Western Governors University (WGU) launched a series that focused on workforce development and higher education. Each installment of the series featured a panel of business leaders across industries who shared their experiences around preparing the workforce for challenges and innovative approaches to succeed in the “new normal” and a post-COVID-19 environment.

Dr. Angie Besendorfer, WGU Regional Vice President, provided welcoming remarks for the inaugural webinar session. “The Ambition Never Rests virtual series is inspired by the work of leaders across the country who are responding strategically to the pandemic,” Besendorfer said. “Highlighting them and providing a forum for conversation around their innovations aligns with WGU’s experience as an industry leader, and we hope the series will inspire individuals and companies to be innovative and collaborative.”

All sessions were recorded, and a link to each recording is available for viewing at www.wgu.edu/thoughtleaderseries. Each session is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP(®) or SHRM-SCP(®).

TRACK A: State of Workforce Development Across Industries

This candid conversation included a better understanding of how companies consider the full breadth of their employees’ needs, for many, in phases including stability, self-esteem, mental health, community, growth, and meaning in the context of crisis. Leaders shared plans, experiences, successes, and pivots, and what the journey forward may look like. Hearing these first-hand stories will inspire you and your company as we maneuver this new landscape.

To date, the series has featured voices of 16 industry leaders, including Directors from Chicago-based HUB International, Comcast – Chicago Region, and Advocate Aurora Health.

TRACK B: Control Your Destiny: Career Advancement via online learning

Careers aren’t always made of lockstep, paint-by-numbers kinds of moves. That said, it is still important for your career decisions to be grounded in a larger goal, plan, or purpose. Knowing what you are working toward can help you figure out what your intention should be. Knowing your intention will help you develop the filter for your career-related decisions. Hear from a panel of WGU grads who shared their intentions and career-related decisions, and successes, and how they are navigating in our unprecedented times.

“We’ve had conversations with employees to really understand what we need to do in terms of support and resources to enable them to be productive, engaged, and ultimately able to support their clients.”

– J’ai Brown, HUB International

TRACK C: How to Advance and Retain Your Workforce of the Future

To address the waves attached to the unemployment crisis, collaboration across employers standing on opposite sides of the growing labor market riptide is necessary now more than ever. While many segments of our economy are imploding others are growing. Employers on both sides of the hiring spectrum must be engaged in the process that connects laid-off workers with new opportunities.

This lively roundtable conversation featured top employers across the nation. The discussion included: how closing skills and equity gaps is challenging employers to think differently about credentials and experience, and how these top employers are searching for talent in unconventional places.

Screenshot during Track C: How to Advance and Retain Your Workforce of the Future.
Top left: Natalie Murray, VP, Student Experience, WGU Top Right: Clayton Pryor, Director, Workforce Development Advocate Aurora Health Bottom Left: Dennis Rossow, Director of Human Resources, Comcast – Chicago Region Bottom Right: J’ai Brown, Human Resource Director, HUB International

TRACK D: Are We Ready for a Skill-Based Economy?

Across the nation, there are a growing number of jobs that are going unfilled because our current hiring practices are costly, time-intensive, and ineffective: employers struggle to identify qualified candidates, and individuals struggle to identify pathways to opportunity. WGU is building the technological infrastructure to support more seamless connectivity for the workforce. At the table were Walmart, Salesforce, and IBM to support the transformation of the nation’s workforce and talent pipeline by leading a transition to a skills-based labor market that connects higher education to the workforce.

To attend upcoming tracks, email Amy Shivvers at amy.shivvers@wgu.edu.

Ambition Never Rests recordings are available for you to view.