Sector-driven Workforce Development…Is it Working?

KRA Corporation looks at sector-based employment and training as a much-needed  approach for some local workforce and economic development systems…

Ten years ago, then President George W. Bush laid out what his administration considered a “groundbreaking approach for closing employment skills gaps.”  In his address, he stated “The High Growth Job Training Initiative…is aiming to give workers the skills they need to realize their dreams. It’s a collaborative effort to help team up people with the jobs that are needed, to make sure that the changes in our economy don’t leave people behind.”

Subsequently, the Department of Labor (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA) website reported, “This initiative represents the first step in a series of actions…to engage business, education and the workforce investment system to work together to develop solutions to the workforce challenges facing high growth industries.

Fields like health care, information technology, and advanced manufacturing have jobs and solid career paths left open due to a lack of people qualified to fill them.  The High Growth Job Training Initiative  targets education and skills development resources toward helping workers gain the skills they need to build successful careers in these and other growing industries.”

The report continued, “To put this approach into action, ETA identified 14 sectors that fit within the following criteria: (1) they are projected to add substantial numbers of new jobs to the economy or affect the growth of other industries; or (2) they are existing or emerging businesses being transformed by technology and innovation requiring new skills sets for workers.”  The 14 sectors identified are: Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace, Automotive, Biotechnology, Construction, Energy, Financial Services, Geospatial Technology, Health Care, Homeland Security, Hospitality, Information Technology, Retail, and Transportation.

The report concluded, “The High Growth Job Training Initiative [HGJTI] continues to invest in national models and demonstrations of workforce solutions in these sectors designed to achieve the following outcomes: Targeted investment of workforce development resources and support for private and public sector partnerships to ensure the development of workers’ skills in occupations where industry has identified needs [and] Increased integration of community and technical college efforts with business and the public workforce system activities to meet the skills training needs of high growth industries.”

By expanding local workforce systems’—i.e., Workforce Investment Boards through which many KRA programs are funded—capacity (1) to contribute  to the economic development of the community, (2) to be market-driven, and (3) to be responsive to local workforce needs, DOL/ETA promotes economic competitiveness, enhanced productivity, and true workforce quality through HGJTI programming.

Through the operation of its One-Stop Career Center Programs, KRA Corporation continually encourages employers operating in high-growth sectors to use Apprenticeships, Occupational Skills Training, and On-the-Job Training Programs as viable skills-development resources to ensure themselves a pipeline of skilled workers, which in turn, provides workers with career enhancing opportunities in high-growth sector occupations.

In future Workforce&Government articles, KRA Corporation will take a look at both grant- and contract-funded DOL/ETA programs designed to provide training opportunities in those industries identified as high-growth employment business sectors, as well as a healthcare-sector opportunity grant program funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.  We will also explore some State’s initiatives—Full Employment Programs—and the role they play in assisting employers to train workers that are needed to fill employment gaps in targeted sectors.

KRA Corporation will continue to leverage its 30+ years’ experience in program development, management, and operation to assist our employer-customers in high-growth sectors, while still ensuring that all jobseeker-customers are equitably served according to their individual needs.  In this way, we continue to prepare job seekers for tomorrow’s global economy and to supply employers with a trained and reliable workforce.