Fragmentation in Workforce Development and Efforts to Coordinate Regional Workforce Development Systems

Stuart Andreason and Ann Carpenter
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Community and Economic Development Department
Discussion Paper 2015-2
April 2015

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The importance of human capital in regional economic competitiveness is increasingly apparent. However, structural changes, fragmentation, the instability of funding, and other factors have led to challenges for workforce development providers as well as workforce development systems. This fragmentation has created a less coherent and coordinated workforce development system. Often, metropolitan areas have many programs and policies in place to train workers for jobs that require sub-baccalaureate credentials or skills. The lack of coordination in local training systems may limit the information available to job and training seekers, create duplication of services among providers, and discourage outcome measurement and program evaluation.

This paper examines many of these trends and discusses the current state of the workforce development system in the United States by using the Atlanta metropolitan area as a case study. A number of commissioned studies focused on the Atlanta metropolitan area's workforce development system are summarized as local examples of these trends, including recommendations for improving regional collaboration. Finally, lessons learned from successful regional workforce development models in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Detroit provide guidance for forging a successful strategy for regional workforce development. These regional collaboratives suggest a way to improve information, programming, and alignment in local job training ecosystems.

JEL classification: J5, O1, O2, R5

Key words: labor policy, regional labor policy, economic development, workforce development, regional workforce intermediaries


The authors would like to thank Joe Rondone, Kendra Howard, Janice Urbanik, Robert Wordlaw, Loh-Sze Leung, Cinda Herndon-King, and Kathy Krepcio. The views expressed here are the authors' and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors' responsibility.

Comments to the authors are welcome at Stuart.Andreason@atl.frb.org and Ann.Carpenter@atl.frb.org.