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From Strategy to Service Delivery: Operationalizing Industry Sector and Career Pathway Priorities

For the last 10 years, the Maher & Maher team has had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of state and regional clients to support planning and other activities focused on aligning partners around shared strategies to better understand and meet the workforce needs of key industry sectors in their areas.  The passage of WIOA in 2014 has brought increased intensity to this work, given the priority WIOA places upon the development of industry sector-driven partnerships and strategies and the importance of aligning supply-side efforts to demand-side needs through the integration of well-articulated career pathways.  It’s a significant achievement that workforce systems across the country have or are completing their initial strategic plans under WIOA.  For us, the key question now becomes: How can workforce systems operationalize their industry sector and career pathways strategies in service delivery for job seeker, worker, and business customers on the ground?

In recent years, we’ve had the opportunity to support a number of states and regional and local areas that are tackling this very question of getting from planning to execution.  We thought we’d share some highlights of the service delivery innovations these clients are pursuing to ensure that their strategic priorities for building industry sector partnerships and career pathways in key sectors are reflected in how they work with customers. 

Adult and youth job seeker and worker customer service delivery:

  • workforceEnsure that staff serving job seekers and workers are fully-versed in the workforce needs of each of the area’s target sectors, and formalize the sharing of industry- and employer-related data and intelligence among business services and job seeker/worker-serving staff.
  • Move from a primary focus on job placement to one that emphasizes longer-term career development and advancement; this often requires a shift from a case management model to a career coaching model.  Clearly articulate career pathways and related skill, educational, and credential requirements with customers.
  • Align customer assessment and screening to the identified skill, experience, and credential needs of employers in target industry sectors.
  • Ensure that training program and curriculum options and ITA investments are aligned with the skill and credential requirements of target industries and priority occupations in those industries.
  • Organize Career Center services, such as peer networking groups, job clubs, and workshops, around target industry sectors.

Business customer service delivery:

  • Build staff capacity to use and analyze both traditional and real-time LMI and package it in ways that provide increased value to business customers.
  • Move beyond a primary focus on labor exchange to building relationships with groups of employers in targeted industry sectors and engaging employers in sustained conversations regarding their workforce needs.
  • Regionalize business services operations and staffing to maximize the coordination of resources and expertise across workforce areas in a region and improve the seamlessness of service delivery to employers in target industry sectors.
  • Organize business service teams according to target industry sectors.  Ensure that area manufacturers, for example, have a knowledgeable single point of contact they can call on for assistance with a full range of business support, from immediate hiring needs to layoff aversion assistance.
  • Expand investments in employer-driven training models such as OJT, Registered Apprenticeship, and customized training.  Align training investments to the skill and credential needs of target sectors and area employers in those sectors.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your system build capacity to implement any of these approaches, we’d love to hear from you!

Maher & Maher is a specialized change management and talent development consulting firm based in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. The firm is U.S. Department of Labor’s national technical assistance provider supporting the Employment and Training Administration’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and a number of other priority initiatives of the administration that advance and promote the public workforce system. Maher is also currently involved in a number of sector strategy, regional planning, organizational strategic planning and training initiatives in multiple state and regional areas. For more information about our services, visit our website or call us at 1-888-90-Maher.

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