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NNSP develops and shares knowledge within the sector field. Listed below are recent publications - from NNSP and other sources - of interest to sector initiatives and their supporters. To see the description of any publication, click on the expand button ( ) beside its title.
For webinar recordings, slideshows, and supporting materials (including publications), visit NNSP’s archive of past webinars.
For materials from NNSP's 2014 NNSP Virtual Conference, visit the conference resources page.
- Strategic Venture Fund: Partners for a Competitive Workforce Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program Best Practices (2015)
In partnership with the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board and Ohio Means Jobs Center of Butler County, Partners for a Competitive Workforce has launched a new Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program, designed by employers to meet their immediate needs for welders and machinists. Participants receive industry-recognized certificates and earn wages for on-the-job training. They also have the opportunity for promotion as competencies are attained. Support from NNSP enabled PCW to evaluate the progress of this program and to compile lessons-learned in a format that can be easily shared with other organizations.
- Strategic Venture Fund: Towards Employment's Innovations in Sector-Based Career Pathways (2015)
Towards Employment's project documented three innovations in programming developed by WorkAdvance, a regional sector specific career pathway program led by Towards Employment. NNSP funding supported the write up of three cases studies to highlight the role that a community based work readiness organization played in (1) an industry association partnership that led to accelerated outcomes; (2) a training cohort customization that increased access to training for low-skill individuals; and (3) a partnership with a local business to create a strategy for low-wage incumbent worker upskilling and backfill with candidates from distressed neighborhoods.
- Strategic Venture Fund: WRTP/BIG-STEP's Best Practices and Policy Recommendations for Implementation of Registered Apprenticeships in WIOA (2015)
With support from NNSP, WRTP documented its best practices in the intermediary model, which has led to high paying jobs for those who have typically have barriers to those jobs. In addition, based on knowledge derived from key stakeholders, WRTP developed recommendations regarding how WIOA rules can be designed to further access to Registered Apprenticeships for underserved groups.
NNSP / Insight Center Publications
- THRIVE! Helping Older San Diegans Get Good Jobs through an Industry Sector Approach (2012)
Rigorous research has demonstrated that regional, industry-focused workforce partnerships, or “sector initiatives,” can be highly effective at improving the employment and earnings of low-income people. Sector initiatives work because they inquire deeply into the needs of both specific target populations and specific industries, involve employers as partners, and design programs that provide participants the industry and job-specific skills valued by employers. Until now, however, the sector approach has not been widely applied to helping older adults.
In 2011, the Insight Center and the National Council on Aging developed the concept of a “mature worker sector initiative” with the goal of doing just that. To pilot the concept, the Insight Center recently conducted extensive research on the needs of both local employers and older adults in the San Diego region. The research has led to a new report with recommendations for designing programs to help older workers enter occupations in the healthcare sector and to help healthcare employers meet their critical workforce needs.
- Do Businesses Think Federal Funding Should Support Workforce Training? (2011)
Do businesses think federal funding should support sector initiatives? Absolutely. In collaboration with the National Association of Workforce Boards, NNSP developed this clear, concise statement that gathers employer testimonials and outcomes data. In it, NNSP members, their employer partners, and others make their opinion clear: businesses value employment and training services that provide them qualified new hires, enhance the skills of their existing employees, and/or contribute to their competitiveness in the global marketplace.
NNSP also gathered employer testimonials and data specifically about the benefits to employers of participating in sector initiatives, available here.
- Sector Snapshot: A Profile of Sector Initiatives, 2010
This is the latest report in a ten-year series profiling the sector field nationwide. It summarizes results from 196 different organizations, and includes sections on: industries targeted by sector initiatives, services offered (and to whom), characteristics of sector partnerships and the organizations involved in them, effects of the economic crisis, funding outlook, evaluation methods, and relationships to policy and systems change.
