A Brief History of Workforce Associates, Inc
Committed to Everyone's Economic Future
Workforce Associates, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in workforce and economic development, was officially incorporated in 2000 by Dick and Jane – that is, CEO Richard W. (“Dick”) Judy and President Jane M. Lommel.
Dick had already established himself as a prominent voice in the national dialogue about workforce development, as the senior co-author of the Hudson Institute’s 1997 book Workforce 2020: Work and Workers in the 21st Century. That book, the sequel to Hudson’s groundbreaking 1987 study Workforce 2000, presented a concise, compelling, thoroughly researched, and graphics-intensive picture of the future of the United States workforce.
With the publication of Workforce 2020 and the 1998 passage of the Workforce Investment Act, Dick quickly became a very busy man. Between 1997 and 2001, Dick and Jane both found themselves touring the country as expert speakers, providing lectures, workshops, and consulting services to scores of state and local workforce boards, economic developers, community leaders, and the Department of Labor itself.
Among many of these organizations, there was a recurring theme. There was a pervasive need amongst workforce professionals for reliable, accurate, timely economic and labor market information – vital tools for developing a strong and viable workforce for the 21st century.
To help fill the information gap, Dick and Jane established Workforce Associates, Inc., with the aim of finding a comprehensive new strategy to improve the knowledge of U.S. workforce professionals. As Workforce 2020 had examined the intersection of economic development, workforce development, and education and training at the “macro” level of the entire nation, the new strategy would investigate these factors for individual workforce areas on a “micro” level, i.e., at the level of states, workforce areas, and communities.
As its first major project, Workforce Associates, Inc. undertook a community audit for the Central Illinois Workforce Investment Board. This study, the first of its kind, combined rigorous statistical analysis of economic and labor market information with intensive interaction with all aspects of the Central Illinois community, from job seekers to business leaders to lawmakers.
The result of this extensive project was the pilot study entitled 21st Century Workforce: Central Illinois. The finished study quickly won substantial acclaim for the depth of its analysis, the exhaustive precision of its research, and the easy-to-read flow of its graphics-rich narrative. 21st Century Workforce: Central Illinois earned a 2002 Illinois Governor’s Award for Excellence and a cash prize of $50,000 for the Central Illinois Workforce Investment Board.
More importantly, Workforce Associates helped the Central Illinois WIB create a community engagement strategy to leverage the results of the 21st Century Workforce report into community action. The engagement strategy featured a public rollout of the study’s findings and pioneered the creation of “Challenge Teams” – focused task forces from the ranks of the community who would take on each of the targeted challenges for workforce improvement presented by the report. The resultant efforts by the Central Illinois community to implement these strategies have earned numerous awards, including another Illinois Governor’s Award in 2004 for Innovative Solutions.
21st Century Workforce: Central Illinois defined the award-winning approach and detailed methodology of the Workforce Associates strategy for all their subsequent work. Since the pilot study, WFA has conducted 21st Century Workforce studies for many more communities across the country, constantly improving our research methods, refining our studies’ formulation, and tailoring our style and content to the unique conditions of each community we serve. For a complete listing of the communities and organizations we have served, visit the Clients section.
Workforce Associates, of course, has grown well beyond just Dick and Jane in the meantime. Since its creation, WA’s ranks have grown to include a network of highly respected, talented, and experienced professionals from the worlds of economic development, workforce development, and human resources and education. You can find out more about our key players in the using the links above.
The range of WA’s products and services has greatly expanded since its inception as well, including within its scope Community Audits, State of the Workforce Reports, Industry Cluster Analysis, studies of Critical Skills Shortages, specialized lectures and workshops, Board training, and a variety of others.
If you’d like to know more about Workforce Associates, Inc. and how we can help your community achieve its workforce development goals, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to hear from you.