Welcome to the Virgin Islands Workforce Development Board

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Mar 2, 2022

Virgin Islands WIOA Unified State Plan 2020-2024 Update for Public Comment and Review

WIOA State Plan As the US Virgin Islands prepares to evolve to the next stage of existence, the sobering reality that hovers in all our minds is - “It can all change again tomorrow.” The fact is workforce development is a moving target. As a community and a workforce development board, we must rapidly fire at times without a direct aim, taking on the adage: ready fire aim. With the rapid global evolution and the limited raw materials available in the workforce, if we aim first, by the time the target is in our sights, it has already shifted to a new direction. The objective is to create an agile pipeline of enhanced learning built for rapid evolution. Training and refinement will become the norm in our territory. You will notice in this State Plan we have developed a much leaner approach with targeted tangible goals. The intention is to provide a plan that is accessible to all current and future partners in the workforce development effort. Current partners consisting of the VI Department of Labor, VI Department of Education, and VI Department of Human Services each play a vital role in the development and momentum of the workforce. The aggregation of these entities and MOU’s currently in place will pave the way to an actual talent pipeline with avenues for almost any situation. One Department that also needs to be brought to the table to begin collaboration is the Bureau of Corrections.

While we focus heavily on Youth, Adult, and Dislocated workers, ex-offenders also play a part in our workforce development and community. If we can design a re-entry strategy to reduce recidivism by providing ex-offenders with a stake in society, we will be approaching workforce development now from all angles of the spectrum.

Tourism being the dominant industry, but vulnerable to natural disasters and pandemics, the prevailing notion often repeated is “We need to diversify from Tourism.” While there is truth to that statement and strength in diversity, it should not be looked at as diversifying from Tourism... We should diversify with Tourism. Data shows that occupations in the tourism industry before 2018 had little to no-churn in employment. Any enterprise that is only disrupted by an act of God or Pandemic can be considered an “all-weather” industry. Tourism is also an industry prime for reinvention and retraining of individuals to move into other occupation verticals. These employees bring with them a high level of discipline and customer service from years in the tourism space. Sister industries such as Healthcare/ Homecare make for a smooth transition for these individuals. As the world's population ages, the destinations that seniors can travel to is limited. Not necessarily a limit on-desire or choice, but a limit on where a senior tourist can travel to and still receive assistance during their visit. Imagine a senior group being able to pre-arrange Homecare and Healthcare assistance in the Virgin Islands for their stay. From the time they arrive at the airport to the time they depart, professionals with years of experience in hospitality combined with new training in healthcare/ homecare would be available to provide a safe and monitored experience.

During the drafting of this state plan, the territory and the world at large were hit with the rapidly spreading Corona Virus. An unprecedented global pandemic that shifted our way of life now and forever moving forward. Schools and government agencies closed, and public gatherings limited if allowed at all. While working from home became necessary, the reality is not all workers have jobs that can be done remotely. Only knowledge-based workers have this luxury. Many blue-collar workers went without work until the lockdowns were lifted. Despite we will get past this; it is also known that things will never be the same again. This event shakes the foundation of an entire class of workers and rapidly introduces thoughts of robotics and automation into the workplace at all levels. While a whole population of workers wait to go back to work, the question is – will they, and if they do for how long?

The Workforce Development Board will serve as the change agent, always sounding the alarm with our partners and the community alerting on the urgency of our situation and limited time pivot. While targeting growth sectors, our workforce requires quick learning and agility. Our current pipeline is clogged by individuals in the government, and the private sector stagnated in entry-level positions. This stagnation leads to frustrated employees who vent that frustration on the very public they serve.

This is often identified as “poor customer service”. While that is the simple answer, the deeper reality is the attitude being demonstrated is a symptom of lack of fulfillment which is a mental weight on anyone. A weight not from the difficulty of the job but the weight of time. Time reflecting the number of years being in the same position with no elevation and realization that there are even more years to go before retirement from that job. Due to a lack of skills and exposure to learning and personal development, these individuals feel lucky to just have a job even at the basic level as if they “snuck” into the workforce system by chance or prayed their way there. They remain quiet and under the radar as if not to be detected. They are living their employed life as if it were stolen and not earned. The thought of promotion or advancement nonexistent. With every administration change or economic correction that fear continues to compound.

The VI Workforce Development board will serve as an entity, ensuring these individuals that it is their right to work and their right to have a secure stake in society. The board will promote self-improvement and development by offering diversified training options by the board approved service providers and partners. With a strong partnership with the Department of Human Services and the Department of Education, the board can develop an aggregation of resources into one assembly line of talent for all Virgin Islanders, youth, Adult, Dislocated Worker, and even ex-offenders.

> Download the WIOA Unified State Plan (2020-2024)