“This report builds on an earlier National Fund evaluation report that focused on three areas of systems change engaged in by collaboratives and partnerships: public policy change, institutional change, and changes in employer practices. This publication extends the examination of systems change efforts and reflects an expanded, more nuanced understanding of systems change as it is achieved through the Fund. It helps to clarify the concept of systems change as it applies to workforce development by describing the National Fund’s framework for understanding systems change. The framework, developed with National Fund collaborative directors, includes changes to educational and workforce development systems, employer practices, federal and state policies, and investments, as well as changes in funder perspectives and investments. (The framework is later described in more detail.) The report describes examples in each of these areas of the framework.
The report elucidates findings of a 2013 survey of National Fund collaboratives, which found that making systems change was one of the ways that collaboratives had been most successful in their work. Among their most significant achievements, collaboratives noted realizing significant changes in public policy, developing new demand-driven workforce partnership models, and building new regional leadership mechanisms to catalyze change and promote workforce innovation.
Evidence of systems change is drawn from collaboratives and communities across the country, working in a variety of industry sectors. These examples demonstrate some of the steps undertaken by communities to move toward and achieve systems change, such as convening groups that have never interacted previously; improving communication structures among employers, education/training providers, and job seekers; and experimenting with changes in employer practice. The report also describes a number of ways that employers are showing leadership in acting to support the advancement of frontline workers, and surveys how the work of National Fund communities continues to influence public policy and investments. This research adds a less commonly considered element of systems change, how funders’ perspectives and activities are altered as a result of their participation in National Fund activities.” (p.2).