October 12, 2020
In my last several blogs I focused on situational poverty resulting from COVID-19 and the impact that strategic alliances can have in combating this crisis. I firmly believe that the interconnectivity between government, business, philanthropy and the nonprofit community, anchored in strategies that advance the entire ecosystem, is the pathway to sustainable and measurable progress. The collective goal is an economy that is growing, business and community are thriving, and people from all backgrounds have the opportunity for economic mobility. No individual piece of the equation can do it alone, nor should they. And when we jointly own the results, we jointly reap the rewards.
What does this take in addition to a common vision? Achieving our goal requires investment in retraining and upskilling individuals who have lost their jobs, training for individuals entering the job market during this challenging time, including those with barriers to employment. And in devising these upskilling strategies, we must consider that the business sector is undergoing one of the largest structural shifts in the past four decades; traditional 9 to 5 employment is giving way to new organizational structures, heavily reliant on technology, and creating greater flexibility in work hours and location. Locality-centric businesses are seeing opportunities to take their products nationally or even globally. We must also take into account that government—a reliable funder of workforce development initiatives—wants results.
One strategy that we should actively advance during this time is sector-based training—a strategy that brings economic developers, labor organizations, community colleges, local governments and workforce trainers together—to ensure a pipeline of job-ready workers. Together they develop training curriculums that focus on the skillsets needed for particular jobs within specific high growth sectors. According to the National Skills Coalition, sector strategies are among the most successful workforce interventions that statistically demonstrate improved employment opportunities and wages for individuals, increased competitiveness of business, and improved economic health of communities.
Our research suggests that the skills gap is of special concern for industries with the highest projected rates of job growth, including health care, “green” industries and niche manufacturing.
This convergence of business needing specific skills, government and philanthropic funders wanting quantifiable results, communities wanting foundations for sustainable economic growth, and the nonprofit wanting to leverage its decades of experience in workforce development could result in the interconnectivity required for real sustainable impact.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.