Technical Assistance Strategies | Maher & Maher
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Category Technical Assistance (TA) Strategies

Building on National Apprenticeship Week: Next Steps

Since the first National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) in 2015, the buzz around apprenticeship has grown exponentially, with more than 1000 events including tours, conferences, podcasts, webinars, and more, all promoting the benefits of apprenticeship as a talent and workforce development tool. The sheer amount of information, perspectives and advice shared during NAW can be overwhelming, and organizations that are either just getting started in building their programs, or looking to expand and improve, may need help drilling down to the most important lessons from the week.

Although there are different approaches to building a successful apprenticeship program, the hallmarks of success are consistent across all of them. Successful programs offer the right technical components: in-depth, customized training that includes work-based learning, compensation, formal education, mentorship, and a market-valued credential upon completion. They also offer a way to engage and secure acceptance from stakeholders through active collaboration with both internal… Read more →

State Work-Based Learning Ecosystems are Closing the Skills Gap

Determined to speed up efforts to close the skills gap, states are turning to work-based learning ecosystems as a more inclusive and coordinated structure to bring all stakeholders to the table. In a work-based learning ecosystem, partnerships of business, education, workforce development, and community organizations collaborate to prioritize opportunities, develop solutions, and implement sustainable training programs. Ecosystems align programs and resources to provide the full continuum of work-based learning, from career planning to internships to apprenticeship and more, to meet the talent needs of businesses.

Maher has identified the following common elements shared by states that are successfully implementing an ecosystem approach to work-based learning:

Leadership and stakeholders from all partners of the ecosystem collaborate to identify common goals, priorities, and responsibilities for outcomes. Data and research combined with the expertise of each partner is used to identify opportunities and prioritize solutions. Assets of the ecosystem… Read more →

Smart Workforce System Integration Expands Access to Apprenticeship

Today, we’re sharing how states are working to integrate apprenticeship in the workforce system and pointing you to resources to help your own efforts. It is no secret that expanding access to work-based learning, and especially apprenticeship, takes extensive alignment and capacity-building work across programs and partners at the state and local levels. The workforce system has many different entry points – which is a great benefit to job seeker and business customers – but also means that staff representing various programs and levels need to have the know-how to connect individuals with existing or new apprenticeship opportunities and businesses to work-based learning ecosystems.

The role of the workforce system is much more than just informing job seekers and businesses of apprenticeship opportunities. It must integrate its processes with those of its partners in order to deliver programs, policies, and resources that connect, fund, and… Read more →

Adult Education and Pre-Apprenticeship – a Promising Partnership!

Quality pre-apprenticeship programs provide pathways to apprenticeship for under-represented, disadvantaged, or low-skilled individuals.  Successful programs incorporate industry-approved training and curriculum, integrate hands-on training, lead to industry-recognized credentials, and provide robust supportive services.  Pre-apprenticeship programs do not stand alone; quality programs partner directly with apprenticeship sponsors and include explicit pathways into apprenticeship programs (and other employment opportunities) for successful participants.

These characteristics of pre-apprenticeship programs make them a great option for the adults and youth who receive services through Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs.  Across the country, ABE providers are partnering with or operating pre-apprenticeship programs and providing a recruitment pipeline into pre-apprenticeships.  For example:

In Delaware, Sussex Technical School partnered with the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship and the local Adult High School to create a 1-year electrical pre-apprenticeship program for the ESL population.  ​They created an integrated instructional class that runs… Read more →

Partnerships that Strengthen State Apprenticeship Expansion Efforts

Successful workforce development efforts are all about partnerships.  To succeed, you need an ecosystem of collaboration and support that stretches across workforce development, education, and business.  In recognition of National Apprenticeship Week, we’re highlighting great examples of partnerships that states are using to expand apprenticeship opportunities for businesses and workers.  Have a great partnership you’re proud of?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Partnerships with local workforce areas.  Increasing the number of apprenticeships means expanding and accelerating business outreach and program development.  States like Idaho are using their local workforce partners as part of that effort.  Idaho redesigned its apprenticeship business outreach model to bring together workforce, education, and industry intermediary partners, and equip them to use a consultative sales model focused around business needs and customized solutions.  In each of the state&rsquo… Read more →

