Reviews sector strategies and pathway approaches, including evaluation evidence to explain the widespread adoption of these models. Seen as a promising strategy for regional economic development, this paper describes the use of these demand-driven models to attract and retain targeted industries; discusses challenges to the growth of sector strategies; and provides policy and program recommendations at the local, state, and federal level.

“This paper reviews what [is known] about sector-based training strategies to date, and why they have become…popular….It also reviews several major challenges to expanding them while trying to maintain their quality….The paper concludes with a number of policy recommendations in light of the challenges sector-based strategies face” (p.i).

In the first section of the paper, the author argues that sector strategies have become more popular because of several factors:

·         “Evaluation evidence of programs funded by the Job Training Partnership Act…showed modestly positive impacts on earnings for adults that tended to fade with time, while those for youth were zero or even negative” (p.3).

·         “Workforce practitioners and policy advocates…came to see the value of a ‘dual customer’ approach in which employers as well as disadvantaged workers are seen as clients…” (p.3).

·         [G]overnors began to see sectoral training as…part of the benefits provided by the state” to employers” (p.4).

·         “[E]mployers in key sectors…became increasingly and vocally dissatisfied with their own abilities to recruit and retain skilled workers…” (p.4).

The author then reviews the research that supports or challenges these statements.

In the second section of the paper, the author details some of the “…major challenges involved in bringing [demand-driven training] programs to a scale sufficient to…improve outcomes for less-educated workers, while maintaining program quality. For instance, some workers might not have sufficient basic or employability skills to be able to master the training (often of a technical nature); and sometimes the training might be too narrow or specific to be portable to other firms and economic sectors when they change jobs. In addition, practitioners might have difficulty replicating and scaling the most successful models observed elsewhere; and identifying high-demand sectors and jobs over time while meeting their evolving skill needs might be difficult as well” (p.1).

In the third section of the paper, the author provides recommendations for programs and policy makers.

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Full Publication Title: Sector-Based Training Strategies: The Challenges Of Matching Workers And Their Skills To Well-Paying Jobs


Major Findings & Recommendations

The author recommends the following overarching strategies to promote and support the expansion of sector-based training strategies: • “A wide range of public efforts…to incentivize and assist community colleges and employers – on both the supply and demand sides of the market – to create both better-paying jobs and the workers with the skills to fill them; • Efforts to scale these approaches and make them systemic, by encouraging participation in a range of partnerships and consortia…; • …[E]xperiment with and rigorously evaluate a range of such efforts at the state and local levels, while continuously providing feedback to both on ‘best practices’ based on these evaluations; • …[W]ork to create a mix of general and specific skills and credentials that the labor market rewards over the short-term and long-term; • Workforce preparation efforts should begin earlier, with high-quality and universal career and technical education in middle schools and high schools, while also providing much better opportunities for adults to update their skills later in their lives through ‘lifelong learning’ options; and • Innovative efforts of states to forecast the demand for and supply of skills in fast-changing economic environments, and to adjust their partnerships accordingly…” (p.18). Some of the specific reforms the author recommends include: • “…reforms in ‘developmental education’ and also in accreditation processes, to make sure that less-demanding certificate programs with labor market value are accessible to Pell grant recipients. Effective ‘bridge’ programs…[to] help [students] prepare before they arrive on campus, thus mitigating the need for developmental education” (p.16). • “Providing more high-quality [career and technical education]...[where students are not tracked] away from higher education; instead, they provide a range of ‘pathways’ to college and/or careers for all students…” (p.17). • “…[universal] career exploration…earlier – to inform students about the usefulness of various kinds of skill development and better motivate them in the process” (p.17). • “A range of methods, using both financial incentives (like grants and tax credits as well as preferences in receiving government procurement contracts) and technical assistance might help” local, state, and federal governments better “engage employers in training partnerships…” (p.18). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)