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Business Engagement in Action!

Over the last two years the workforce development system has been working on organizational changes related to WIOA.  Now that the final rules are out, many states, regions and local areas are focusing on the key strategic priorities in the law.  Some of WIOA’s specific requirements include:

Supporting industry partnerships by Local Workforce Development Boards; Creating stronger roles for, and integration with, economic development; Aligning sector partnerships and educational career pathways; and Measuring outcomes related to employer impact, in addition to jobseeker and worker impact.

Whether you are launching an industry partnership, a career pathway effort, work-based learning initiative, or overhauling your business service strategy, your business customer must be the driving force behind the effort.  In order to achieve WIOA’s strategic objectives, each level of the workforce system must effectively and efficiently do its part. 

The… Read more →

Maher at the White House for 2nd Learning Exchange & Celebration

On September 19th, Maher & Maher joined leaders from the White House, the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and fifteen Customer Centered Design (CCD) Challenge teams from across the country at a special White House event to celebrate innovative local partnerships that embrace design thinking and put customer needs at the center of service delivery, processes and customer flow. The teams from California, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin highlighted key insights they learned through their immersive research, and the programmatic transformations they’ve made for business customers and target populations including, out-of-school youth, formerly incarcerated jobseekers, English-Language Learners (ELL), and individuals with disabilities. White House and ETA leaders engaged in a robust dialogue with the teams and praised the teams for their commitment to the innovative approach to improve service delivery.

On the heels of 80+ participating teams in Round 1, Maher provided… Read more →

Who Convenes Industry Sector Partnerships?

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) lays the groundwork for smart regional planning: aligning education and training strategies and services with the talent needs of businesses within a given labor market. As many workforce leaders can attest, this kind of regional planning, and the forming of industry sector partnerships is difficult to pull off. It requires developing a shared vision and consensus among not only workforce areas, economic development organizations and post-secondary institutions, but now, a number of other public programs including vocational rehabilitation, adult education and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. These regional groups must ultimately align services and programs and work with business customers as one voice.

There is no question that all effective regional partnerships have, at their heart, a strong convening organization, or intermediary. Intermediaries, or “conveners” as they are often called, are the backbone organization for… Read more →

The Case for Regionalism

The successful implementation of sector strategies and other key transformational elements in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) occurs at the regional level. But, without a universally accepted definition of a functional economic region, some states have chosen to designate their local workforce areas as “regions;” a move that can overlook the tremendous value of true economic regions in their state. As states seek to designate economic regions, we encourage them to consider two key factors that are generally included in most definitions that can help their guide decisions: 1) The region represents a cohesive network of trade in goods, services and labor, and 2) Data is the common element in identifying such regions.

Maher’s extensive experience working with states and regions strongly indicates that regional approaches built around identifying and operating in economic regions lend themselves to more successful sector strategies. There are… Read more →

State Leadership and Support: Living the Dream

Harriet Tubman once said, “Every great dream begins with the dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” 

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act provides state leaders and the workforce system at each level the opportunity to dream big dreams and work with their partners to make their dreams a reality. As a result, the role that state leadership plays and the supports it offers during this transitional timeframe is critical.

The infrastructure to support that dream is the WIOA Unified or Combined State Plans.  However, in our work with several states, it has become clear that those plans are more compliance focused and not necessarily reflective of states’ true strategic vision and how to operationalize that vision.  Now is the time to… Read more →

Maher Wins Sector Strategy Engagement in Arkansas!

We are pleased to announce that we have been selected by the state of Arkansas to support their deployment of sector strategies statewide – adding another state to a growing list of clients working to transform their workforce development system.

Sector strategies are regional, industry-focused approaches to building skilled workforces and are among the most effective ways to aligning public and private resources to address the talent needs of business – while providing family-sustaining career paths for job-seekers. Sectors-based workforce development strategies are promoted actively by federal policy and are a key element in the Nation’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was passed by Congress in 2014.

“Sectors for us is not just another program,” said Beth Brinly, Vice-President, Workforce Innovation at Maher. “Rather, it's a culture-shift in the way we view the business of workforce development. By… Read more →

New ION Talks Focus on Leading Workforce System Change!

John P. Kotter was so right when he said “Tradition is a very powerful force.” We have a lot invested in our traditions and this is especially true for the workforce system. Changing the way things have always been done is hard. Yet, with the transformative nature of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), change at every level is well underway – for state agencies, workforce board, regional partnerships, one-stop centers, and others. 

To help expand capacity for the changes called for under WIOA, the Employment and Training Administration looked to Maher & Maher for a series of ION Talks (Innovation and Opportunity Network) and accompanying discussion guides. The 3-part video series is designed to develop and equip leaders of change with a greater understanding of how they deal with change, and how to initiate and manage change.

These short and… Read more →

WIOA Regional Plans: The End of the Beginning

In our work with regional teams in a number of states over the last decade, we have learned a great deal about what enables regional partners’ success, what can hinder it, and how regional partners can create meaningful, sustained engagement and ensure real results.  We’ll be sharing our thoughts and observations with you in blog posts over the upcoming months, and invite you to weigh in with input on your own experiences with successes and pitfalls in regional planning!

Over the last year, partners in regions across the country have been working to draft and finalize their WIOA regional plans.  In some cases, regional partners have a history of working together and planning jointly across workforce area (and other) boundaries; in others, working together in multi-partner and multi-jurisdictional teams has been a very new enterprise.  In either case, regions have had… Read more →

Peer Learning Groups Drive Sector Strategies Success

Maher & Maher, together with our partners at Jobs for the Future (JFF), the National Governor’s Association Center for Workforce Excellence and the National Network for Sector Partners, continues to be the prime contract support for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

Now in our third year of partnership with ETA, we continue to drive innovative approaches to technical assistance – providing effective and efficient opportunities for workforce practitioners to access capacity building tools to help accelerate the System’s adoption of sector-based approaches to workforce development.

One such innovation is the Sector Strategies Peer-Learning Groups (PLGs). Each PLG offers a topic-specific space for workforce leaders interested in developing industry sector partnerships.  PLGs involve individuals working together in groups to overcome specific challenges and adapt national promising practices. Led by a trained facilitator and… Read more →

ETA Awards Maher 5-Year, $20M BPA: Opening the Door to Continued & New Consulting & TA Opportunities

Maher & Maher is pleased to announce a new 5-year, $20M blanket purchase agreement (BPA) award from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to provide the agency with consulting and management services in support of its new online communication and learning platform – WorkforceGPS.org. The BPA also opens tremendous opportunity for any office within ETA to engage Maher’s services in a broad array of technical assistance initiatives, including everything from developing and delivering online blended learning and e-learning training opportunities, to identifying and promoting innovative best practices, and creating online content-like blog posts, discussion threads, newsletters, and the like.

The BPA is advantageous for federal staff because it allows access to Maher services directly – without the need for competitive proposals. This will save ETA staff time and money by expediting the procurement process and tapping needed technical assistance… Read more →

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