Presents nine strategies to promote economic development and workforce advancement based on the experiences of seven regional groups—composed of private industry, government, and community-based organizations—in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, New York, and Texas.

“Seven regional teams were selected competitively in July 2015 to participate in Communities that Work Partnership [CTWP] peer learning and leadership development work facilitated by the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Strategies Initiative [AspenWSI] and FutureWorks….The partners are collaborating to advance a range of different industry-led workforce development strategies, leveraging resources available through their existing funding and, in some cases, business in-kind or financial contributions. AspenWSI and FutureWorks documented their efforts in order to accelerate learning in the field that has the potential to inform public and private investments in talent development and public policy that supports promising approaches” (p.4).

“Leaders of seven regional partnerships — in Buffalo, New York; Phoenix, Arizona; Houston, Texas; the San Francisco Bay area in California; northwest Georgia; New York City; and Washington, DC — explored strategies aimed at developing the local workforce for different industries and occupations….In addition, the regional partnerships invited AspenWSI and FutureWorks researchers to learn along with them, provide a sounding board for identifying and exploring actions to address challenges, and document their efforts” (p.5).

“AspenWSI and FutureWorks researchers convened two learning meetings, at which representatives from the seven partnerships shared information about their work. Researchers also conducted site visits and telephone interviews to learn firsthand about work on the ground and to engage a wider range of informants and constituents” (p.8).

“This playbook compiles distinct strategies, or plays, based on the experiences of seven regional teams working to align and advance their economic development and workforce development efforts as part of the [CTWP]….[T]he work of these partnerships highlights the specific details and challenges that must be dealt with locally to create the conditions to move ahead.

The work of these partnerships does not address every issue or challenge that will arise in building successful workforce development and economic development partnerships, but rather offers experiences that can be built on as the work moves forward and continues to respond to a changing economic and social landscape” (p.48).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff

Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors organize nine strategies (plays) developed by the CTWP into four sections. The authors describe each strategy and present examples from CTWP partnerships and action steps for getting started. Section 1: Building Partnerships “Building partnerships is a valuable strategy for aligning and leveraging often limited local resources and for allowing organizations to play to their strengths….[But] finding ways to work together can often be complicated. Partners need to understand one another’s motivations and goals and to build trust with each other” (p.12). Strategies/plays: 1. “Engage the Most Motivated Stakeholders First to Start Fast” (p.13) 2. “Use What Is Working Now to Build Momentum and Show Your Community Potential Outcomes” (p.17) 3. “Plan for Sustainability From the Beginning” (p.20) Section 2: Collecting New Data “Information available in traditional [labor market information] data sets cannot provide all the information needed to understand what employers and workers need….[R]egional partnerships must dig deeper to explore aspects of sectors and workers not captured in traditional data sets” (p.23). Strategies/plays: 4. “Useful Labor Market Data Analysis Requires Local Employer Input” (p.24) 5. “Include Local Workers’ Perspectives in Data-Gathering Efforts to Inform Workforce Development Strategies” (p.27) Section 3: Business Engagement and Skills Development “Both customized and standardized approaches incur development costs….[The development costs of] a standardized approach…may be lower on a per-trainee basis….[but this] may mean that additional resources are used to teach workers skills or techniques an employer does not need” (p.30). Strategies/plays 6. “Use Workforce ‘Prototyping’ as a Key Strategy in Workforce Development to Speed Up Learning and then Scale Solutions” (p.31) 7. “Five Questions to Address Before Developing a New Credential” (p.35). Section 4: Additional Strategies for Improving the Talent Pipeline “Organizations with expertise in identifying individuals’ barriers to obtaining and retaining employment can be critical partners…. Businesses also have a critical perspective on how these issues play out at work…and how businesses can contribute to a shared solution” (p.40). Strategies/plays 8. “Human Service Strategies May Be Key to Unlocking Untapped Talent” (p.41) 9. Navigating Today’s Labor Market: Equipping Workers to Manage Their Work Lives in a Changing World of Work (p.44) (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)