The Rural Reason to Focus on Workforce Policy with Manny Lamarre, Mary Wurtz and Andrew Campbell

Season #6

In the first episode in our sixth series, Pathways and Policies to Ensure Rural Learners Succeed in Place and Why it’s Essential for America’s Future, we begin our episode The Rural Reason to Focus on Workforce Policy with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training for the U.S. Department of Labor, Manny Lamarre. DAS Lamarre’s experience spans across workforce development policy, program, and research across the federal, state and local levels. After previously serving as a Governor appointee, he is now a political appointee leading key workforce policies and programs including sector-based initiatives and investments, Registered Apprenticeships, Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, industry engagement and Artificial Intelligence.

During this discussion DAS Lamarre shares the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s mission and vision for opportunities for vulnerable populations and communities, industry partnerships, care economy including long term care, short term care, and childcare, and the future of work. Michelle and DAS Lamarre also discuss how the ETA is engaging with rural communities, rural workforce opportunities, grants and initiatives, partnerships, as well as strengthening civic engagement and public sector employment through apprenticeships.

In the second half of this episode, Michelle talks with Mary Wurtz, a Policy Analyst at The Council of State Governments, specializing in registered apprenticeship and other work-based learning opportunities. While at CSG, Mary has provided technical assistance to support public sector apprenticeship programs in Maine, Idaho and Colorado to facilitate new career pathways into public service for low-income, historically underserved communities. Also, in this conversation Michelle speaks with Andrew Campbell, Policy Program Manager in the Research to Action Lab at the Urban Institute. In his role, he contributes specialized knowledge and project leadership to a range of research, technical assistance (TA), and philanthropic advising engagements focused on workforce development and inclusive economic mobility. Campbell is also a core contributor to Urban’s body of work on apprenticeship programs, where he has helped lead a partnership with the Council of State Governments focused on the expansion of public sector apprenticeships in state and local government.

In this second part, Mary, Andrew, and Michelle discuss workforce challenges and opportunities in the rural public sector, how apprenticeship removes barriers for individuals to access quality jobs, the myths and facts around apprenticeship, technical assistance tools and resources for employers, and how CSG and Urban Institute are working together to use the grant received from Ascendium Education Group on a three year pilot program to work directly with two states to build out apprenticeship programs in state and local government.

This episode of The Rural Impact podcast is sponsored by Ascendium. Ascendium believes that learning after high school has the power to transform lives. Driven by this belief, their philanthropy focuses on systemic change to elevate opportunity for learners from low-income backgrounds. Ascendium has a special interest in elevating rural postsecondary education and workforce training. They fund research and resources that can be used to ensure more rural learners have pathways to good jobs that lead to upward mobility. Want to connect with Ascendium? Visit their website at, sign up for their newsletter, and follow them on social media.