Sector partnerships are a proven strategy for helping workers prepare for middle-skill jobs and helping employers find skilled workers. This update of National Skills Coalition’s (NSC) fifty-state scan of sector partnership policies shows that state support for sector partnerships is rapidly growing. This scan finds that thirty-two states have policies in place to support local sector partnerships, an increase of eleven states from our previous scan conducted two years ago. Of the thirty-two states, twenty-two provide funding to support local sector partnerships, an increase of seven states from two years ago. The biggest difference in funding is the increased use of Governor’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Reserve Funds to support sector partnerships. Twelve states use these funds today, while just a single state used Workforce Investment Act Reserve Funds two years ago. Also, more states are providing technical assistance to local sector partnerships. Twenty-seven states now provide technical assistance; two years ago, fifteen states did so.
Increased state support for sector partnerships is largely attributable to WIOA. WIOA, which became effective two years ago, requires sector partnerships as a local workforce activity, and requires states to support those local efforts. While state support has increased substantially under WIOA, there is still considerable room for further progress. States without a policy in place can use NSC’s Sector Partnership Policy Toolkit to establish one. Many of the states with a policy already in place can also use the toolkit to further expand state support for local sector partnerships.
Across the nation, state policymakers are identifying education and job training as a critical component of their state’s economic development strategy. By preparing workers for middle-skill jobs, states can provide economic opportunity to workers and their families while at the same time providing businesses with the skilled workforce they need to succeed. In an environment of limited resources, it’s critical that state policymakers invest in workforce development strategies that work. (Author abstract)