Bryan Seck

Bryan Seck is the Director of Workforce Development for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development. He participated in a panel discussion on social connection as a part of Civic Nebraska’s series on Civic Health.

Bryan Seck’s community is anyone who wants to maximize their potential but might not know exactly how. His background as Homeless Outreach Specialist for Lincoln Public Schools led him to his cornerstone belief in equity- that given the opportunity, everyone can be as successful as they want to be. “I’m always thinking about how do we help families that are struggling connect to the services they need, connect to the careers that they desire.” He brings this perspective to his work in workforce development in Lincoln.

In a changing workforce landscape in Nebraska with more automation and a retiring boomer generation, Bryan sees social connectedness as being important so that people aren’t left behind. “Five years out (from now) there will be fewer entry-level jobs in Lincoln.”

He says connectedness in his work comes back to knowing how to find connect to jobs, how to connect to resources, and connecting to neighbors. In fact, a 2016 report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that neighborly connection is an important act of workforce development, finding that upwards of 70 percent of people have found their current jobs through a personal connection.

“How can we tell the neighbor about the better job? Because if people don’t know about the better jobs, the jobs simply don’t exist, so that’s how I think about connectivity.”

So how do we create the environment for connection to occur? Bryan says he takes responsibility for that. In workforce development, he hosts EmployLNK, which is a monthly meeting of all the different agencies and non-profits that focus on workforce that also invites employers to connect. Through these efforts, the Lincoln community is able to create a network where people looking for jobs, case managers, and employers are connected. The connections formed increased efficiency, minimizing the need for cold calls and reducing costs to Bryan’s programming. “We run all kinds of events with 0 dollars because the employers and businesses see the value in it.”

Making Lincoln’s hundreds of resources and non-profits available to everyone means making resources accessible in multiple languages and with or without internet connection. MyLNK is a mobile app that allows people to search for resources in Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Somali and works offline so people can access it even without wifi or mobile data.

Bryan suggests connectors in the community wanting to meet the needs of the community start by getting together with trusted contacts and also as many diverse perspectives as possible.

“The surest way to not be successful is to get one or two people only and expect everyone else to bend to your will,” said Bryan. “We decreased homelessness by 53% over the last five years, and it wasn’t due to more money. It was due to better coordination between the housing agencies and the outreach agencies.”

His advice: “Build your team. Make sure the need is there. Then go.”

Why does Civic Health matter?

Strong Democracy
Our country’s system of governance relies on the civic knowledge and participation of the people to govern effectively. Through cultivating relationships with our neighbors and engaging in discourse and action on shared priorities, we cultivate the habits and mindsets central to sustaining a democratic society.

Health and Wellbeing
Increasing evidence suggests that civic health is at the heart of thriving communities and overall well-being. Time spent with friends, family, and neighbors make a living in a place meaningful, but is also linked to improved mental and physical health. Even seemingly small actions, such as having dinner as a household, giving a ride to a coworker, or organizing a block party, are civic actions that contribute to health and wellness, especially in times of need.

Economic Prosperity
Civically healthy communities position residents, neighborhoods, and towns for economic prosperity. Job seekers often find opportunities through social connections and entrepreneurs rely on their networks for mentorship and investment. Cities and towns that create a sense of belonging for all residents and come together to make smart investments in the community are better positioned to attract and retain a talented workforce. Representative power, inclusive engagement, and connections that bridge different groups within the community help ensure that development provides equitable access to opportunities for all people and all geographies.

Community Development
Civic health is important to completing community projects that increase quality of life and solve local problems. Whether it be building workforce housing in Stuart or renovating Gene Leahy Mall in downtown Omaha, successful efforts are powered from within by volunteers who rally around a common cause. Democratic involvement in these communities extends beyond managing differing opinions, but rather builds the capacity to work together and sustain action on important issues.

Nebraskans are eager to see upcoming generations form good civic habits and a care for the community around them. People across Nebraska work hard to provide opportunities for youth to be involved in community life because they believe it is an important facet of a person’s character and ultimately living a good life.