Q&A WITH BOARD MEMBER RICHARD JOHNSON
Richard Johnson joined the board in 2016 and currently serves on the Business and Economic Development Committee.
Q: What is your profession, and how does it intersect with workforce development?
A: My current profession is as the Employment Program Manager II who oversees the employment services provided through the Employment Development Department’s (EDD) Workforce Services Branch (WSB). We have 15 employment program representatives (EPR’s) who provide in-person and virtual employment services to the public, and two managers who oversee the many programs that we deliver to the public.
We have co-enrollments with our Title 1 partners, for many similar programs for Trade Act Assistance, veterans, and youth. We also work together to provide rapid response presentations for employers and job seekers when companies are laying off a significant portion of their workforce and work with the business community to assist with and promote job fairs to help employers with their hiring needs. We also refer customers to our Title I partners for training, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training programs, and other community- based programs and services. We assist customers who need to connect with other branches of EDD for services such as unemployment, disability insurance, paid family leave and the tax branch. Especially during the COVID pandemic for the past two years, these services were a critical lifeline for customers needing help.
Q: Why do you choose to serve on the WDBCCC?
A: I am the EDD WSB representative for the Title III Wagner-Peyser grant. EDD WSB is a mandatory partner at America’s Job Center of California and the WDBCCC.
Q: What aspects of your board service are you most passionate about?
A: I am passionate about promoting the quality EDD services we provide for employers and job seekers, and our collaboration with our partners and the business community to have a combined broader impact on the employer and job seeker communities. I am also passionate about ensuring that we provide human-centered and excellent customer services to the public and coordinate effectively in our partnerships. For the EDD WSB, we are also the sponsors for the local Employer Advisory Council and Experience Unlimited programs, which help both businesses and professional job seekers.
Q: How is the WDB working to achieve equity in workforce development?
A: It is a tremendous privilege and responsibility to work with employers and other partners on the WDBCCC to help promote equity in hiring. We work closely with the WDBCCC and our Title I partners, in employer summits, to educate employers on the tax grants and other benefits for hiring a more diverse workforce, including veterans, youth, returning citizens, individuals with disabilities or other barriers to employment.
We also help achieve equity by helping to level the playing field for candidates through our career coaching and workshops to help candidates understand the labor market, explain the skills that employers are looking for, and how to articulate their skills and experience that makes them the ideal candidate to meet the employer’s needs. Our work is especially important for marginalized communities, or people with disabilities, who are often overlooked by employers, or recruiters, or who don’t have a role model or someone to help them understand how to achieve their employment goals.