BB2C Conversation Starter: Tracy Najera, Children's Defense Fund

Everyone seems to be talking about our future workforce. What does the term ‘workforce’ really mean and who is included when we say ‘workforce’? What are we going to do about the ‘workforce’ issue? These questions and more will be discussed at the next BB2C Community Meeting, which will take place on September 13, from 4:30 – 6:00 at the Washington County Career Center.

If you are an employer, an educator, a parent, a student, or an organization that supports ‘workforce’, you should attend. We need all perspectives represented in the solutions, so we will start the conversation that evening with three different perspectives: Misty Crosby of Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Tracy Najera of Children's Defense Fund – Ohio, and Jeff Hollister of Ohio Manufacturers Association.

This week’s blog features Tracy Najera so you can learn a bit more about her organization's perspective. In her own words…

We know children do not come in pieces and that that they must be nurtured and supported throughout their lives to become successful adults. We also know every community is different – in terms of culture, industry, assets, and challenges – but some things are universal – like our absolute commitment to our children.

As we consider our children’s education and think about their future, we must also consider how we’re preparing them for the technology-driven world of work. A recent report from KnowledgeWorks Foundation pointed out that the future workforce of 2040 in Ohio will look very different from the one we have today. Yet, according to Connect Ohio, nearly a third of Ohioans in rural counties lack access to broadband internet, compared to just 2 percent of urban residents. How can we ensure our communities have the infrastructure needed for our children and adults to access online training, job opportunities and remote industries? We need to prepare for the future workforce and this requires tangible strategies for both the short and long term prosperity of our region.

The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio explores issues affecting children – especially our most vulnerable – in Ohio’s Appalachian region. Though the county is struggling in key indicators of child well-being, which are driven by economic well-being – there are areas of strength that we can build upon and clear areas where we know more investments are needed. We look forward to learning more about the future workforce needs of our community and exploring child-focused policy solutions that can prepare them for life and prepare our community for the next wave of innovations and careers.

Tracy Nájera is Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. CDF-Ohio, established in 1981, has a long commitment to the children of Ohio and the Appalachian region and began its investigation with the 2001 report Ohio’s Appalachian Children, which provided a first-ever comprehensive look into the well-being of the region’s children. CDF-Ohio continues its commitment and will be producing an updated report in 2019.