Business Engagement in Action! | Maher & Maher
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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 state workforce system needs to model strong business engagement through the State Workforce Development Board. The vision and strategic direction of the Board as well as the way it conducts its business are important opportunities to demonstrate its business focus.  Education, economic development, human service and workforce development system partners need to build a customer-centric framework that aligns policies and programs at the state level that truly support the business customer in an integrated manner. 

Then at the regional level, the workforce development system must research and understand its industry sectors and validate labor market information, real-time data, demand occupations and required skills in order to effectively undertake demand planning.  When partnering in this work, Maher has found that identifying and engaging strong business champions is essential.  These champions will play a critical role in building and recruiting members for industry partnerships which will be used to effectively address an industry’s current and emerging skill gaps.  It is also at the regional level that workforce system partners can create and support a unified, regional business service strategy, which business communities around the country say they need and want.  The goal of this unified business service team approach is to truly listen to businesses’ needs region-wide and coordinate a collaborative response among partners that delivers the solutions identified by employers.

people engaging in conversationIt is at the local level where the rubber meets the road.  Local investment strategies, policies, and resource/service alignment takes place here and must be shaped by the needs identified by industry partnerships as well as input from businesses on Local Workforce Development Boards.  One-stop centers provide diverse and quality business services in a customer-focused way, from taking job orders to providing workforce intelligence to pre-screening candidates to hosting job fairs to investing in soft skill and technical skill attainment and so much more in the area of talent supply chain management. 

At Maher, we have had the good fortune to work with a number of states, regions and locals to assist in taking business engagement and service delivery strategies from concept to practice at all levels of the workforce system. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when implementing a business engagement strategy:

  • Do your homework first regarding the industry – begin with solid data;
  • Have a purpose for your business engagement – bring a vision for what you’d like to accomplish;
  • Speak the language of business;
  • Meet business where they are and build the relationship from there; and
  • Listen and respond in a timely manner – resolve to move at the speed of business.

Follow these simple guidelines and you will be off and running in no time! Also, check out the Business Engagement Virtual Institute we recently designed and hosted for the Employment and Training Administration (ETA). Additional resources and information are also available on the Sector Strategies page of WorkforceGPS.

If you are just starting out or want to take your strategy to the next level, let’s get a dialogue started! Feel free to email me at!

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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