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 regional groups and sector partnerships. They organize the multiple partners and funding streams; provide or broker labor market services; and promote a vision that guide the partnership’s activities. Conveners must operate as “3rd party” entities. Their primary role is to help stakeholder groups within the partnership reach consensus on strategies and ensure the partnership’s objectives are ultimately met.
Workforce Development Boards (WDBs), sometimes referred to as Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), are a natural fit to lead regional planning and sector work. They already have most of the key regional workforce players around the table, stable funding, and through the thousands of American Job Centers, WDBs have the infrastructure to connect target sector businesses with pools of prepared workers. Most importantly, WDBs are most often, the one entity within a given region that is truly responsible for creating pools of qualified workers across key industries, positioning them well to carry on the strategic convener role.
Once industry partnerships have been formed (convened), the leadership role will switch to our industry partners, as great partnerships are “employer-led” – but that will be the subject of a future blog! For now, our call is to forward-looking Workforce Development Boards to begin the hard but important work of forming industry sector partnerships.
For more information on the role of conveners, and two exciting new resources developed by Maher & Maher and its partners for the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration please visit:
Maher & Maher, an IMPAQ Company, 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.