Since the financial downturn that prompted the Great Recession, policymakers and advocates have taken great strides to support job creation and economic development. Although the national unemployment rate has decreased from 10 percent to 7.3 percent, further steps must be taken to improve employment within the United States. Today’s workforce is faced with several barriers in achieving this goal; the most prevalent being the growing gap in skills and education. While national and state programs aim to improve the competitiveness of the current workforce, such initiatives are not enough. Based on these issues, several states have taken steps to form industry partnerships which utilize sector-based strategies as a means to eliminate the existing skills mismatch.
Sector-based strategies are a workforce development initiative that partners businesses with community organizations and training providers in order to address the needs of employers and workers. By providing employers with the resources to effectively train under-skilled employees, businesses are able to expand work quality and efficiency while advancing the skills and opportunities of their workers. Ultimately, sector-based strategies promote job growth and enable a faster recovery from the great recession.
An example of a successful sector-based strategy initiative is the “Job Ready” program in Pennsylvania. In 2005, Pennsylvania’s “Job Ready” program was enacted by former Governor Ed Rendell to gain understanding of the basic industry needs and invest in workforce development in an efficient and effective manner. State funding was allocated to nine sector initiatives focusing on industry partnerships and incumbent worker training. In one year, “Job Ready” established approximately 70 industry partnerships, and trained more than 7,500 workers throughout 900 companies.
Today, state governments are using sector-based strategies as a key element of workforce and economic development policies. The need for programs such as these within the state of Connecticut is essential for job growth and opportunities. Read more about the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund’s involvement with the and sector-based strategies.
Nina Candels is a CWEALF social work intern from the University of Saint Joseph, who is specializing in policy and the Campaign for a Working Connecticut.