The workforce development field is focused on helping people get the skills and the jobs they need to sustain themselves and their family, and connecting employers who need skilled workers. It is also important to note that workforce development is not only about acquiring skills but also about access to jobs.
Workforce development refers to the field dedicated to preparing low-skilled workers who face many obstacles to gain and retain employment. Such programs usually train participants for positions in industries that typically do not require a post-secondary degree and provide opportunities for advancement. Workforce development programs address job training for jobs focusing on one industry, provide social supports to participants and their families, and help participants locate and secure jobs.
Source: Root Cause
Minnesota workforce development experts were asked to recommend nonprofit organizations that could be focused on job training, job placement, access to jobs, youth work readiness, small business development and entrepreneurship training for people with lack of access to jobs, job retention/stability, and helping employers invest in their own workforce, etc. These nonprofits might work with various populations: adults wishing to gain additional skills, immigrants, youth (around career education), adults or youth with disabilities, refugees, welfare recipients, elders, homeless people, formerly imprisoned people, businesses, or the community at large. And these nonprofits might focus on different kinds of activities: policy, research, advocacy, direct services, education, technical assistance, social enterprise (nonprofits that run businesses which employ people for job training), etc.
While there are a varieties of ways to help low-skilled workers attain permanent employment, research shows that the best approach is a program that trains participants for jobs in specific industries. An industry focus is often accomplished through program partnerships with local employers. Employer partners provide feedback and support to ensure programs train participants to meet industry needs, and that programs reflects larger economic trends and realities. Industry-focused workforce development programs should include three core components:
Philanthropedia surveyed 100 workforce development experts in Minnesota (with an average of 15 years of work experience in the field) to identify those organizations that were making the biggest impact. These experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, government officials, etc.) identified 18 workforce development nonprofits (out of 123 total reviewed nonprofits) working in Minnesota.
Graduation rates, job placement, and retention rates are the most important indicators in measuring workforce development for low-skilled workers. Long-term follow-up on participant wage increases is also ideal, but there are currently no uniform assessments carried out by all organizations, and long-term follow-up is costly. Most organizations are collecting data for at least the first six months after a participant graduates from the program.
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