Tulare County WIB innovates workforce solutions

Work investment board holds INNOVATORS by Design Conference at the Visalia Convention Center to foster innovative thinking with workshops to find solutions to problems in the workforce

(Rigo Moran)
Karis Caddell
Published September 26, 2023  • 
12:30 pm

TULARE COUNTY – The Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County (WIB) “breaks out” of old-fashioned thinking by designing a conference to foster innovation and prepare people for the current problems in the workforce.

WIB has announced its annual INNOVATORS by Design conference, which is set to take place at the Visalia Convention Center on Oct. 11 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

The conference has been put on for over 10 years and aims to foster collaboration and inspire innovative solutions to current workforce challenges. Attendees can expect an engaging lineup of speakers and interactive breakout sessions that provide actionable insights and strategies for workforce development. 

“We really try to emphasize that this is an opportunity for networks and building partnerships. We have a lot of great partners in the community,” Nicola Wissler, WIB communications coordinator said. “It just gives them an opportunity to come together, build those relationships and those partnerships and to really focus on making sure that the work that we’re doing is serving our customers.”

This conference is a flagship event for workforce professionals, educators, community partners and thought leaders who are interested in shaping our region’s future of workforce development, economic growth and innovation.

Wissler explained that WIB uses data from the State Employment Development Department, as well as the data they collected from helping over 1,500 people through their own connection centers, and uses that data to understand what the challenges that both businesses and job seekers are facing in Tulare County.

“So we’re learning directly from the customers. What are their challenges? What are the things that they’re facing?… then we come up with innovative solutions to make sure that we are serving those customers the best way?” Wissler said.

According to the WIB website, the event’s schedule is:

7:30 – 8 a.m. Registration and Breakfast
8 – 8:45 a.m. Welcome and WIB annual meeting
8:45 – 9:45 a.m. Keynote speaker
10 – 10:50 a.m. Breakout session one
11 – 11:50 a.m. Breakout session two
12:15 – 1 p.m. Lunch and plenary activity
1 – 1:45 p.m. INNOVATORS by Design Awards
1:45 – 2 p.m. Closing remarks

The highlight of the event will be the keynote address by Brent Orrell, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Orrell specializes in job training and workforce development with a particular focus on disconnected and disadvantaged populations, including youth, justice-involved individuals, veterans and those with physical and mental limitations.

According to a press release from WIB, Orrell has been at the forefront of addressing workforce opportunities and challenges resulting from generative AI and automation. He also brings expertise in strategies for improving economic mobility in rural, redeveloping and non-metropolitan areas. 

The breakout sessions include topics such as: 

  • Regional Initiatives: Attendees can discover how the California Economic Resiliency Fund (CERF) shapes our regional economy and what it means for local businesses and job seekers. 
  • Healthcare next-generation sector partnership: This session will explore the future of the healthcare industry, workforce needs and collaborative efforts to address emerging challenges in healthcare employment. 
  • Customer journey map workshop: participants can learn how to create and utilize customer journey maps to enhance the user experience within organizational systems 
  • Pathways to apprenticeships: This session will give insights into apprenticeship programs, their role in workforce development and best practices for implementing successful apprenticeship initiatives. 
  • Re-engaging industry for work-based learning opportunities: Attendees can discuss strategies for reconnecting industry stakeholders with work-based learning programs to create valuable career pathways for local students.
  • Local economic development strategies impact on workforce development: This topic will explore the interplay between economic development strategies and workforce development, and how they influence the local job market. 


Early registration for INNOVATORS by Design is recommended, as seating is limited; although The Sun-Gazette was not able to confirm how many seats were available, less than 50 seats were remaining at the conference’s EventBrite posting as of report; tickets for general admission are retailing at $75.

According to WIB, the mission of the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County is to advance the economic vitality of Tulare County through strategic funding investments aimed at growing the skills and talent of our workforce. 

WIB brings funding to the region to convene industry, identify skills gaps and broker solutions that help local businesses find the skilled workforce they need to succeed. This project is funded by the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County, an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

More information about the conference can be found at www.tularewib.org/ibd.

Karis Caddell