In many parts of the country, local Boards and their partners have integrated an industry sector focus as a key driver of their partnership development work, their strategic planning and policy efforts, and their structure for business service delivery. Integrating a sector focus as a key driver of service delivery for job seekers and workers, however, is less common. Applying sector strategies to career center service planning and delivery for these customers transforms the service experience and has been shown to improve outcomes for job seekers, workers, and business alike. Absent this focus, services for job seekers and workers may not be tied to career opportunities and career pathways in target industry sectors.
What would a sector-focused service delivery experience look and “feel” like to a job seeker or worker customer? When done right, career center organization, partnerships, customer flow, and service planning and delivery are all influenced by the intelligence obtained through target industry partners. For example, a sector-focused career center will have career coaches who are experts in the workforce needs of one or more target sectors. Staff assisting job seekers are not case managers but actually true career development coaches, capable of really advising customers about regional labor market opportunities, using labor market information and other intelligence, and linking training to growth occupations in target sectors. Industry sector specialists serving job seekers and workers may also serve employer customers in the same sectors, or, at a minimum, they actively collaborate with business services staff to share intelligence and connect supply and demand needs. Center outreach and education materials, such as industry and occupational profiles, convey opportunities about careers pathways in target sectors. Assessment is tied to the identified skill needs of employers in target sectors, and other career center services, such as workshops and networking groups, may be organized by industry sector. Broadly speaking, the focus is shifted from job placement in any sector to career development along clear pathways in vital industry sectors.
Clearly connecting career center staffing, organization, and service delivery for job seekers and workers to the needs of employers in target industry sectors raises the relevance and impact of local workforce development systems. When sector partnerships influence all levels of the workforce system – from strategic to operational – all customers will have more successful experiences and better results.
What are the fastest growing target industry sectors in your area? How are you setting up your career center to service these target industry sectors? What questions do you have? We would love to read your experiences in the comments below!
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