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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Liu

Conclusion : The Importance of Cross-Sector Collaboration in the Workforce Development Effort

How networks of educators, policymakers, businesses, and employers generate holistic and applicable workforce training solutions.

Workforce development is an economic, political, and social issue. Its efficacy depends on the degree of communication and collaboration between government agencies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and corporations. Each entity has a unique perspective of and function in the workforce ecosystem based on its area of expertise.

Roles of Respective Institutions

Government agencies support the career training initiatives of other institutions, often through grants and policy.

  1. One of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s (ARC) investment priorities falls in “workforce ecosystems,” aiming to provide the social services that workers need to access and retain their jobs. ARC funds projects that develop robust transportation systems, reliable healthcare networks, adequate housing, childcare services, and substance recovery programs. ARC also funded educational institutions like the Westmoreland Community College to enable students in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to enter developing manufacturing sectors in their home communities. 

Educational institutions lead students through classroom and hands-on instruction based on curriculums crafted in collaboration with other types of institutions. Educational institutions are responsible for ensuring that the accessibility of their courses is equitable to students of all backgrounds.

  1. The Patrick & Henry Community College (PHCC) in Martinsville, Virginia offers associate degrees, certificates, and career study certificates through advanced manufacturing and skilled trades curriculums. PHCC also has a “Mobile Learning Lab” that contains an advanced engineering and mechatronics training space and can be driven to various companies for onsite employee training.

  2. The Westmoreland Community College (WCC) in southwestern Pennsylvania has an Advanced Technology Center that houses modern classroom and lab facilities for students to explore additive manufacturing, applied industrial technology, and Computer-Aided Design (CAD). WCC extends its state-of-the-art curriculum to remote learners by offering self-paced ed2go online courses. WCC trains students currently in the workforce by administering an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic Apprenticeship, which offers evening classes once a week at the Advanced Technology Center. 

  3. The North Central State College in north-central Ohio offers a unique high school dual-enrollment program known as College Credit Plus, through which students in grades 7-12 have the opportunity to begin on a career pathway of interest (e.g., psychology, engineering, communications) by taking accredited college courses at any Ohio public college. Adult learners at North Central receive access to manufacturing apprenticeships, on-demand instruction in a mobile learning trailer, and the Integrated System Technology (IST) Lab, a maker space enhancing the study of manufacturing hardware-related fields. 

  4. Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin allows employers to visit the school and modify curriculums to teach the most employable skills. Gateway also serves on development corporations and workforce boards to identify the workforce needs of local corporations and craft programs to address those needs. All Gateway programs are sponsored by local employers, ensuring that “all aspects—the faculty, development, and curriculum, even the lab experience—reflect what students will see going out into the workforce.”

  5. The Career Academy in Martinsville, Virginia, uses its connections to local businesses, schools, and employers to help students gain real-world job experience and enhance the learning experiences students have at the Career Academy’s facility. For example, the Career Academy partners with staff at nearby community colleges and businesses to oversee the cybersecurity program. In addition, the Career Academy helps students enter the O’Henry Work Experience Program at the Patrick & Henry Community College, through which they are assigned coaches who search for internships and job shadowing opportunities in the students’ desired career fields. The Career Academy also has employers visit the school’s facility to inspect the coursework and understand how the members of the community’s future workforce are being trained.

Liaisons create a platform for each entity in the workforce development effort to discuss their perspective on the issue with other entities to craft holistic training solutions.

  1. The Launch Manistee Network (LMN) serves as a platform for local school districts, Local College Access Networks (LCANs), Manistee business partners, and community colleges to collectively work toward producing a 100% graduation rate among Manistee high school students and a 60% post-secondary degree attainment rate among Manistee County residents aged 25-64.

  2. The National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC) partners with over 50 major manufacturing corporations to discuss present-day workforce demands and then advise over 170 community colleges on ways to meet those needs through each school’s curriculums.

  3. GENEDGE is a manufacturing consulting firm that works with four-year colleges in Virginia to guide students toward manufacturing careers.

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