With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the labor market experienced a whirlwind of changes. Texas witnessed a record high unemployment rate, a higher rate of workers retiring due to health concerns, and some workers leaving the labor force altogether. To address these challenges and strengthen the regional talent market, Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas (WSNCT), a 14-county workforce board with an annual operating budget of more than $18 million, launched a strategic planning process. During the initial stages, WSNCT identified career exploration, childcare quality, and community partnerships as baseline priorities; however, they needed additional guidance to bring the plan to life.
As part of a comprehensive engagement, TIP Strategies facilitated multiple work sessions with board members, staff, and WSNCT leadership to ensure meaningful inclusion of relevant stakeholders and to co-create actionable strategies with measurable outcomes. The resulting five-year plan focused on improving childcare quality as a two-generation workforce support, strengthening career pathways leading to quality jobs, and integrating workforce and industry partners. After the adoption of the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, TIP was re-engaged to facilitate key strategic planning initiatives. To keep the initiatives on track, TIP helped establish internal implementation teams for each of the three strategic priorities, create work plans and goals for the teams, and facilitate monthly team meetings. One of the plan’s major initiatives included the launch of an infrastructure and construction sector partnership. As of early 2023, over 70 partners have worked collectively to change the perception of construction careers among young adults, strengthen training programs to fuel a strong talent pipeline for local firms, and brainstorm on creative recruiting practices. With a strong foundation in place, the WSNCT team will continue to lead efforts to strengthen the regional talent market for career seekers and employers alike.