Provides a framework to engage employers, build deeper partnerships, and align workforce programs with employer needs; identifies the challenges for collaboration; and more specifically, the framework considers the different goals and dimensions of employer engagement, a central strategy of New Skills at Work.

“Engaging employers is an important strategy for workforce development programs; it can help align programs with employer needs so participants can secure jobs (Barnow and Spaulding 2015; Maguire et al. 2010). The public workforce system has sought to engage employers for several decades, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 strongly emphasizes the importance of partnering with employers.

This brief offers a simple framework that lays out why workforce programs engage employers and why employers engage with workforce programs. It specifies how employers are involved with workforce programs and describes the challenges for both sides. This framework can help workforce organizations sharpen their thinking about employer engagement and their goals for such partnerships” (p.1).

 “Despite the many reasons employers and workforce programs rely on each other, their collaborations encounter persistent challenges…difficulties workforce organizations face” include: competition for funding, visibility, and employer involvement; lack of capacity to effectively engage employers; and a struggle to respond quickly with enough flexibility to meet employer needs.

Common barriers employers face include: not seeing the value of partnerships, the concern for costs over benefits, and potential for poorly organized services; and wariness of working with government and non-profit organizations or with other employers.

Mutual challenges are described as: “employer engagement…can be resource intensive;” and require significant time to help workforce organizations and employer to reduce the information gap to address needs.  Working with target populations, scale, and timing are also other challenges address in the framework outlined to organize and understand the goals and related employer engagement activities.

(Abstractor: Author)