WASHINGTON—More than half the nation’s states are exploring or implementing sector strategies— partnerships of employers within one industry that bring together government, education, training, economic development, labor and community organizations to identify and solve the workforce needs of that industry within a regional labor market—making them the most consistently adopted approach to meeting businesses’ need for skilled workers and workers’ need for good jobs, according to a report released today by the National Governors Association (NGA), the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and the National Skills Coalition.

State Sector Strategies Coming of Age: Implications for State Workforce Policymakers offers a snapshot of sector strategies today, an overview of what makes them different from traditional workforce and economic development programs and a description of actions that state administrators and policymakers can take as part of a policy framework to support the strategies’ creation and effective operation.

“The adoption of sector strategies as a policy framework for the Colorado Workforce Development Council provides a powerful vehicle for aligning the state’s education and training strategies with the workforce needs of key industries,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “Coloradans in every region of the state can benefit from the creation of greater employment opportunities.”

Amid the challenges of the slowly recovering national economy, states can use sector strategies to:

  • Address current and emerging skill gaps. Sector strategies offer a mechanism to focus limited resources on industries that are major job providers in an area, as well as to focus comprehensively on workforce skills required in a regional economy;
  • Provide a means to engage directly with industry across traditional boundaries. Businesses operate in economic regions that may cross city, county and state lines and education and economic development areas. Sector strategies work across these boundaries to identify and address specific workforce needs in almost every industry; and
  • Better align state programs and resources serving employers and workers. Intense demand for balancing budgets at the state level threaten initiatives in education, training, economic development, and other essential state services. Sector strategies help to reduce inefficiencies and streamline state efforts by coordinating various programs and braiding disparate funding streams intended for the same purpose.

Beyond simply replicating the model, an opportunity for state and local policymakers is to use sector strategies to integrate other potentially powerful industry-focused strategies, particularly career pathway programs and regional industry clusters.  It is here that sector strategies present a tangible way to integrate the state’s talent agenda with the goals of economic competitiveness.

“In Arizona, sector strategies have been a successful approach to building local partnerships between businesses and education, training and economic development programs,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. “Those partnerships lead to more efficient use of existing public resources, resulting in better prepared workers and career pathways to good jobs.”

To learn more, please visit www.nga.org/cms/center/ehsw.