Why Should Workforce Development Boards Work with Economic Development Partners?

Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist ·

Did you know that the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) requires Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) to partner with Economic Development Organizations (EDOs)? The benefit of this partnership reaches far and wide. By working with EDOs, Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) will be able to identify new services, align resources and deliver training service offerings which meet the needs of employers.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that between the years 2016 and 2026 there will be a 10.5% increase in jobs that require more than a high school education. There is no time more urgent than now for Workforce Development Boards to partner with EDOs in order to align the correct resources and deliver impactful training services.

Services and program offerings must continue to evolve to meet the existing and changing needs of the region. Most importantly, we need to ensure employers have access to a skilled workforce, while providing opportunities for jobseekers. New service models with better aligned training offerings that meet the needs of the region will result in more successful placement of unemployed and underemployed adults, and youth will gain meaningful, long-term employment. Making this a reality requires strong partnerships with EDOs.

EDOs are skilled at developing long- and short-term strategies that promote regional business growth, while sustaining existing businesses. Is your WDB aware of these strategies? Does your strategic plan align with and support their long- and short-term strategies for regional growth?

WDBs are in the business of providing services. It is crucial that we continuously look at our operations and service effectiveness. By working together, WDBs will expand their market outreach to new employers and identify new employment opportunities for jobseekers, while determining new training services that will meet employers’ current and future needs. The end result is that WDBs will be able to align services to grow and improve the connection between employers and jobseekers. Does your team have the tools needed to engage employers?

The goal of WIOA is to help jobseekers and workers gain access to employment, education, and training by offering ease of access to supporting services needed to succeed in the labor market. On the employer side, the main objective is matching organizations with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.

By working together in partnership, staff can support sector strategies (industry partnerships) in attracting business leadership, encouraging educational enhancement offerings and supporting the growth of specific industries.

Benefits of Partnering with WDBs and EDOs

Other benefits of partnering WDBs and EDOs includes coordinating:

  • labor market research
  • job placement services
  • education enhancement
  • professional training opportunities
  • reemployment strategies

WDBs should work with regional EDOs to align workforce development, economic development and outreach activities that have a shared set of objectives such as supporting sector partnerships (industry partnerships). Joint business services team staff can conduct focus groups to accomplish several key tasks.

Working together enables both WDB and EDO partners to promote the assets of the region, including but not limited to: a skilled workforce, educational facilities, housing, transportation and other amenities. What a great business attraction tool! By working together through shared strategies and business engagement, both organizations are able to be more responsive and supportive of business’ needs, while promoting employment opportunities for jobseekers and young adults.

Is your WDB working with EDOs? If you are interested in building, enhancing and strengthening this relationship, email me at Tkaufman@edsisolutions.com.