DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson took a step Monday, Jan. 10 toward his much talked about workforce development goals.
He named Lynn McBee as his Workforce Czar to help boost upskilling efforts.
The plan is for McBee to implement the recommendations of the mayor’s workforce development report, “Upskilling Dallas: How to Modernize the City’s Workforce for the Jobs of Tomorrow,” released in November 2021.
The report found a need for more initiatives and resources for training and education programs for working-age adults.
Mayor Johnson and McBee said during a news conference Monday that expanding, improving, coordinating, and promoting workforce development programs will be crucial to the city’s longstanding efforts to grow southern Dallas by taking a people-focused approach to economic development.
“Workforce development is one of the most important and least discussed issues of our time,” Mayor Johnson said. “But now, it is time for us to make upskilling a top priority in Dallas and come together to build the workforce of the future — one that will attract and grow businesses, build equity, and sustain our city’s outstanding economic growth for years to come.”
Mayor Johnson called McBee “an ideal fit” for the Workforce Czar position, citing her education leadership experience, longtime homeless solutions advocacy, and other volunteer and civic work in Dallas.
McBee, who worked for decades as a research scientist, currently serves as Co-Chair of the Board of For Oak Cliff and is a Trustee for the Dallas College Foundation.
She has also served on civic boards, including as chair of The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, The Family Place, and the Visiting Nurse Association.
As Workforce Czar, McBee will be responsible for building and executing strategies to implement the report’s recommendations, including establishing formal agreements with existing workforce development organizations, such as Dallas College, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas and other providers.
She’ll also work to refine and implement programs that help working-age adults secure better jobs. And, she’ll work closely with the Mayor’s Office to communicate workforce training opportunities to key audiences and track workforce development progress.
“I’m excited to work with Mayor Johnson on this issue that’s so important to our city, our families and our future. Workforce development will not only lift families and communities and create more opportunity and growth, but it also addresses equity, it’s a step forward in eliminating racial barriers, and it’s key to ending systemic cycles of poverty,” said McBee, who serves as CEO of Young Women’s Preparatory Network.
According to the Upskilling Dallas report, which was produced by research and management consulting firm Cicero Group and funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, working-age adults make up over 35% of the city’s population.
About 40% of households in Dallas are considered low-income, with the greatest disparities among minority groups including Black, Hispanic and female-led households.
More than 30% of all households headed by single women are below the poverty line, increasing to more than 40% if a woman has children.
The report also showed an unequal distribution of workers in “good jobs” by race, with white workers holding 54% of family-sustaining wage jobs, while Black and Hispanic workers hold only 15% and 16%, respectively. The report also showed that jobs held by Hispanic workers represent more than 40% of the jobs facing high automation risk.
“Successful workforce development is not just about improving individuals’ career paths,” Mayor Johnson said. “It is about changing the trajectory of our city, creating growth and opportunity for all, and making Dallas a truly equitable city of the future.”