Partnerships: A Key Driver of Success in Workforce Development

Posted in: Blog
By: Heather Ballachey

We have had the pleasure of working with many nonprofits focused on workforce development in our years of helping clients build powerful and sustainable information systems so they can serve their communities more effectively. Important areas of focus for many workforce development organizations include removing barriers to employment such as childcare, training, transportation and technical skills. What is equally important for workforce development organizations (and is often under-prioritized) is engagement and long-term partnerships with employers. Our team has published a helpful guide diving into important highlights of successful workforce development partnerships entitled “Effective Workforce Partnerships: A Strong Foundation for Employer Engagement”. Here we will share just a few of the important insights described in this guide. We encourage you to access the free download to have it all at your fingertips!

Key Players in Workforce Development Partnerships

The most crucial players involved in strategic employer engagement partnerships include:

  • Employers (no surprise there)
  • Community-focused organizations 
  • Educators
  • Economic agencies

Each of these distinct groups has different needs, motivations and aspects of the employer engagement relationship they should be focusing on. Understanding how these different groups interact is critical for the overall success of any workforce development partnership.

Partnership Types

Although there are different schools of thought on this, there are three different partnership models that are typically seen in the area of workforce development:

  • Hub and spoke: often with the lead agency and its training partners/employers
  • Inner and outer rings: small groups in the outer rings focus on operations while the inner circle focuses on systemic change
  • Full partnership: partners play an equal role and meet regularly

Download our guide to dive into the more specific aspects of these three different partnership models and how you can better align goals and objectives between the parties involved.

Best Practices

Understanding what typically works best (and what doesn’t) in a given partnership model involves niche expertise as well as, frankly, common sense. Understanding how the players involved share a partnership mindset (or conversely, don’t), what opportunities or priorities should be identified and how to repeat the process are all important aspects to understand. 

Why and How?

Understanding why all the players involved in workforce development benefit from partnerships is an important aspect of building your strategy. Employers may be open to partnerships as a way to find qualified candidates, reduce costs and access skills training they cannot support directly. Community organizations may engage in partnerships to build specific knowledge of industries, establish credibility and expand networks. Understanding how workforce development partnerships provide value to all stakeholders involved is a critically important component to understand. 

The Long Game: Vision, Impact, Measurement

Building a vision for your organization’s workforce development partnerships model takes time. Not only that, but having the right processes and systems in place to accurately measure the impact of your efforts on the community as a whole is crucial. Being able to demonstrate outcomes and evaluate the success of your ongoing partnerships is a key driver of long-term success.

Interested to learn more about how effective employer engagement can drive workforce development success? Download our guide today!