How Are Sector Strategies Connecting People With Work?

Posted January 15, 2019, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Health-care workers

For nearly three decades, the Casey Foundation has invested in sector-based workforce strategies to help low-income job seekers secure meaningful careers that lift them out of poverty. Sector strategies focus on the needs of local employers in growing industries and prepare individuals with the skills and credentials to meet them. They are an effective way to strengthen regional labor markets and create a more equitable distribution of jobs and wealth.

What is a sector strategy?

A sector is a cluster of businesses within a similar industry, such as health care or construction. Sector strategies seek to understand the hiring needs of these businesses, introduce employers to new labor sources — often from low-income communities — and, where needed, develop skills-training programs to help people compete for quality positions.

The common elements of an effective sector strategy include:

  • engagement with employers in high-growth industries to understand and address their labor force needs;
  • quality workforce programming that equips participants with targeted skill development and industry-recognized certifications;
  • wraparound services, including child care, transportation, housing and peer support, to address the barriers job seekers face; and
  • a commitment to monitoring and tracking participant outcomes.

“Sector-specific approaches not only produce the skilled laborers that businesses need, but in doing so, expand opportunity for job seekers who traditionally haven’t had a pathway to well-paying careers,” says Allison Gerber, a senior associate at the Casey Foundation. “These strategies are an effective tool to help young people, low-income workers and other untapped talent plug into their local economies.”

The following resources offer lessons and recommendations gleaned from Casey’s investments in sector strategies.

Sector Strategies and Workforce Development

Using Sector Strategies to Address Racial Disparities

Preparing Young People for Workforce Success