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Design Research

Kicking Off the Workforce Transformation Corps!

A Fellowship in Human-Centered Design

Virginia Hamilton and a kick-off participant are standing with their backs to camera, facing a wall of sticky notes that are labeled ‘skills we want to learn!’

The Workforce Transformation Corps

The CivicMakers Team is honored to support the ambitious Workforce Transformation Strategy of Jobs For the Future (JFF) through the inaugural Workforce Transformation Corps cohort. This year-long learning and engagement program places fellows in workforce development boards throughout the state of California to integrate human-centered design and equity-centered approaches into their organizations and their work with communities.

Thanks to the generous support of the James Irvine Foundation, along with project partners, Make Fast Studio, Turning Basin Labs and the California Workforce Association, we hosted our kick-off earlier this month in Los Angeles. This marked the culmination of the previous year’s work in bringing to life a maturity model for workforce boards to integrate human-centered principles. This maturity model maps institutional behaviors and activities across multiple dimensions: Purpose, Policies, People, Programs & Products, and Partners. You can read more about the model and its components here.

Our Kick-Off With the Fellows

At the heart of this work are the incredible fellows who have chosen to apply their respective superpowers to five workforce development boards. The five boards and the high level design challenges the fellows will work on in each region are as follows:

  • Anaheim → finding the human stories behind the data
  • Ventura → expanding training programs for both staff and customers
  • LA County → better connecting potential participants to services
  • Tulare County → ensuring the customers receive the highest quality services
  • Santa Barbara → better integrating workforce development into the county’s ecosystem of services

For the kick-off, the five fellows, along with representatives from each organization who will serve as their point people, joined us in-person in LA for a three-day immersive guided by CivicMakers and Virginia Hamilton of Make Fast Studio. The three days were a mix of context setting and skill development, along with some fun and informative “get to know you” activities. Together, we mapped the workforce development system, practiced the entire design thinking process, and learned about designing and facilitating meetings. We worked on our design principles to guide the project and brainstormed how we might integrate equity throughout all of the activities.

The kick off attendees are all standing in a group on the steps of the meeting venue. Many are smiling and waving or making playful gestures.

As is shown in the photo above, after three full days of hard work it was necessary for us to incorporate some fun and levity! Luckily, both the Fellows and our project partners were up to the task. We’d also like to extend a huge thank you to the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Economic Development for hosting us.

Virginia Hamilton stands in front of a white board where she is mapping out the workforce system from the federal government (WIOA funding) branching down to workforce development boards (WDBs).

What’s Next?

This first month for the Fellows and their respective workforce development boards is all about deep context immersion around the systems, organizations, and individuals within their communities that have a stake in the successful outcomes of more human-centered approaches to service delivery. The first work product from our Workforce Transformation Corps Fellow will be a Project Plan, scoped for the integration of human-centered design and equity frameworks, so the subsequent months can be used to better understand challenges experienced from the perspective of those experiencing them.

Stay tuned as we’ll be featuring each Fellow in our next five editions of LINKS!