August 2020 Message From the Director, Judith Velasco

I hope that you continue to move forward in health, and have found opportunities to enjoy some summertime rest and relaxation with your families during these times. The pandemic continues to influence how we go about our daily lives, and, after almost 6 months, it seems we have been doing our best to adjust to the new demands that social distancing and other health precautions have placed upon us.

With COVID cases still fluctuating, we continue to watch the job market closely for impacts and opportunities to help our communities. Though there is evidence to support the idea that someday, things will return to the way we have always known them to be, we are coming to accept that the workforce system will see some permanent changes.

We expect to embed our new, virtual mode of providing services into our daily operations on a long-term basis. Yet we are aware that in doing so, we must also take into account the technological limitations of the individuals who come to us for career services. Some may not have WiFi or access to hot spots, and others simply do not have the technological equipment, like laptops, that would enable them to access our services or work remotely at jobs they are placed at.

This will not stop us from making sure that we explore all options available to address this critical barrier to accessing workforce services virtually. We will continue to look to you, our board members, to provide us with your input on how we can address this growing need.

The month of August has also brought with it confirmation that most local school districts, in addition to many universities, will begin the school year with all students participating in distance learning. We are aware that this may impact the ability of adults with children to work full-time, and we will look to understand the full extent of this impact through the lens of the services we offer.

We continue to receive COVID-19 program guidelines and attend online trainings relating to workplace safety from our funding sources. We are communicating these to our vendors to ensure that our participants’ worksites remain compliant and safe. We also continue to enroll participants in our emergency assistance grants as well as our formula allocation. I look forward to sharing details at our upcoming board meeting.

I’d like to thank you for your continued commitment to supporting our region’s workforce through these unprecedented times.

Best, Judith Velasco, Executive Director