Advisory. A majority offered “collaboration”, which encapsulates the vision of PA 2.0 and its role moving forward. As the BWDB and the MOED work to develop a workforce system that works for all Baltimore City residents, collaboration with providers, funders, and other agencies will be crucial. Practice Advisory is an opportunity to build these important relationships and learn from one another. We are just getting started.

 

If you have any questions, or would like to be a part of Practice Advisory, please contact Krysti Dickerson at the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development at kdickerson@oedworks.com.