Reports on the third year (2010) of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), which is an initiative of national and local funders (including Local Workforce Investment Boards) whose goal is the career advancement of low-wage workers using a model of substantial employer engagement to increase the potential for successful outcomes.
This third report on the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) documents progress that the initiative has made in its third year of operation. The project had 24 sites in 19 states. The author states that "In 2010, there was a major increase in public funding to many of the collaboratives from a large federal grant. The National Fund almost reached its overall goal for number of employers served, and it provided services to more than 18,000 participants, with increasing percentages of participants receiving occupational credentials and licenses and being placed into employment" (p. iii). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

"Over 21 funding collaboratives were organized with the expectation that several more will soon join the initiative. The number of workforce partnerships will therefore likely grow from the current 37, putting NFWS on track to achieve its goal of serving 50,000 low-income workers and 1,000 employers. 37 workforce partnerships served a total of 6,306 individuals. At least 45 percent of participants had a high school diploma or less; almost half were African-American. The partnerships also served 504 employers, slightly over half the NFWS goal. Many participants were provided “intensive” training and non-training services consistent with career advancement strategies; partnerships reported providing 7,739 training units to participants, though some participants received more than one type of training service. System change accomplishments for collaboratives included increased funding for training for low-income workers, new training programs and improved articulation agreements among educational institutions; and changes in employer practices, such as pre-payment of tuition for incumbent workers to return to school, employer funding for basic skills training, and greater flexibility in work schedules for incumbent workers attending classes. ...essential questions were raised as the collaboratives and partnerships put the NFWS principles into practice. These questions included how to understand the concept of 'workforce intermediary,' the tension between serving an industry sector and serving low-income workers, how to engage employers, and the role of the public sector in achieving scale and sustainability. Finally, the scale and scope of the initiative are challenging. As NFWS brings on 100 or more workforce partnerships – many which lack the knowledge or experience in implementing career advancement strategies, the National Fund will likely need to intensify technical assistance efforts. Five of the NFWS collaboratives (Baltimore, the Bay Area, Boston, New York, and Pennsylvania) had previously participated in the Investing in Workforce Intermediaries project, a direct predecessor that tested the NFWS principles. There are indicators that these collaboratives have become important regional players within their labor markets, creating a greater emphasis on sector approaches, career advancement strategies, and increased private and public investments in workforce development" (p. 10). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)