Describes the evolution of sector strategies, outlines key elements for the successful involvement of the public workforce system in sector partnerships, and documents the process by which six Workforce Development Boards—in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, New York, and Oregon—implemented sector strategies.

“The [authors]…sought to contribute to the literature regarding sector strategies by identifying five Workforce Development Boards that have successfully implemented sector strategies, interviewing individuals involved with each effort, and documenting each effort via a case study. The aim of this research was to document the processes by which these workforce boards have adopted a sector‐based approach and the roles they have taken on in doing so. Ultimately, this collection is intended to provide guidance for workforce boards nationally as they adapt to the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act [(WIOA)]” (p.ii).

“This paper begins by briefly touching on the evolution of [sector] strategies, followed by a discussion of the roles that the public workforce system—and particularly local Workforce Development Boards (workforce boards)—can play in advancing sector strategies within the context of WIOA. Next, [the authors] discuss several elements, identified in the literature and through observation that [they] determine to be critical to the success of sector strategies, including:  

· The rigorous use of data to inform decision‐making at the sector partnership level;  

· A high level of industry engagement in the operations of the partnership;  

· The delivery of services that are specific to sector‐based partnerships;  

· Close attention paid to sustainability and continuous‐improvement; and  

· Significant investments in building the capacity of partnership staff to manage the partnership. 

Each of these elements are illustrated by examples extant in the field and documented through interviews conducted both for this analysis as well as for prior research. [The report’s] list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but [the authors] believe that it is a representative list of the innovation taking place in this rapidly evolving field. Finally, the report concludes with brief case studies that illustrate the sector strategies experiences of six workforce investment boards that represent a diverse range of geographies, industry interests, and experience: Hampton Roads, Virginia; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Kingman, Arizona; Larimer, Colorado; New York City, New York; and Portland, Oregon” (p.6).

(Abstractor: Author)

Full publication title: Promoting the Adoption of Sector Strategies by Workforce Development Boards Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Major Findings & Recommendations

“Among the key roles workforce boards…can play in advancing sector strategies are: • Conveners. Many workforce boards have come to understand that sometimes the best way to lead is from behind, and so have limited their involvement in sector strategies to something of a bare minimum of roles, namely simply convening and providing meeting space for industry representatives and sector partners to gather. • Fiscal agents. Other workforce boards, however, capitalize on their fiscal functions in the workforce development arena to serve as fiscal agents for sector strategies, including managing funding streams and pursuing grants, among other duties. • Systems Change Drivers. Some boards leverage their long‐standing relationships with education, training, and supportive services providers to drive new approaches to service delivery and cultivate systems change. • Data Brokers. Less common (but soon to be more so with the implementation of WIOA), some workforce boards have taken advantage of their access to data, particularly administrative records, to enable the data‐driven decision making essential to sustainability and continuous improvement of sector strategies” (p.11-12). The report also provides various recommendations to help strengthen sector strategies. “These recommendations are categorized according to four themes…including engaging industry, entrepreneurial financing, new approaches to service delivery, and leveraging data for decision making, performance management, and sustainability” (p.20). Examples include: • Industry engagement: “Initially engaging a core group of sector strategies champions and allowing them to set the agenda for the partnership and, crucially, to recruit additional employers themselves.” (p. 20). • Financing: “Leveraging public and business investments to secure flexible, aligned funding from philanthropic partners” (p. 20). • Systems change: “Generating support and funding from state level agencies, particularly given the tendency for many of the more successful sector programs to develop in the context of a supportive state policy and funding environment” (p.21). • Utilizing data: “Ensure the collection of data in such a way that it can be analyzed as part of a rigorous experimental or quasi‐experimental evaluation” (p.22). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)