Fed Governor Tours KC’s Workforce Initiatives
The Federal Reserve System operates under a dual mandate: price stability and maximum sustainable employment. While decisions of the Fed System are affected greatly by researchers, statistics and data, they also are informed through community interaction.
Lael Brainard, as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, has oversight of the System’s community development initiatives. In the last year, Governor Brainard has integrated community tours into her schedule to gain a better understanding of what and how issues are affecting communities, and how the 12 regional Federal Reserve Bank’s engage the communities they serve.
Governor Brainard recently was in Kansas City to speak on labor market issues at the Kansas City Fed’s conference, Banking and the Economy: A Forum for Minority Bankers. After her speech, Governor Brainard, who is interested in innovative workforce development initiatives, toured the Full Employment Council (FEC) in Kansas City’s historic 18th and Vine district. Clyde McQueen, FEC president/CEO and a former member of the KC Fed’s Community Development Advisory Council, explained how the FEC is partnering with community colleges, traditional universities and employers to create industry-informed job training programs in the information technology field.
During the tour, Governor Brainard met with participants in the FEC’s current Java boot camp. The eight-week program creates a fast, just-in-time training track for individuals that have the aptitude (based on skills assessment) and interest in coding. The classroom training provides both hands-on coding instruction and soft skills training in such areas as interviewing, conflict resolution and financial literacy. The class was designed by industry experts, SnapIT Solutions, and certified by the University of Central Missouri. Through partnerships with area employers, graduates can expect to obtain starting positions that earn $15 or more an hour with potential increases to $25 or more with six months to one year of experience.
Governor Brainard then had a roundtable conversation with recent graduates of the FEC’s Reboot U program, an accelerated technology training program for the chronically unemployed. Participants receive customized training through a partnership with the University of Central Missouri and the Metropolitan Community College. Area employers then provide on-site, job-specific training and employment opportunities. The program’s objective is to increase underrepresented groups in the technology field, including women, youth and minorities.
According to McQueen: “While our economy continues to recover from the Great Recession, we face an employee shortage in well-paying, high-growth sectors, such as information technology and health care. At the same time, we have a sizeable population in need of jobs, but which lacks the necessary skills and training. Through innovate partnerships with employers and higher education, we can help individuals retool their skillsets for successful career paths.”
Governor Brainard added: “Community visits are an invaluable way to see first-hand how people around the country are faring in the jobs market. At the Full Employment Council, our discussions focused on the challenges young adults can face in qualifying for good-entry level jobs and adults can face in gaining new skills to transition to promising careers. I heard from participants about the great opportunities that are created when students, workforce development professionals and employers work together in training programs that match good jobs to highly motivated employees with job-ready skills.”