In response to changing economic conditions and the demand for more efficient and more responsive government programs, states are initiating systemic reforms to improve their workforce development systems. These comprehensive changes are designed to organize categorical employment and training programs into coherent state systems that are focused on achieving results, using resources efficiently, and ensuring that job seekers, workers, and employers can easily access needed services.
This StateLine provides an overview of state systemic workforce development reforms and gives examples of the changes that states are making. The information comes from a survey of Governors' workforce policy advisors conducted by National Governors Association (NGA) staff in spring and summer 1996. The findings are based on responses from thirty-seven states and one territory.
The survey results indicate that states are both "restructuring" the entities that administer and govern programs and "reinventing" the way government works. Among the most common restructuring efforts are creating a state-level human resource investment council and developing a strategic and multiprogram planning process. A few states are establishing comprehensive regional or local workforce development boards and are restructuring state workforce development-related agencies.
States are also undertaking initiatives that are consistent with reinventing government principles, including activities to make workforce development systems more results-oriented, customer-focused, and market-driven. About half of the states responding to the survey are focusing on systemwide results and are adopting continuous improvement and quality practices. Approximately two thirds of the responding states are using customer satisfaction survey to learn about and respond to the needs of their customers. Many other states are involving the private sector to make their systems more responsive to market forces.