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This summer, the Georgia Department of Economic Development awarded $1.5 million to support the development of sector partnerships in six workforce regions in the state. The awards are part of a $3 million competitive grant program to build sector partnerships across the state under its High Demand Career Initiative.
Sector partnerships bring together multiple employers within an industry to collaborate with colleges, schools, labor, workforce agencies, community organizations and other community stakeholders to align training with the skills needed for that industry to grow and compete. These partnerships are required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and Georgia is using WIOA state discretionary dollars to fund its grant program.
In addition to providing grants, the Georgia Department of Economic Development is offering technical assistance to help regions develop partnerships. The department has created a Sector Partnership Guide hosted regional workshops, and is planning a grantee conference.
A coalition led by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and in collaboration with Atlanta CareerRise, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, and Georgia Business Leaders United (BLU), started working with National Skills Coalition in 2015 to promote sector partnerships as a key way to address the skill needs of Georgia’s workers and businesses. Coalition members believe the state’s support for sector partnerships will help communities across Georgia make progress toward closing the skills gap. In fact, Metro Atlanta’s five workforce boards were jointly awarded a $400,000 two-year grant to develop partnerships in the healthcare, IT, and logistics sectors, in collaboration with Metro Atlanta Chamber and Atlanta CareerRise.
National Skills Coalition has advocated for states to provide funding, technical assistance, and guidance to support regional sector partnerships positioned to close the skill gap in key industries. We’re pleased to add Georgia to the list of states with such a policy in place. For more on how to develop a sector partnership policy in your state, check out NSC’s Sector Partnership Policy Toolkit.
Rachel Hirsch is State Network Manager at National Skills Coalition. Amy Lancaster is the Director of Workforce Development at Metro Atlanta Chamber, which works to advance economic growth, enhance the business climate and improve the quality of life for each and every person who calls Atlanta home.