The Longpath: Building a Workforce System for the Future

There was an air of excitement when upwards of 1,000 people from across North Carolina came together last week for the annual NCWorks Partnership Conference to learn and discuss topics around “Back to the Future: The Next 30 Years.” Maher & Maher was there to present at the North Carolina Workforce Board Association pre-conference, as well as several sessions – Washington Update, WIOA Fundamentals and Service Strategies Backward Mapping – at the conference itself. I was also invited to participate in the “Futurist Five” general session.

During the Futurist Five session, we talked quite a bit about the power of partnerships and key ingredients for their success, including the involvement of community partners, leveraging sector partnerships, having staff with heart and passion, partnering for the longpath, and doing it with style and swagger. 

This idea of the longpath, as articulated by Ari… Read more →

Free Training for Case Managers

To be good at workforce development is to be good with people. Good with the employers and business people shaping the landscape of jobs, and good with the individuals that walk in our American Job Centers each day looking for work and better opportunities. Case managers are on the frontlines of this important work, and investing in their skills and professional development is a critical part of ensuring that American Job Centers (AJCs) bring value to their communities.

If you’re looking for new professional development resources for your case managers, look no further than Case Counselor Training: Four Indicators of Effective Service Delivery, a training we developed with Jobs for the Future and ETA’s Region 1 team. The training is organized around four key skill areas:

Writing Effective Case Notes – Case managers learn how to capture and record valuable notes… Read more →

Maher Successfully Executes Over 150 Individual Projects to Support Workforce System Excellence

For the past three years, Maher & Maher (Maher) has partnered with United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA) Office of Regional Management and six ETA Regional Offices to implement over 150 technical assistance projects in 34 states around the country. Financed through Federal Technical Assistance and Training funds, the projects built the capacity of states and regions to provide innovative, effective and customer-centered workforce service design and delivery.  Projects included:

Intensive consulting around sector strategies and high-impact State and Local Workforce Boards; Development of various training curricula around topics such as effective monitoring, case management and soft skills for job seekers; Delivery of workshops on various topics, including service integration, strategic board training, sectors 101, career pathways, creating a customer centered one-stop, youth program design, and partnerships; and A Customer Centered Design Challenge that brought together local teams to tackle system challenges through… Read more →

Cohort Technical Assistance: Innovation in Peer-to-Peer Learning

Technical assistance is an invaluable tool to help workforce and education organizations learn how to improve systems. But it can sometimes be a passive process. Attend a webinar, a few meetings, read a couple of best practice case studies, and then call it a day. Frequently, the topic is determined by the sponsoring organization providing technical assistance, and for clarity’s sake, it often focuses on just one issue. We’re often looking for the “right” solution for a single problem. But the real work done in the field is more intricate, more interrelated, and may not fit into a one-size-fits-all approach.

Maher is refining a new model that makes the process more engaging and interactive. Cohort technical assistance brings together peers for collaborative learning and problem solving. Cohorts are designed to drill-down on a topic, combining “team time’” (within… Read more →

Forming, Storming and Norming Around Regions, Sector Strategies and Career Pathways

It is wonderful when regionalism comes together like it did with the six workforce development regions in Minnesota! In order to help stand up these newly formed regions, Minnesota asked Maher to partner with the regions to assess sector strategies implementation status in the context of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The Maher team reviewed each regional plan and then identified and provided technical assistance over a three-month period.

Across the regions, several common technical assistance themes emerged:

Advancing a regional approach to sector strategies that is strategic and systemic in nature; Building a common understanding and structure to support sector strategies and employer-led industry partnerships among local boards and partners; Creating an integrated approach to business services; Supporting and sustaining long-term sector partnership and employer relationships; and Developing performance metrics/benchmarks.

In response to these needs, Maher coaches worked with regions on a… Read more →

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