Examines the role of employer partnerships in skill-building efforts, the economic outcomes of these partnerships and discusses various policy considerations in building and sustaining such partnerships.
“The current economic climate in the United States and the difficulty employers face in hiring and maintaining a skilled workforce in an increasingly competitive and global economy have generated interest in developing and promoting policies and programs that can most effectively help low-skill individuals gain job skills and move up the economic ladder, while also enhancing the viability and competitiveness of businesses. Employer involvement is critical to the success of these policies and programs. This paper explores the reasons why employer partnerships are important for improving economic outcomes for both low-skill workers and businesses. It identifies the factors that have hindered the growth of these partnerships as well as promising approaches—incumbent worker training and sectoral training—to build partnerships. It concludes with a discussion of policy considerations for creating and sustaining partnerships with employers to provide skill development opportunities.”

Major Findings & Recommendations

“This paper’s examination of initiatives that successfully secure and sustain employer involvement in skills development finds a number of commonly used strategies, such as the following: • Developing an understanding of employers’ workforce needs. A common lesson from many employer-oriented skill-building initiatives is the need for an in-depth knowledge of the business or industry sector involved in the effort (Clymer, 2007; DworakMunoz, 2004)” (p.13). • “Emphasizing issues important to businesses. Involving employers requires talking to them in their own language and focusing on the payoff from training. It includes discussing the effects of training on the bottom line, return on investment and reduced employee turnover, as well as the opportunity to be a leader in the business community (Conway, 2004) ” (p.13). • “Considering carefully which industries and employers to include in the partnership. A wide range of businesses should be considered for involvement in training partnerships, but it is important to be selective in identifying both industries and individual employers with which to work. • “Obtaining employer contributions to the project, at least in the long run. Employers’ willingness to contribute to skills development initiatives indicates that they value the services and understand that they meet a business need. A key indicator of effective, sustainable relationships with employers is the level of resources the employer dedicates to the training effort (DworakMunoz, 2004)” (p.13). • “Involving employers in key aspects of service design and provision. When employers are involved in designing and delivering training, they have a greater stake in its outcomes and the success of participants. Involving employers in service design and delivery also increases employer confidence in the skills training itself and the workers who receive it (Roder, 2008)” (p.14). • “Demonstrating effectiveness to employers. Studies of the outcomes of training partnerships can be used to demonstrate their effectiveness and raise awareness of their benefits to the business community, policymakers, program administrators and the public” (p.14). • “Providing high-quality services. Employers that have participated in training partnerships indicate that they prefer programs that are carefully constructed, thoughtfully administered and consistently committed to quality (Clymer, 2007) ” (p.14). • “Developing stable funding sources. Resources for training programs are an important incentive for employers to participate, but adequate long-term funding is necessary to sustain these partnerships. Although employer contributions are important, employers are unlikely to pay the full cost of the services (particularly for pre-employment training, when they are unsure of worker quality), so other resources must be secured” (p.14). “Developing partnerships with employers to provide training responsive to business needs is a promising strategy for improving the employment prospects for low-skill workers and increasing business productivity. Incumbent worker training and sectoral training programs also can improve the availability of and access to training for those with low skills” (p.15).