A globalized marketplace, increasing automation, pressure for rapidly interchangeable work skills, an inconsistent regulatory climate and uncertainty about how to design educational systems to bring them up-to-date with the ways we build knowledge and process information in the context of constantly changing technology are a part of what makes today’s working environment challenging for employers and employees alike.The barriers are significant and can be structural, including historically low wages, insufficient funding for alternative development strategies, lack of affordable education, taxpayer resistance, and lack of inter-agency collaboration.
Some barriers are attributable to the environment, such as discrimination, stereotyping, persistent poverty and lack of opportunity. Still other barriers boil down to inadequate opportunities and resources for career planning and job skill development. The pervasiveness of such barriers threatens the welfare of potential workers, blocks opportunities to develop individual skills and breeds hopelessness.
Communities across Wisconsin are changing. New residents, new faces, and new ideas are helping to make our state a vibrant and diverse place to live. It is important that our communities and neighborhoods are safe and welcoming to all regardless of background, heritage and ability, so that all residents can call their community “home.” The “Creating Inclusive Communities” track will address the following questions and more:
- What are the key characteristics of an inclusive community?
- How are we succeeding or failing in creating and sustaining inclusive and diverse communities in Wisconsin? What do we measure to answer that question?
- What neighborhood- and community-based efforts have made a difference in making our communities more welcoming for diverse residents?
- What are the similarities and differences in the challenges facing urban and rural communities?
- What challenges and opportunities exist for churches and religious organizations to have a public role in addressing diversity?
- How can law enforcement and criminal justice systems help create a more inclusive community climate?
- How can we effectively measure and evaluate efforts towards community inclusivity?
If we hope to have a society that is inclusive, fully employed, maximally productive, and celebratory of diversity generally, we must allocate resources and energy towards the success of the next generation of leaders. Along with the challenges, there are opportunities. Effective after school programs, innovative career exploration and preparation, co-curricular apprenticeships and dual enrollment are just a few of the many positive initiatives that are helping lay the groundwork for success for all youth regardless of background.
How do we help all residents of Wisconsin attain their highest level of health? Health Equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to reach their optimal level of well-being and health. Although ensuring accessible, affordable health care for all is an important component, we know upstream social determinants play an even greater role in determining health outcomes. Health inequities are created when barriers such as poverty and discrimination and their consequences prevent individuals and communities from reaching their full health potential. To further the vision for health equity in Wisconsin, Track 4 will examine health disparities and obstacles to health and highlight concrete solutions to address Wisconsin’s health disparities based on race, economic status, gender/sexual identity, disability, education level, criminal justice, and geographic location. We will prioritize proposals focusing on solutions to overcome inequities that lead to health disparities in Wisconsin.