On February 5-7, more than 300 workforce advocates from 34 states traveled to Washington DC to take their voices to Capitol Hill as part of NSC’s annual 2017 Skills Summit. Workforce advocates, educators, public sector partners, community-based organizations, and labor leaders shared the priorities of our coalition with 200 members of the 115th Congress, reaching both majority and minority leadership, and meeting with members of all key committees.
NSC often draws on the expertise and advocacy of our deep, broad network of workforce advocates to push a skills agenda on the state and federal level. This year, NSC welcomed nearly 70 first-time attendees to the Summit, and added five new states to the delegation roster – growing our network to record levels.
Advocacy focused and Hill ready
The purpose of the Skills Summit is to prepare our nation’s workforce leaders as advocates so that they have the tools to shape and drive key federal policies. The first two days of the Summit included an overview on the national political climate as well as deep dives on the federal policies that impact their work back home.
Policymakers and Congressional staff joined us at the Summit for dynamic conversations about welfare reform, the Higher Education Act, apprenticeship, the Perkins Act, infrastructure and upskilling the workforce. During breakout sessions, participants drilled down on specific policy asks and strategized on how to best use their time on the final day’s meetings with Senators and Representatives.
Kim Ford from the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTE) and Gerri Fiala from the Department of Labor shared their perspectives about the impact of the presidential transition on federal agencies, and Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY02) shared how his support for upskilling comes from his background as a business owner. Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA41) spoke with attendees during the evening reception on Monday night and described his commitment to fighting for job training, career and technical programs, and partnerships between community colleges and businesses.
On the final day of the Summit, attendees met with Senators and Representatives in more than 179 meetings on Capitol Hill, discussing the workforce issues that matter most to their communities. They advocated for a range of issues including urging Congressional support for sector partnerships and job-driven financial aid to promoting apprenticeship, upskilling, and adult education.
Recognizing our network leaders
Each year, NSC recognizes members of our network who invest their time and talent to support our coalition’s shared policy initiatives. The 2017 Skills Champion Award was awarded to Carrie Thomas, the Executive Director of the Chicago Jobs Council, in recognition of her 15 years of strategic and effective advocacy with NSC. Carrie participated on our Leadership Council and currently serves on our Work-Based Learning National Advisory Panel (NAP).
Board Member Brenda Dann-Messier was honored with the Power NAP-per Award for her extraordinary contribution to our (NAPs). NSC also recognized Young Invincibles with the Partners in Crime Award for mobilizing their network in partnership with NSC to advance improved federal skills policy. Steve Long of the St. Louis Community College Workforce Solutions Group was honored with the Taking Care of Business Award for his outstanding effort to mobilize business partners and advocate for improved federal skills policy.
NSC is grateful to JPMorgan Chase & Co., Siemens Foundation, Walmart, and USA Funds whose generous support made the 2017 Skills Summit (and makes NSC’s ongoing work) possible.