The findings include that sector initiatives have become more important as a means of providing workforce development, adult literacy, post-secondary education, and economic development services. They have expanded into new industry sectors, grown in number throughout the country, involved employers in a more integrated way, broadened the types of organizations involved, and more specifically targeted the needs of low income and other disadvantaged individuals. An executive summary is also available
- From Hidden Costs to High Returns: Unlocking the Potential of the Lower-Wage Workforce (2010)
Employers can improve their fortunes by investing in training and development for their lower-wage employees according. This business brief, released by the National Network for Sector Partners (NNSP), is based on structured interviews with employers around the nation who have achieved significant bottom line benefits by undertaking innovative training and career development efforts targeted at their lower-skilled, lower-wage workers, and providing significant wage increases for those that develop skills the employers value. Many of the employers participate in sector initiatives.
- Business Benefits of Employee Development Literature Review (2010)
This literature review explores the idea that businesses with effective employee development practices for entry-level workers will realize a business benefit. For example, a higher retention rate may be due, in part, to better working conditions, job quality, pay, and potential advancement opportunities for employees. In addition to a higher retention rate, business benefits may include higher productivity and increased customer satisfaction, among other things. Employee development as defined in the reviewed literature includes, but is not limited to, training of employees; advancement of entry-level or low-skilled (and usually low-wage) workers; creation of job ladders for these workers when none or few have existed; and mentorship or other support of such workers.
- Napa Hotel Sector Project (2009)
"What would a coherent strategy look like for meeting employer needs by preparing and advancing entry-level hotel workers from communities in need?" Napa Hotel Sector Project , commissioned by the United Way of the Bay Area, attempts to answer this question by presenting results of a sector-focused community research process, including:
- review of available labor market information
- highlights of follow-up interviews with area employers to validate and enrich the data
- summary of focus groups with community residents and incumbent workers
- scan of resources available locally for training and employment services
- profiles of national models led by four distinct organization types
- recommendations for workforce services to benefit all stakeholders
- Sacramento Regional Construction and Transportation Initiative (2009)
In the early 1990s, few women or minorities participated in construction apprenticeship programs in the Sacramento area. At the same time, the construction sector was booming but suffered a shortage of skilled workers. Several local workforce leaders approached the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA) about partnering to address the problem. SETA has worked to promote inclusion of women and minorities in the construction sector workforce ever since.
The Sacramento Regional Construction and Transportation Initiative, a construction sector initiative led by SETA, has been successful at increasing the participation of women in the area's construction workforce through a combination of deep industry engagement, partnership development, and development of multiple programs tailored to meet the needs of women entering non-traditional occupations. This one-page profile, produced by NNSP for the California EDGE Campaign, provides a brief overview of the initiative and its major activities.
- Health Care Workforce Development Program (2009)
In 1995, a financial crisis at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services resulted in the layoff of 2,500 healthcare workers. It also exposed the vulnerability of these workers, many of them women and people of color with limited education, skills, and financial resources, to fluctuations in funding and ongoing restructuring of the healthcare workforce.
In response, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721 and the County developed a model labor-management educational partnership, the Health Care Workforce Development Program (HCWDP), and established the Worker Education & Resource Center (WERC) to implement it. This one-page profile, produced by NNSP for the California EDGE Campaign, provides a brief overview of the program and its outcomes.
- A Growing Green Economy - Opportunities of Tomorrow (2009)
Seattle Jobs Initiative (SJI) presents a report on the growing green economy and its impact on jobs and career pathways. The report, supported by an NNSP Strategic Venture Fund grant and continuing work initiated by the City of Seattle, examines local industries that are turning green and what this change means for local employers, workers, and available skills training. Topics include: policy, advocacy, investment and economic development, industry sectors, jobs, labor market challenges, workforce preparation, and recommendations for green sector approaches, with special attention on the energy efficiency sector in the Puget Sound region.
- An Evaluation Framework for State Sector Strategies (2008)
A collaboration among the National Governors Association, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, and NNSP, the Accelerating Adoption of State Sector Strategies project helps states develop strategies that support sector initiatives. In the project’s first two years, the partners teamed with eleven participating states to develop a framework for evaluating statewide sector strategies; this paper describes the result, which the authors describe as a starting place for conversation within and between states.
