Embracing Sector Strategies: Workforce Boards Share Lessons
Workforce development boards have an important role to play in advancing sector strategies, which can help low-income, low-skilled job seekers obtain the training and credentials necessary to plug into regional labor markets, according to new report funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
It will require a shift away from business as usual, however. Workforce boards must move beyond administering and overseeing programs to working more collaboratively with partners to cultivate regional talent pipelines and equip job seekers with the skills necessary to secure meaningful careers with local employers, according to Promoting the Adoption of Sector Strategies by Workforce Development Boards Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
To support this move, the publication, which the Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources released in March 2017, shares key insights from five workforce development boards across the country that have successfully implemented sector strategies. Lessons include:
- involving employers in a structured and continuous manner, instead of a sporadic process, to keep them engaged in local workforce efforts;
- examining ways to blend resources from a variety of local, state and federal funding streams;
- developing relationships with direct service providers to assist with child care, transportation, housing and other barriers that job seekers might face; and
- using unemployment insurance wage data to track participant outcomes as workers move through the labor market.
“We hope this publication will fill a gap in the public workforce field,” says Foundation Senior Associate Allison Gerber. “While there are a great deal of workforce development tools and evidence aimed at nonprofit and community college practitioners, as well as state advocates and policymakers, there is little guidance for local system partners looking to scale these promising approaches.”
The report also aims to help workforce boards adapt to the Workforce Innovation Opportunities Act, passed in 2014. This legislation includes several important provisions — including an emphasis on sector strategies — designed to strengthen the nation’s workforce development system.