Magazine article Talent Development

Thomas E. Perez: U.S. Secretary of Labor Washington, D.C

Magazine article Talent Development

Thomas E. Perez: U.S. Secretary of Labor Washington, D.C

Article excerpt

Thomas E. Perez is the 26th secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. Prior to this, he was assistant attorney general for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. Perez received a bachelor's degree from Brown University, and a master's of public policy and a law degree from Harvard University.

WHEN YOU SPEAK ABOUT WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, HOW EXACTLY DO YOU DEFINE IT? WHAT ARE YOUR HIGHEST PRIORITIES?

Workforce development is all about connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-befilled jobs. That means helping people acquire the skills to compete for good jobs that pay fair wages and will allow more Americans to punch their ticket to the middle class. But it also means partnering with employers to ensure training programs are designed to give workers the skills they need to fill actual jobs that exist today. I like to call this our "Match.com" role--we want to play matchmaker between employers and job seekers.

As we take a look at our programs, we're learning that there's a lot being done right on this front, but there's also a lot that could be done better. That's why the administration is doing a top-to-bottom review of workforce programs to make sure we're getting the best possible return on our investment. This review is focused on a few key areas:

* expanding and strengthening partnerships with employers so they can seamlessly use the workforce system

* making the system as easy as possible for job seekers to get the skills they need

* recognizing innovation, rewarding it, and taking it to scale

* imploding stovepipes across the federal government so that we're working in a coordinated, collaborative way to best serve job seekers

* lifting up the critical role of apprenticeships.

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE GREATEST NEED FOR WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS?

The workforce development needs in America are constantly shifting--they're just as likely to be affected by huge changes in the global economy as they are by a small change in the local labor market.

To be able to adapt to those changes, we need to have an incredibly dynamic system that uses the strengths of partnerships at the local, state, regional, and national levels. We've seen this in action since the Great Recession in 2007, with the national network of nearly 2,500 American Job Centers serving an average of more than 14 million people each year, even as funding was declining. …

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