The recent TechHire Virtual Institute session, Industry Partnerships for Long-term Sustainability, explored how grantees can leverage industry sector partnerships to inform, shape, and complement training programs to build effective talent pipelines and ensure that program goals are met in the long run. The interactive session outlined a few key concepts:
Industry partnership design:
- Connects industry employers with each other and with workforce system partners
- Provides a platform for employers to identify and prioritize shared talent needs of the industry and guide workforce system partners in the solution design
- Requires workforce system partners to collaborate on solutions for industry and job seekers
- Allows workforce system partners to leverage employer resources for the workforce system
High performing industry partnership characteristics
- Puts businesses at the middle
- Includes system partners
- Scope is regional and conversations strategic
- Managed by a qualified convener
Elements of “world-class” industry sector strategies:
- Are driven by great data
- Are founded on a regional vision
- Are guided by industry
- Lead to strategic alignment
- Transform how services (job seeker and employer) are delivered
- Are measured, improved, and sustained
When structured effectively, industry partnerships can be a powerful catalyst to implement the Golden Circle concept. They provide a platform to strategically connect talent supply (job seekers) and talent demand (employers), reducing duplication of efforts within the workforce system, fostering more efficient spending by prioritizing funds to areas of critical need, and accelerating economic growth.
When our why is clear, when we are consistent in how we pursue it, and when what we do is widely known to our target audience (job seekers and employers), we create a system that is sustainable in the long-run.
During the session, two TechHire grantees, Employ Milwaukee and Montgomery College, described how they leveraged robust industry partnership, providing examples of high performing industry partnership characteristics.
Cindy Anderson, TechHire program manager at Employ Milwaukee, discussed how their program utilizes an industry advisory board to set a strategic direction and sector-based strategy. She noted that they review labor market on a regional scale: “We can review labor market projections and we can validate what's happening in our region… because the members of the boards are pretty broad.”
Their board also plays a key role in ensuring continuous improvement. Ms. Anderson described, “…we conceptualized a system whereby we have a demand side of our customers, which is employers and folks needing to fill jobs and erasing skill gaps, and then we also have a supply side of our customer base. [Since] the advisory boards somewhat sit in the middle, they help make sure that, if we're working with participants in certain categories or industries, that we're all on the same page with where – what we can do to facilitate erasing skills gaps and helping them fill their talent needs.”
In the case of Montgomery College, Tori Strickland highlighted how her program’s relationship with the Maryland Tech Council (MTC) was both regional, strategic, and sustainable. MTC is an established regional trade association of over 600 members and helped provide Montgomery College with access to employer partnerships with a regional vision that can live beyond the life of its TechHire grant.
Tori developed this partnership by asking the “Why” of her program. “We had to understand and accept what it is that we lack so we could better appreciate…what the Maryland Tech Council could bring to the table.”
Once Montgomery College took stock of their “Why” and identified the gaps in their services and partnerships, they relied on MTC to fill those gaps. MTC “has the ability to connect us to employers. We let them do that. Oftentimes, social services organizations, community colleges, we get in our own way. We want to drive everything. We want to talk. We want to talk and talk. We've got to take a step back and let the employers speak.”
To get your thought process started on what this means to your grant program, consider both these two TechHire examples and begin to develop your Why, How, and What. Good luck on your journey to long-term sustainability!
Sinek, Simon. “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.