Disrupting the Status Quo to Pull Communities Out of Poverty

As a community activist/agitator I have worked to dismantle the seemingly intractable school to prison pipeline.

Early on I realized that robust and well funded skills and trades development programs could be the foundation for helping at risk community members avoid the vicious cycles poverty and recidivism.

It has been encouraging to see states around the country developing initiatives that include reforms in the education skills development components of workforce development programs for low-income and low-skilled adults, especially those focused on employment in the construction industry.

These are positive developments yet completion of a basic, short term, workforce development program doesn’t guarantee that participants will find jobs or earn a living wage once employed.

Local governments must demand hiring preferences on publicly funded projects for low-income, underrepresented, and entry-level workers. At the same time, expanding access to construction careers won’t matter if workers aren’t provided high quality accredited skills training.

Today there are several well funded workforce development programs that train participants in skills that are inadequate for career advancement or a financial secure future.

Resources are not the real issue here, inertia, bureaucracy, lack of innovation, and silos that discourage collaboration are what’s hindering progress!

Leaders must lead, information silo have to disappear,

cross-collaboration must become the norm, innovation averse bureaucrats must defer to the forward thinkers.

Disrupting the current workforce development model and directing resources and support to those who intimately understand the needs and motivations of government, developers, contractors, workers, and local communities.

The re-calibration must create Win-Win scenarios for all stakeholders.

Terrance Knox is a community advocate and the founder of TheBizDevTeam.com. He lives in Fort Greene Brooklyn.

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