Points of View

Reflecting on 2018

Kevin Stotts

Many of Talent 2025’s initiatives over the past year had their foundation in late 2017 with the announcement of a focus on two priorities: early childhood literacy and workforce diversity and inclusion. This set the stage for 2018, as the Working Groups researched these topics, uncovered best practices, and introduced tools for local employers to help meet Goal 2025. 

The Early Childhood and K-12 Working Groups focused on early literacy by researching existing programs in the region. They worked with Ready for School to expand Reach Out and Read, which works with health care providers to encourage early reading. They also researched the local impact and advocated for the Great Start Readiness Program and the Reading Now Network

At the May CEO Council meeting, we released information on the four major barriers to entering or remaining in the workforce. They are Child Care, Transportation, Education & Skills, and Substance Use. While the Workforce Development Working Group continues to address these issues, you can read more in a one-pager issued on each barrier

The Workforce Diversity and Inclusion Working Group had a busy 2018, starting with Inclusive Leadership Development events and subsequent Unconscious Bias trainings for local employers and HR leaders. The Working Group also launched PIVOT, an employer toolkit with more than 70 resources on Workforce Diversity & Inclusion, covering subjects ranging from Leadership & Accountability to Supplier Diversity to Communications and Marketing Strategies. Since its launch, PIVOT has had more than 700 page views. 

Talent 2025 also partnered with West Michigan Works! to launch HireReach, which trains local employers on inclusive and equitable hiring strategies. The first cohort of employers will continue to learn more about implementing the Evidence Based Selection Process through the next year. 

Another addition to our web-based resources was the LEADR Exchange, an online tool featuring leading practices in workforce development, recruitment, and retention for West Michigan Employers. 

The Talent Demand working group began development of a Talent Pipeline Management collaborative, which will grow through 2019. This Working Group also released the 2018 edition of the Talent Assessment and Outlook Report, the fifth edition of a comprehensive review of West Michigan’s workforce. 

In October, Talent 2025 connected with workforce scholars from outside our region by hosting Winning Strategies for Good Jobs, a public meeting featuring a panel of bipartisan scholars from Opportunity America and local West Michigan leaders to discuss issues faced by the working class. 

Finally, we added several new faces to the Talent 2025 staff. They include Executive Office Administrator Lauren Bensley, Research Manager Alex Andrews, and Project Managers Tammy Britton and Jeran Culina. 

These accomplishments are only possible because of the help and support of local business, education, and community leaders. We thank them for their guidance and support, and look forward to continued collaboration in 2019.