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Letter from the Editor: Workforce Development Sector Partnerships

Workforce development programs that train low-income individuals for jobs in higher-wage industries can impact their employment and earnings[1].   But key to the success of these programs are the relationships between employers and training providers. Known as sector partnerships, these connections can result in highly tailored training curriculums, which ensure that participants have the constantly-evolving skills and certificates necessary to work in a particular industry. These partnerships also result in connections with employers who are willing to employ program graduates. Sectoral strategies are now part of national policy, as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) act, which provides funding for workforce programs, identifies sector partnerships as a priority.  

Intermediaries play an important role in laying the groundwork to support these sector partnerships. In addition to financing the construction of physical infrastructure needed for training programs, they can also act as liaison between training providers and sectoral partners, often providing meeting space and logistical support for these collaborations. Intermediaries are also key to engaging outside players to support these efforts, often leveraging additional private and public dollars through their advocacy efforts. Lastly, they can be an important piece to ensuring programs are developed in a way that meets the needs of the community by weighing in on curriculum development, providing research support to identify industry trends and hiring needs, and reporting on impact and outcomes.  

In this Spotlight on Sector Partnerships in Workforce Development we’ve compiled examples of these partnerships, as well as resources and tools to help Community Development practitioners replicate this work. You can learn more about the Arrowhead Manufacturers Training Program in Duluth, which creates a direct pathway to local, light manufacturing jobs, in this Q&A. We’ve also featured a new white paper from the LISC Research and Evaluation team exploring how to connect industrial district revitalization with local workforce efforts. Visitors will also find resources like this toolkit on employer engagement from the Aspen Institute, and a sector partnership policy toolkit from the National Skills Coalition.   

[1] Hendra, R., Greenberg, D. H., Hamilton, G., Oppenheim, A., Pennington, A., Schaberg, K., & Tessler, B. L. (2016). Encouraging evidence on a sector-focused advancement strategy: Two-year impacts from the WorkAdvance demonstration. New York: MDRC.