People of color represent the majority of America’s future workforce. Yet, when compared to their white peers, these individuals are generally less likely to be engaged in school or work as young adults; are earning fewer postsecondary credentials and smaller paychecks; and are more likely to experience unemployment.
One promising channel for addressing America’s equity challenges? Workforce development, with its focus on building skills and credentials. In particular, sector partnerships — regional coalitions of employers and their partners that work together to solve specific industry challenges — have emerged as effective laboratories of innovation in this field.
This report explores the role that sector partnerships can play in narrowing race-based disparities in education, skills acquisition, employment and income. It utilizes input from more than 90 individuals representing sector partnerships across the nation and in a range of industries. Readers will learn what — if anything — these partnerships are doing to address race-based disparities and how workforce development practitioners and supporters can help accelerate their success.
Seven opportunities at the intersection of racial equity and workforce development
Findings & Stats
While 68% of qualified respondents reported that their sector partnership had set at least one goal for advancing diversity, equity, or inclusion for people of color, only 30.5% of respondents could cite specific benefits of this work.
Interview participants reported that their sector partnerships were tackling race equity in three main ways. These were: 1) leading by example; 2) guiding people of color to promising pathways; and 3) steering businesses toward equitable practices.
In the survey, 35.5% of respondents noted challenges in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Two top-cited challenges facing partnerships were: 1) low stakeholder uptake; and 2) insufficient funding.
Statements & Quotations
Sector partnerships want to model the diversity, equity, and inclusion that they are promoting to their business and community partners, yet many reported that they struggle to do so.
Most partnerships are in the early stages of this work and hungry for resources — both financial and informational — that can help them accelerate their progress.