- Supporting Sector Strategies in the South (2008)
This white paper, co-authored by the National Network of Sector Partners (NNSP) and Southern Growth Policies Board (SGPB) highlights the success of five Southern states with workforce development efforts that are leading to the establishment and success of high-growth, high-wage industries. The authors believe this success can be replicated throughout the South by:
- Providing technical assistance for state policy makers and administrators
- Developing the interest of philanthropic and other investors to assist
- Engaging political leadership to make sector strategies a priority.
Supporting Sector Strategies in the South aims to assist all Southern states in developing sector strategies. It describes both policy and local program models that provide guidance for states throughout the South in the redesign and re-deployment of workforce development, education, economic development, and social service assets. This roadmap includes recommendations for the adoption of “sector-friendly” policies and describes ways in which philanthropy and interested advocacy groups can provide support.
- Colorado Construction Sector Workforce Needs Study (2008)
The construction sector in Colorado faces serious skills shortages, a trend which will be exacerbated by a major long-term transit construction project in the metro Denver area. This NNSP report discusses the role of sector initiatives in addressing these issues.
The report begins by analyzing labor market information and presents the projected high demand occupations in the sector. It then provides an assessment of which of these occupations are both part of a career pathway and pay a self sufficiency wage. It also identifies issues constraining Colorado's capacity to meet the demand in these occupations, including occupations specific to the transit construction industry. The report also includes examples of construction sector initiatives that have successfully addressed recruitment and skill development issues, and outlines general design principles for sector initiatives. The report concludes by suggesting improvements to the construction industry's overall approach to recruiting workers, aimed at bridging the long term skills shortfall.
- Sector Snapshots: A Profile of Sector Initiatives (2007)
Sector Snapshots offers a crucial insight into the field of sector practitioners. It is the leading national resource for industrial, organizational, and client profiles of the field. It also offers answers to key questions, including where projects obtain their funding and which services are most sought after by business clients. The 2007 Snapshots includes a section on how sector initiatives are trying to improve their local labor market and business environment.
- Sector Initiatives for Colorado's Long-Term Care Industry (2007)
As part of its effort to develop long-term care sector initiatives in Colorado, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment asked NNSP to produce Sector Initiatives for Colorado's Long-Term Care Industry. The report compares compensation for long-term care occupations with family economic self-sufficiency standards, provides easy to use guidance on developing sector initiatives and operating them, and explores lessons and challenges that many long-term care initiatives have identified.
- System Change in the Flint Healthcare Employment Opportunities Sector Initiative (2007)
Flint Healthcare Employment Opportunities (FHEO) is a healthcare sector initiative focused on improving the economic status of unemployed residents of Flint, Michigan, primarily in Flint's Renewal Community, while simultaneously addressing the workforce needs of major healthcare employers in the area. The Insight Center worked closely with local partners to establish FHEO and support its successful operation. Beginning in 2000, the Insight Center provided development assistance to the local stakeholders, including research and analysis, strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and program design. After FHEO began operations in 2002, Insight Center provided ongoing assistance with resource development, system design, peer learning facilitation, and long-term visioning for the initiative. Related publications include:
- Health Industry Jobs Help Build Healthy Economy (2007)
- Sector Initiative Profile: Flint Healthcare Employment Opportunities (2006)
- Policy Report: Increasing Use of Dislocated Worker Funds (2007)
Dislocated Worker funding could provide a significant resource for grantees of the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative (BAWFC, or Workforce Collaborative) and other sector initiatives. In 2004, the Workforce Collaborative and the State of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) made $1 million of State Dislocated Worker funds available to Workforce Collaborative grantees. However, grantees were unable to use hundreds of thousands of Dislocated Worker funds. Rather than benefiting Bay Area employers and workers, the unused funds went back to the State.
