The Sectoral Initiative in the US

August 30, 2010 by Emsi Burning Glass

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Last week, we blogged about a study from the Public/Private Ventures group. This week, the National Network of Sector Partners and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development are set to release a report (see the executive summary here) that reads well in tandem – “Sector Snapshot: A Profile of Sector Initiatives, 2010.”

Almost 200 organizations participated in this survey, conducted in 2009. Every one of the respondents identified themselves as “operating industry focused workforce development programs,” and included workforce boards, labor organizations, schools, economic development agencies, community-based organizations, and employment centers.

Where Public/Private Ventures’ data-driven assessment of the validity of the practice of focusing on specific sectors left off, the Sector Snapshot begins.

This report gives a national perspective on common industries that most strategies focus on (healthcare-focused strategies top the list), the common roles that different organizations play in a sectoral partnership, the sources of funding (and the outlook for those sources), as well as what particular services are the most common in these strategies.

From the executive summary:

Sector initiatives are operating in at least 22 separate industry sectors. As in the 2007 Snapshot, healthcare (66% of organizations), manufacturing (57%), and construction (40%) continue to be the three main industries targeted by sector initiatives, which are also three of the largest sectors of the economy. The field also reflects changing industry patterns in the economy, with more than a third of organizations targeting the energy and utilities sector, a far greater proportion than the previous survey.

The vast majority (83%) of organizations responding to the survey are involved in more than one industry focused sector initiative. Organizations are involved with a median of four sector initiatives in different industries.

According to NNSP’s extensive survey, sector strategies are having a positive effect on regional workforce development — even more than survey results from past years have shown.

Overall, the 2010 Sector Snapshot reveals that sector initiatives have become more important as a means of providing workforce development, adult literacy, post-secondary education, and economic development services. They have expanded into new industry sectors, grown in number throughout the country, involved employers in a more integrated way, broadened the types of organizations involved, and more specifically targeted the needs of low income and other disadvantaged individuals. Additionally, they are weathering the economic storm by adapting their range of services to job-seekers, incumbent workers, and businesses, and leveraging public funding associated with the economic recovery.