Hundreds gather for a common purpose: Advancing workforce development
They came for information and expertise, and left with actionable strategies and new connections to take back to their workplace.
Approximately 300 Sioux Falls-area professionals attended last week’s second annual WIN in Workforce Summit, produced by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.
Journey Group human resources director Jolene Smith was one of them.
“It is a huge opportunity for us as employers to bring the community together and learn from each other,” she said.
“I wanted to make sure I learned what are some of the new trends? What are the opportunities? What area ideas other companies have or opportunities to think outside the box?”
Attendees began the day with a powerful message from keynote speaker Chuck Gallagher, a business ethics expert who engaged the crowd with applicable strategies for organizational growth.
They then proceeded to three breakout-session opportunities, following tracks designed for executive, human resources professionals and future leaders.
“One of the things that is so amazing about our community is that we have so many experts. We had over 40 experts participating in over 10 sessions,” said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.
“They’re lending their time and their talent for the betterment of talent and workforce development, so we just couldn’t be more pleased.”
Sessions included best practices and strategies related to the key areas of focus for the Development Foundation’s workforce development efforts: talent development, talent attraction and business partnerships.
In a session on talent development, for instance, LSS CEO Betty Oldenkamp shared the broad range of ways her organization supports skill development, from offering English as a second language classes at five levels to working with organizations to provide interpreter services to offering help to the incarcerated population.
“We work inside and outside the prison doing pre-employment work skills training, financial services like how to balance a check account … and cognitive behavioral interventions,” she said. “It’s evolved into an employment service.”
In a session on talent attraction, Kayla Eitreim, president of Junior Achievement of South Dakota, gave the crowd a new way to think about using her organization to reach a future workforce.
“JA historically has been focused on finance, and really it’s for industry to show students what you do, what your education path was and how to connect with learning in school,” she said.
“Having them see someone in a job that might be what they’re interested in helps solidify that opportunity and helps them dream bigger than they maybe did before. It’s bigger than the finance piece – it’s workforce readiness and an entrepreneurship focus as well.”
And in a session on business partnerships, innovation leaders Michelle Lavallee and Kira Kimball shared best practices from multiple businesses and explained executives’ roles in guiding innovation.
“I really focus on ways to create a competitive advantage for my colleagues, whether that’s in the marketplace or in recruiting workforce,” Kimball, chief innovation officer at Howalt+McDowell Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company, told the crowd.
“In insurance, there’s not a major that you study, so we have to find ways that are very creative to bring on new talent.”
The day conclude with a panel featuring six area university presidents to talk about how higher education and business can work together for the betterment of the future Sioux Falls workforce.
Executives such as Tim McCarthy, CEO and general manager of Sioux Valley Energy, said it was a valuable event.
“I thought they brought in excellent speakers,” he said. “They were able to go out and find people with expertise in various professions and disciplines. We could bring it all together and brainstorm on what we need to develop our workforce going forward.”
Smith at Journey agreed.
“I think the biggest opportunity is when you bring all the community leaders together,” she said. “We have the opportunity and the power to make change. And I think that’s what’s really powerful about something like this.”