To better understand the problem and potential solutions, BAWFC contracted with the Insight Center (formerly National Economic Development and Law Center) to investigate Dislocated Worker funding. Our report begins with a brief description of federal funding for dislocated worker services. We then review the ways in which California uses the Dislocated Worker funding it controls. Next, we focus on the challenges and opportunities, including new opportunities related to the use of Dislocated Worker “formula” funding provided directly to local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs).
Filling America's Jobs (2007)
In partnership with NNSP, the National Association of Manufacturers Center for Workforce Success released two how-to guides in its Filling America's Jobs publication series. They are step-by-step guides for implementing sector workforce development strategies for jobs and economic growth with an “employer-driven” focus. These guides provide practical advice and “how-to” steps that should be useful to employers, business associations, community-based organizations, training providers, and others interested in strengthening their regional economies and finding the right people to speak out and help them achieve success.
- Filling America’s Jobs: How Business Can Implement Sector Workforce Development Strategies and Economic Growth (2007)
- Filling America's Jobs: Working with CEOs to Communicate the Importance of a Skilled Workforce (2007)
- State Sector Strategies: Regional Solutions to Worker and Employer Needs (2006)
Governors in a significant number of states have made sector strategies a central element of their state workforce and economic development policies. Sector strategies support sector initiatives: regional partnerships of employers, training providers, community organizations, and other key stakeholders around specific industries to address the workforce needs of employers and the training, employment, and career advancement needs of workers.
For state sector strategies to succeed, states need to align policies and funding streams around new priorities across the education, workforce, and economic development systems, multiple agencies, and various levels of government. Governors are in a pivotal position to provide the leadership needed to address these challenges. This issue brief explains sector initiatives and their advantages and offers examples of state strategies to support them. It also suggests steps governors can take to launch their own.
- Oregon Vineyard Workers Survey (2006)
In Fall of 2005, the Insight Center conducted a survey of 200 vineyard and nursery workers in Oregon's Willamette Valley for the Farmworker Institute for Education and Leadership Development (FIELD). The purpose was to develop a model for increasing the wages and job quality of agricultural workers, while also increasing the quality and retention of the workforce in vineyards and nurseries. This was accomplished by identifying the skills, competencies, and training that would provide these workers with opportunities for career advancement. The project concluded with recommendations for combining various seasonal jobs to create year-round employment opportunities as well as developing a reward system to recognize more difficult tasks within the industry.
- Staffing Agencies and the Hard-to-Employ Population (2005)
The Insight Center's research on temporary staffing agencies has focused on a number of promising strategies used to move people with limited work experience and significant employment barriers into the workforce. These alternative staffing agencies across the country combine creative job placement strategies with training and social services, creating a system that can address the particular needs of the hard-to-employ. However, despite the fact that the temporary staffing industry is becoming more rooted in our economy, the impact of alternative staffing agencies on the overall staffing industry is limited, suggesting the need for public policy to encourage high-road strategies industry-wide that would create employment stability for workers with significant employment barriers.
Chinatown Families For Family Economic Success Coalition Sector Research (2005)
The Insight Center provided research and consultation to a coalition of job training and family support organizations in San Francisco’s Chinatown. We helped the group identify structural barriers that prevent Chinese parents from accessing self-sufficiency wages and career advancement. We also analyzed existing gaps in family support and employment-related services needed to overcome those barriers so that the collaboration could design new, more effective programs.
- Building Bridges to Help Chinese Families Reach Economic Self-Sufficiency
- Appendix 1, Includes San Francisco labor market analysis; demographic analysis of SF's Chinese population; industry-specific workforce-related services in Chinatown; CFFESS workplan; and research instruments
- Appendix 2, Raw Data, Organizational Surveys, Services Provided by CFFESS Coalition members
- The Road to Sector Success: A Guide for Workforce Boards (2004)
An increasing number of workforce boards are using sectoral strategies to strengthen their outreach to the business community in their area and to build stronger links with regional economic development efforts. This publication of NNSP and the National Association of Workforce Boards provides guidance and lessons learned from successful workforce boards to help other boards who are considering adopting a sector approach.
