Report: State Sector Strategies Coming of Age.

January 16, 2013

On January 16, NSC, in partnership with the National Governors Association and the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, released the new report State Sector Strategies Coming of Age: Implications for State Workforce Policymakers.

This report offers a snapshot of sector strategies today, an overview of what makes them different from traditional workforce and economic development programs and a description of actions that state administrators and policymakers can take as part of a policy framework to support the strategies’ creation and effective operation.

Sector strategies are one of the few workforce interventions with statistical evidence showing improvements in employment opportunities for workers and increases in their wages. Amidst the challenges of the slowly recovering national economy, these strategies can do the following:

  • Address current and emerging skill gaps. Sector strategies offer a mechanism to focus scarce resources on industries that are major job providers in an area, as well as to focus comprehensively on the workforce skills, from entry level to advanced, required in a regional economy. 
  • Provide a means to engage directly with industry across traditional boundaries. Businesses operate in economic regions that may cross city, county, and state lines and education and economic development areas.
  • Sector strategies work across the boundaries to identify and address specific workforce needs in almost every industry.
  • Better align state programs and resources serving employers and workers. Intense demand for balancing budgets at the state level threaten initiatives in education, training, economic development, and other essential state services. Sector strategies help to reduce inefficiencies and streamline state efforts by coordinating various programs and braiding disparate funding streams.

More than half of U.S. states are exploring or implementing sector strategies. Their efforts, combined with those of their local and regional partners, have created over one thousand sector partnerships across the country that funnel a pipeline of workers to well-paying jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.

  • In 2009 in Pennsylvania, 84 percent of surveyed employers participating in industry partnerships reported significant increases in productivity. 
  • The Aspen Institute found that 48 percent of participants in sector-based programs exited poverty. 
  • In Massachusetts, 41 percent of surveyed employers participating in sector partnerships reported reduced turnover; 19 percent reported less rework on the job; 23 percent reported fewer customer complaints; and 100 percent of the companies said that participation in a sector partnership was valuable.

Based on more than a decade of knowledge gained, lessons learned, and evidence that sector strategies work, it is clear that they will continue to grow and evolve, especially in states and localities that have already adopted the approach. States are finding sector strategies key to addressing skills gaps, engaging directly with industry and streamlining state programs and resources.

Check out the full report to learn more about the development of state policies and programs to support sector strategies in your state.