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Alabama labor leader named head of national group

Alabama’s labor secretary has been installed as the chair of a national workforce association.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington assumed the role of Board Chair of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Washington, who has served as Labor Secretary since 2014, will serve as Board Chair until September 2021, then will remain on the board for another year as Past Board Chair.

“I’m excited to take on this new opportunity and to connect with my peers across the country in learning best practices and comprehensive strategies to strengthen Alabama’s economy and Department of Labor,” said Washington. “I’m extremely honored that my colleagues have placed me in this position and am grateful for their expertise and friendship.”

The National Association of State Workforce Agencies, or NASWA, is the national organization representing all 50 state workforce agencies, D.C. and U.S. territories. These agencies deliver training, employment, career and business services, in addition to administering the unemployment insurance, veteran reemployment, and labor market information programs. The Association provides policy expertise, shares promising state practices, and promotes state innovation and leadership in workforce development.

Washington said what he’s looking forward to the most in this role is developing team strategies that promote impactful resources for those individuals who need assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think serving in this role will also be beneficial to the services ADOL provides,” Washington said. “Exchanging best practices and discussing challenges with my colleagues nationally will help improve services in Alabama’s workforce system.”

The Association also lobbies Congress on behalf of the states’ workforce agencies. One of its legislative priorities is to “ensure sufficient and flexible workforce development funding.” Other issues include supporting the unemployment insurance system, continue supporting reemployment services and apprenticeships, improving the disabled veterans outreach program, and ensuring continuous improvement under the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act.

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