Strategic Workforce Development Defined

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By: C.N. Staff Writer

In recent years, the field of workforce development has emerged as a distinct area of policy and practice. Centers of higher learning — professional think tanks, institutes of higher learning, colleges and universities, etc., study the environments and they attempt to put into practice the most worthwhile and calculated programs.

Workforce Planning is a core function of human resource management and is related to the identification and analysis of what an organization is going to need in terms of the size, type, experience, knowledge, skills and quality of workforce to achieve its objectives.

Their objectives are mainly to improve the workforce while educating and training. The types of training that are put in place encompass the specific and necessary needs of the potential workforce. As we encounter unemployed and undereducated people, it is important for workforce development leaders to build and develop programs that are going to serve the population in the best and boldest ways.

While planning scholars have begun to engage with the workforce development field, its relevance and points of connection to planning scholarship remain under explored.

By examining the connection to planning and execution, scholars are more versed on the particulars and objectives of the quandary that is workforce development.

A significant contributor to poverty is a set of barriers that keep millions of youth and adults off career pathways. Educational failure, criminal backgrounds, and substance abuse take millions of Americans out of the workforce, while transportation barriers, language and illiteracy, physical and mental disability, lack of affordable child care, and homelessness prevent millions more from achieving economic success.

Planning scholars, sociologists, psychologists, and business leaders have begun to study, in depths, some of the roots of the problems associated with the barriers that inhibit citizens from being more successful. The human costs of this situation reach far into the future, as the cycle of poverty and low expectations traps generation after generation. 

The inability of many individuals to find their way from public assistance to productive work takes an unacceptable toll on our economy.  The almost six million youth and young adults not in school or working, a group known as “opportunity youth,” cost taxpayers $93 billion annually and $1.6 trillion over their lifetimes.  

At the same time, many U.S. employers say that a shortage of qualified workers is their biggest obstacle to growth.  Despite the unemployment crisis, employers are unable to find qualified workers for an estimated five million U.S. jobs.  By 2020, 65 percent of all American jobs will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school.  

There are specific PRIORITIES set forth by Workforce Development Specialists that will ensure that we are arching in the right direction. Here are a few:

1.     Effective implementation of the
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity
Act (WIOA).
2. Expand available resources and
prioritize investments in proven
programs.  
3. Engage employers as a primary
client of the workforce training system.
4. Think comprehensively about
education, nonprofit partners,
workforce organizations, and
employers, and make it easier to
assemble and connect resources.
5. Allow for flexibility to achieve
targets and fund outcomes.   
6. Improve data access and utilization
and emphasize accountability.
7.  Support “bridge building” work
experience through social enterprise,
internships, and national service.

Although there are many challenges, workforce development strategists believe that more people facing barriers to employment could be put on pathways to self-sufficiency if the preceeding principles were reflected in federal, state and local policies. 
It is time to do the hard work of developing federal workforce policies and programs to ensure students, youth, and adults from all backgrounds succeed economically.

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