Kirkland is the President & CEO of AAWDC, the workforce provider for Anne Arundel County, MD, with a background in Economic Development he has transformed AAWDC into a demand-driven organization. Through this, AAWDC has become known for its industry training model, addressing the soft skills gap, & developing work and learn opportunities. Kirkland is now shifting focus to get more candidates off the sidelines & into careers through strategies aimed at upskilling youth and individuals in poverty.
What is your vision for the workforce development profession?
My vision is that workforce professionals are viewed as knowledgeable experts that have the tools & resources to not only help advance the careers of their customers but advance their own careers within workforce development. To do this workforce professionals need a network like NAWDP they can tap into to learn and apply best practices across our industry. They also need to be able to articulate the value they bring to their local area each day while working with their customers.
Do you have a particular interest area or passion in workforce development?
With my background in economic development, my passion is aligning the needs of businesses to the work that workforce development does to prepare job seekers for successful employment. This has influenced my other passion of developing innovative strategies to work with youth and underemployed individuals to get them off the sidelines, out of temporary positions, and connected to career paths that help them be self-sufficient while meeting the demand for skilled talent from businesses.
Why do you want to serve on the Board?
For years I have enjoyed serving on the Board, I have seen NAWDP grow as an organization over this time and I want to continue to help the staff and board make NAWDP the premier organization it can be. I want the current and potential NAWDP members to see the value that this association brings to them and their organizations. I also want elected officials and stakeholders to recognize the value of having a skilled and professional workforce development system brings to our communities.
|What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the profession today and how can NAWDP address that challenge?|
The biggest challenge will be the workforce system's ability to rapidly adjust to change. The sudden impact of COVID-19 is a perfect example where workforce development had to make a sudden change in how we deliver services to our customers. Even after states reopen, the economy will be different and the needs of our businesses and job seekers will change and workforce development will need to quickly adapt to that need in order to remain the valuable service that our customers rely on.