- From Processing Food to Fabricating Metals, (2004)
This analysis of the financing, programs, structure, outcomes, challenges, and industry relationships of manufacturing sector initiatives can be a valuable resource for developing sector solutions in this industry.
- Working Poor No More: How Three Bay Area Projects are Making Self Sufficiency a Reality (2004)
This publication describes lessons learned from three nonprofit job training projects designed to help low-wage workers move towards economic self-sufficiency.
- Using the California Self-Sufficiency Standard in Practice: Ideas for Organizations and Public Agencies Working to Help Families (2004)
The Self-Sufficiency Standard calculates the minimum amount of income required to pay for basic needs in each county of California, and is being used as a tool to help families move from poverty to economic self-sufficiency. The report documents the use of the Standard in California as a counseling/educational tool, as a benchmarking/evaluation tool, as a policymaking tool, as a planning tool, as a persuasive tool and as a data/research tool.
- Employing Offenders in San Francisco: A Sector Research Methodology, (2003)
In partnership with the San Francisco District Attorney, Terence Hallinan, the Insight Center began a research project in 2003 focusing on ways to move previously incarcerated people into employment. The research aimed to guide the development of industry-specific workforce development programs in San Francisco that would provide good wages and career advancement opportunities for people convicted of felonies. While this work examines the experiences of ex-felons, it is also relevant to the issues facing other criminal offenders. An executive summary is also available.
- Putting the Pieces Together: Connecting Industries, Workers, and Communities to Strengthen Traditionally Low-Wage Sectors (2001)
This report describes the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation's Maximizing Opportunity in a Restructuring Economy (MORE) project. The MORE project is an intermediary agency that offers a two-week pre-employment training that focuses on job readiness, resume completion, filling out employment applications, and interview techniques.
- Regional Workforce Funding Collaboratives: Leading the Way for California’s Workers and Businesses
The Insight Center supports the visioning, planning, and implementation of regional workforce funding collaboratives. These collaboratives support sector initiatives by bringing public and private funders together to expand and coordinate funding and make strategic investments in sector initiatives. They add flexibility to restricted public-funding streams, develop funder commitment and expertise in sector workforce development, and target systems change that benefits workers and employers over the long run. We played a key role in developing the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative, the first such collaborative in California. Launched in 2004 through a partnership of 14 philanthropic foundations and the California Employment Development Department, the Collaborative has gained national attention. We staffed the Collaborative's initial activities and helped to expand its investments, establish governance and management structures, deepen its knowledge of low-income workers and employers in the healthcare and biotech industries, facilitate development of a policy strategy, and produce requests for proposals.
Related reports include:
- Overview of Regional Workforce Funding Collaboratives
- Launching and Managing a Workforce Funding Collaborative
- Innovative Collaborations between Workforce Boards and Employers Helped Meet Local Needs (2012)
In this report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reviewed factors that facilitated innovative collaborations among workforce boards, employers, and others; major challenges to collaboration; and actions the Department of Labor (Labor) has taken to support local collaborative efforts. GAO examined 14 local initiatives identified by experts, including NNSP, as among the most promising or innovative efforts in which local workforce boards collaborated effectively with employers and other partners to achieve positive results.
- Tuning In to Local Labor Markets: Findings from the Sectoral Employment Impact Study (2010)
This publication reports findings from the Sectoral Employment Impact Study, the first random-assignment study of the effectiveness of sector initiatives. The study, which rigorously assessed whether mature, nonprofit-led sector-focused programs could increase the earnings of disadvantaged workers and job seekers, showed that program participants earned about $4,500 — 18 percent — more than the control group over the course of the two-year study period and $4,000 — 29 percent — more in the second year alone. Study participants were also more likely to find employment, work more consistently, work in jobs that paid higher wages, and work in jobs that offered benefits. Furthermore, there were earnings gains for each subgroup analyzed, including African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, formerly incarcerated individuals and young adults. In addition to presenting findings, the report also examines the strategies employed by the three organizations that took part in the study, as well as the common elements that likely contributed to their success.
