Getting Systems in Sync: Leveraging Collective Impact Strategies to Connect People With Jobs

Posted May 14, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog gettingsystemsinsync 2016

Improv­ing job oppor­tu­ni­ties on a broad scale for youth and adults fac­ing obsta­cles to employ­ment is not just about good pro­grams. It requires pub­lic edu­ca­tion, employ­ment and human ser­vice sys­tems to iden­ti­fy spe­cif­ic, com­mon goals; to make and coor­di­nate invest­ments to sup­port those goals; and to track their progress toward achiev­ing them.

The chal­lenge in the work­force devel­op­ment world is that there is no one sys­tem but a myr­i­ad of pub­lic, pri­vate and non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions and agen­cies focused on prepar­ing low-income indi­vid­u­als for, and con­nect­ing them with, jobs. Each may serve dif­fer­ent groups of peo­ple, pur­sue dif­fer­ent strate­gies, define dif­fer­ent results and col­lect dif­fer­ent types of data. These real­i­ties have con­tributed to the work­force devel­op­ment field’s strug­gle to help address the per­sis­tent inequities in unem­ploy­ment, wages or eco­nom­ic mobil­i­ty for peo­ple of col­or and oth­ers with lim­it­ed access to opportunity.

But this com­pli­cat­ed land­scape could be ripe for employ­ing col­lec­tive impact strate­gies — mul­ti­sec­tor, col­lab­o­ra­tive efforts that pro­duce bet­ter results and solve spe­cif­ic social prob­lems by align­ing agen­das, invest­ments and mea­sures of suc­cess. A new Foun­da­tion paper, Col­lec­tive Impact in Work­force Devel­op­ment, explores this idea, draw­ing from inter­views with work­force devel­op­ment experts to high­light areas where col­lec­tive impact strate­gies can be help­ful and where they run up against chal­lenges. The paper offers exam­ples of mul­ti­sec­tor col­lab­o­ra­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions for imple­ment­ing such strate­gies for fun­ders, pol­i­cy­mak­ers and orga­ni­za­tions focused on employ­ment and train­ing — along with a good dose of real­ism about the poten­tial for bring­ing work­force sys­tem play­ers together.

The paper could pro­vide a good start­ing point for the work­force devel­op­ment field to strate­gize about how to bet­ter align pro­grams, resources and knowl­edge to achieve greater and bet­ter results for young peo­ple and adults striv­ing to gain a sol­id foothold in our country’s workforce.

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