The Full Employment Council, Inc. Hosts Midwest Urban Strategies



Workforce leaders from 13 of the largest cities in the Midwest met in Kansas City on Oct. 17 through 19 to exchange information and share best practices. Together with their host, Mr. Clyde McQueen, President CEO of the Full Employment Council and chairman of the consortium, these 13 workforce development leaders from the major cities in the region have joined forces to form Midwest Urban Strategies, a partnership made up of urban workforce system leaders from: Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Indianapolis, Indiana; Kansas City, Missouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; and Wichita, Kansas. This partnership is the first of its kind in the United States. The collaboration between these urban cities is intended to reduce unemployment, and underemployment of area residents through 21st Century training and career development systems by capitalizing on the diversity and unique opportunities of the region as well as each individual city. The U.S. Department of Labor is also an active member of the group, providing technical assistance and guidance on national and regional workforce priorities. Further, this regional collaboration identified unique strategies utilized by these workforce development organizations to meet the 21st Century skill needs that employers are in desperate need of such as: apprenticeship, work-based learning, adjunct faculty drawn from industry ranks, and just-in-time training.

The group met to discuss business and hear from partners of the Kansas City Workforce Development System including Local Initiative Support Corp. (LISC), leading healthcare employers in the Kansas City area, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, and Matt Haase from the office of Senator Roy Blunt. The three-day convening offered the leaders the opportunity to share the successes and strengths of each workforce development board in order to replicate them on a regional scale. As federal policy and funding is shifting, these models are emerging as scalable, replicable and sustainable. Through these collaborations, the public workforce system is actively impacting economic development through wide-scale project planning, thereby fulfilling the group’s goals of impacting policy, fund raising and implementing best practices. 
By leveraging each city’s unique strengths in training approaches, employer engagement, and resource sharing, the group has been awarded over $20,000,000 in funding nationally from the U.S. Department of Labor and private sources to identify and apply best practices that serve the region collectively. Most recently, over $7,000,000 in funding was secured to service dislocated workers in the region. The members of Midwest Urban Strategies bring
the comprehensive force of their partnerships to the table to build a stronger economy for the entire Midwest. 

The first discussion for the convening was with representatives from Greater Kansas City LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and LISC Milwaukee’s Financial Opportunity Centers who presented the services they offer that complement our collective community development mission. The goal of the conversation was to integrate services on a comprehensive level to prevent overlap and to align efforts in order to maximize the results for both community development and workforce development agencies. Many job seekers are financially challenged and the discussion focused on how the FOC can be included as a resource. Trese Booze, Program Officer-Greater KC LISC has invited Clyde McQueen to attend a national LISC conference to perpetuate the conversation.

After the discussion about partnerships and systems alignment, Simcoach Games presented its innovative approach to workforce development outreach through gaming. The Simcoach Skill Arcade is a bridge between people with the skills to be successful in careers and the organizations that need them. Since 2005, Simcoach has partnered with organizations in retail, construction, manufacturing, government, and healthcare to produce free and engaging games that help players discover their aptitudes and interests.
The first day of convening concluded with a tour of the 18th & Vine District including the MLB Urban Youth Academy and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum with some of our renowned  Kansas City Bar-B-Que to top the evening off. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver stopped in to say hello to the group and offer encouragement for the partnership.

After a day full of information to process, FEC treated the group of workforce development leaders to a tour of the 18th & Vine District including the MLB Urban Youth Academy.
Trese Booze, Program Officer-Greater KC LISC, describes the programs of the Financial Opportunities Centers.‚Äč

Jess Trybus, founder of Simcoach Skill Arcade, talking about video games as tools in workforce development.RepCleaverb.jpg
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver stopped by to welcome the group to Kansas City during the tour of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on first day of the meeting.
Focusing on best practices, the Full Employment Council invited the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) to speak about the very successful partnership that has grown between the two organizations over the last 15 years. The Missouri Hospital Association is Missouri’s largest association of licensed, long term health care facilities, residential care facilities and assisted living facilities, with nearly 320 facility members. MHA acts as the official healthcare intermediary on behalf of FEC.