- Job Training That Works: Findings from the Sectoral Employment Impact Study (2009)
A random assignment study by Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) showed that well-implemented sector-focused training programs significantly improve the earnings of low-income, disadvantaged workers and job seekers. The study used a rigorous experimental design to analyze the impact of sector initiatives led by three organizations:
- a medical and basic office skills sector initiative led by JVS (Boston, MA)
- an information technology sector initiative led by Per Scholas (Bronx, NY)
- construction, manufacturing, and healthcare sector initiatives led by Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership / BIG STEP (Milwaukee, WI)
- Systems Change: A Survey of Program Activities (2008)
This publication from the Aspen Institute's Workforce Strategies Initiative explores ways sector initiatives engage in “systems change” activities to help address structural issues – in industry practices, education and training infrastructure and public policy – that hamper their success. It provides a framework for understanding the range of systems change goals and strategies typically undertaken, offers practical examples, and discusses common challenges programs face – in terms of developing capacity to pursue this work and finding ways to finance it. Content is based on responses from approximately 250 sector programs that engage in various systems change activities, augmented by staff site visits and phone interviews.
- Targeting Industries, Training Workers, and Improving Opportunities: The Final Report from the Sectoral Employment Initiative (2008)
Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) presents findings from the Sector Employment Initiative (SEI). The initiative, launched by P/PV with the support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in 1998, tracked the experiences of nine organizations, including six skills-training providers, working regionally within targeted industry sectors. The study also assessed impacts on participants and systemic changes affecting workers across the sector. The results make a strong case for sector initiatives. In the report’s words:
Findings from the SEI are highly encouraging. The six skills-training programs were able to recruit the low-income, less-educated and, in many cases, minority individuals who could—and did—benefit from employment in occupations previously unavailable to them. Positive changes for participants included higher hourly wages, increased income and better-quality jobs. Both the skills-training programs and the other programs that participated in the SEI made progress in altering government regulations and/or the policies or practices of employers, educational institutions and public agencies—systemic changes that hold promise to improve working conditions and make training, certification and employment in certain occupations more easily obtainable for low-wage workers.
- Sectoral Strategies for Low-Income Workers (2007)
This publication from the Aspen Institute's Workforce Strategies Initiative examines the sectoral development field, explains how it differs form other workforce development approaches, how it has grown over time, what is has achieved, and how it can be used to strengthen regional economies and business competitiveness. Content was drawn from interviews with workforce program leaders, program visits and survey responses from more than 225 workforce organizations, and included are brief case studies on dozens of innovative initiatives that illustrate key aspects of the sector strategy.
- Building Effective Employer Relations (2004)
This publication from the Aspen Institute's Workforce Strategies Initiative details promising employer partnership practices, based on the experiences of 10 sector projects and their employer partners. These partnerships are being documented as part of WSI’s Documenting Demand Side Outcomes project, which was launched in 2003 to assess the value of sectoral training programs to employers within manufacturing and healthcare sectors. Among the important issues described in depth are how to select an employer partner, how to structure the relationship, and which characteristics employers value most in a program partner.
- By Design: Engaging Employers in Workforce Development Organizations (2003)
Workforce development practitioners and policymakers have come to recognize the importance of employers as customers. Too often, however, not enough time is devoted to considering, much less implementing, the organizational and programmatic changes necessary to truly engage employers. In order to help other organizations substantively involve employers in daily activities and services, this publication from Public/Private Ventures describes strategies used by three organizations to engage employers effectively in workforce-development efforts, and outlines employer-engagement strategies in detail.
- High Road Partnership Report
Across the country, unions, community groups, government, foundations, and far-sighted employers are teaming up to build a future of good jobs, successful industries, and strong communities. They are forming "high road partnerships," which share a common, broad goal: to build an economy based on skills, innovation, opportunity, sustainability, and equitably shared prosperity rather than on practices that lower living and working standards and weaken communities. In this High Road Partnership Report, the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute examines 14 high-road partnerships to identify elements likely to lead to success, barriers to effectiveness, and tools to help these and other partnerships reach their potential.