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Conclusion

Persistent race and class employment disparities among workforce development program participants do exist, and many program providers have noted areas in which DEED can better support work to reduce those disparities. The specific approach that DEED takes will depend on the outreach process that DEED staff are now engaged in.

Currently, approaches to addressing disparities vary across service areas and across providers. Although this can be messy and hard to communicate, this diversity of approaches may be a strength of our workforce development system worth retaining even as DEED takes on a more prominent role.

Multiple program managers expressed the concern that overly prescriptive statewide program policies can backfire when program providers are tasked with implementation. A policy that should work-that even has a track record of success in another context-may not work with the unique partners, infrastructure, and situation of each local provider. One program manager spoke to this difference between setting a goal and naming the strategies that each provider must take to reach that goal:

"[DEED could say] 'You must follow these program designs.' And then you do have to design it differently. Your statement on racial equity has to be different. Because now it's not just about saying 'Goal is x and we're going to fund you to do that.' [...] But as soon as you start dictating to the locals or to nonprofits how to do their work, you then need to build it in. Because we've now had our hands tied to the strategies we can deploy on the street."

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