Sector strategies key to OH workforce policy.

By Jessie Leslie, June 13, 2013

The Governor’s Executive Workforce Board (GWIB) this week approved a proposal presented by the Office of Workforce Transformation (OWT) to implement “Industry Sector Partnerships” as the underpinning of workforce development policy in Ohio. National Skills Coalition (NSC), as a co-convener of Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships(BLU), has been a strong advocate for policies that encourage the development of sector partnerships.

The proposal defines sector partnerships as partnerships of employers within one industry that bring government, education and training, economic and workforce development, labor, and community organizations together to focus on the workforce needs of an industry within a region or statewide labor market. OWT plans to:

  • Identify and support priority sector partnerships in in-demand industries by engaging GWIB members in industry outreach, providing convening support through partner state agencies, providing access to detailed labor market data and creating industry-specific Sector Partnership Tool Kits; and
  • Provide labor market data and a basic toolkit for sector partnerships in all other industries not deemed “priority”.

The expectation is that sector strategy language will be gradually embedded in all relevant grants, formula programs and new statewide initiatives. Using this industry-led strategy, the plan is also to create and/or revise occupation-specific curriculum, increase incumbent worker training, internships and co-op opportunities in targeted areas, and to identify mechanisms to better expose youth to in-demand careers.

The Ohio Workforce Coalition (OWC), which NSC helped to initially convene, has long worked to elevate sector strategies in workforce policy and funding discussions. OWC has a number of high-performing sector strategy programs in its membership from throughout the state, including Partners for a Competitive Workforce, a Cincinnati-based tri-state collaborative that has worked lockstep with OWC leadership to promote sector policy at the state level.

Outside of Ohio, several states have begun embracing sector partnerships as a strategy to close the “skills gap” and align its workers with the skills employers need to compete globally. Recently, the Iowa legislature invested $5 million to support this strategy in the state.

Adopting sector strategies and targeting in-demand industries will help Ohio make the most of current and future workforce investments, benefitting its workers and businesses alike.

NSC looks forward to continuing its alliance with OWC and Partners for a Competitive Workforce while they partner with the Administration to implement next steps for the state.