The 2020 NASWA Veterans Conference: A Year of Innovation
Management Concepts was proud to return to the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) Veterans Conference on August 12-14, 2020, as a Gold Sponsor. While there, we represented the accomplishments of our training partner, the National Veterans Training Institute (NVTI), a program of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Veterans Employment Training Service (VETS).
NASWA faced the safety and logistics challenges of 2020 with a spirit of innovation and achievement, presenting the 2020 Veterans Conference virtually. Although we missed having face-to-face conversations, we were happy to see that a record number of 1,300 registrants attended the event.
Opening remarks by Sam Mitchell, WorkSource Administrator, Employment Connections Military Base Support, Washington State Employment Security Department, and Chair, NASWA Veterans Affairs Committee, set the tone for the conference. Mitchell noted the passion and excitement of the NASWA staff and stakeholders make the conference a valuable event.
John Lowry, Assistant Secretary of Labor, USDOL Veterans’ Employment & Training Service, welcomed everyone while noting that, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, veterans are employed at higher rates than their non-veteran counterparts, and that the veteran unemployment rate is down to 0.1%, the lowest since the year 2000.
Acknowledging that these are times of unprecedented change and uncertainty, Lowry stated that “The road to recovery will be challenging, but we are up for the challenges.” He emphasized that DOL VETS wants all veterans to reach their full potential, not just to have a job, but to get the transition right from the start. One of the groundbreaking initiatives toward this end is a collaboration between a software company that developed the AI behind Match.com to develop software to match veteran candidates with potential jobs.
One of the key features of the 2020 Veterans Conference was the spotlight on military spouses. Suzi LeVine, Commissioner, Washington State Employment Security Department, and Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, Director, Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs presented an informative session entitled, “Listening and Learning – What We Learned About Military Spouse Challenges During a Listening Tour of Washington State Military Installations” Topics included the numerous employment challenges military spouses face throughout their spouses’ military careers and during the transition to civilian life
Moving personal stories of spouses and caregivers for disabled veterans were addressed in a panel discussion on the Weight of Honor documentary. This film presented the candid stories of how caregivers’ lives and the lives of the veterans they care for have changed forever as a result of injuries sustained in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Many resources for veterans were also identified and expounded on, including new legislation, support for veteran entrepreneurs, apprenticeships, and leveraging LinkedIn to increase career opportunities and build networks.
Unlike previous years, there was not enough time available for the popular session “What’s New at NVTI.” However, Dr. Hannah Toney, Director of Learning and Curriculum Development, NVTI, provided a comprehensive overview of new and upcoming NVTI learning opportunities at the NASWA member meeting on August 19. There she highlighted NVTI’s transformed digital presence, new and upcoming curriculum, and how all of the classroom courses were quickly transformed into a virtual format. Watch this quick video for details.
The energy and enthusiasm of the NASWA professionals who make it their daily mission to serve those who served is truly inspirational made the online Veterans Conference a great success, and we look forward to supporting NASWA again in 2021.
To learn more about our commitment to the training and professional development of America’s veterans, visit our Veterans webpage.
Vera Medici is Marketing Manager, Events & Strategic Partnerships at Management Concepts. In this role, she communicates and collaborates with clients, organizations, and strategic partners. She prepares for and manages all aspects of participation at trade shows, special events, and webinars in addition to expertly managing all social media activity. Vera holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from George Mason University.