MHA began the Healthcare and Workforce discussion on Thursday, October 18, by sharing the history of MHA and its relationship with FEC. The mission of MHA is to establish a network between hospitals to create a community to share medical knowledge and resources in efforts of creating better care and health. MHA has worked with FEC to improve employee applicant quality, job interest, understanding, and to provide industry-informed training. MHA shared its strategies to increase employee job readiness and to decrease job turnover, by utilizing workshops that educate applicants on what healthcare jobs require and job functions. MHA has worked with FEC to provide a community pipeline to health care careers by improving client match, broadening skills, and helping participants continue to grow professionally.

Human resource representatives from Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics, St. Luke’s Hospital and John Knox Village, a senior living/retirement community, joined the conversation during the second half of the day and shared how they are meeting current staffing needs through their partnership with FEC. 21st Century training approaches that utilize adjunct faculty from the Healthcare industry, apprenticeships, community/site-based trainings were innovations shared with the convening.

Children’s Mercy shared their successes with a new program created to increase company loyalty and longevity by providing education for entry level employees to become RN’s and develop career paths that lead to an increase in income. The goal of the program is to make the road to college education more attainable by allowing participants to earn while they learn.

Later that afternoon, a bus filled with consortium members pulled up to Arrowhead Stadium. As the bus unloaded, former Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receiver, Chris Penn, greeted the group and escorted them on their exclusive tour. The tour was complete with penthouse views, a visit to the Chiefs locker room, and Hall of Honor history lessons. It’s safe to say, Kansas City has a least 20 new (secret) fans now!

Each Workforce Development Board in the consortium was presented with a signed Chiefs jersey to commemorate their trip to Kansas City.
Missouri Hospital Association’s senior vice president, Michael Dunaway, shares their experience leading workforce development in the health care industry, and introduces his successor, Bryant McNally.
Molly Weaver, Director of Talent Acquisition, Children’s Mercy Hospital, explains the hospital’s relationship with FEC. 

Heather Gage, Director of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition, St. Luke’s Health System and Laurie Johnson, Vice President Human Resources of John Knox Village, recount their experience working with FEC. 
Clyde McQueen, President and CEO of the Full Employment Council,  thoroughly enjoyed the tour of Chiefs stadium.
The room filled with members eager to meet Matt Haase, State Director, Senator Roy Blunt’s office, and have a heartfelt conversation about workforce and the government’s role. Matt Haase shared the struggles that he is hearing from local business owners to find and maintain competent employees. Haase reported hearing from the Association of Contractors who conducted a survey that showed more than ¾ of those who responded to the survey reported that they were having a difficult time finding qualified applicants. He expressed that we are now seeing more jobs than job seekers, making it imperative that we educate and train people to fill the job market needs.

Clyde McQueen shared his thoughts on making Pell grant money available for certificate and trade training. McQueen explained that studies show that Pell grant money is tied to credit-based course work and much of the Pell grant funding goes unused in Missouri. McQueen also shared that it takes two to three years to approve for-credit courses, which does not necessarily reflect the demands of sectors such as IT given the 21st Century pace for skill development. The agility of the workforce development system is ideal for addressing the pace of credential attainment through industry-informed, immersive, short-term training that is both demonstrable and portable.

U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) Region 5, represented by Steve Scott, joined the conversation to explain how they service both the employers and job seekers through administering and monitoring grant agreements. USDOL Region 5 currently has a portfolio of 300 grants which totals to approximately 4.5 billion dollars. USDOL reaffirmed their commitment to assist local workforce development boards as well as the consortium in the critical work being done in the region.

Clyde McQueen introduces Matt Haase, Director of Senator Roy Blunt’s Missouri Office. Matt joined the group to discuss workforce development issues on behalf of Senator Blunt who is the chair person of the budget subcommittee of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

FEC would like to offer our sincere thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy, as well as our partners and staff who contributed to the convening.



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