Sharpening Skills: Atlanta Fed Ebook Examines Effective Workforce Development Partnerships

March 1, 2016

Models for Labor Market Intermediaries cover image

As technology has changed the nature of work, the creativity and technical savvy of workers have become prime attractions for executives and personnel managers.

That reality is straightforward enough. But it's not easy to cultivate the sort of smarts the 21st century industry craves. A new ebook from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's Community and Economic Development (CED) group aims to help key constituents better understand how partnerships can improve the quality of local labor forces.

Edited by CED's Stuart Andreason, Models for Labor Market Intermediaries features case studies exploring collaborations among traditional government workforce development groups, economic development organizations, and community development agencies. The case studies, written by economic and workforce development practitioners and academics, address fundamental labor market issues:

  • How to engage in workforce development
  • How to create programs and partnerships
  • How to identify promising ways to prepare workers for the labor market.
Book offers examples for community, economic, workforce developers
Models for Labor Market Intermediaries book cover

"These case studies should act as examples of the types of efforts and considerations that may be helpful to community, economic, or workforce development organizations as they think about how they can serve as intermediaries in promoting skill attainment and employability," Andreason writes in the ebook's introduction.

Chapters in the ebook cover a lot of ground. For example, one case study examines how the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Workforce Investment Board reoriented training and job placement efforts to satisfy the demands of local employers. Another discusses the New York City government's multi-agency program to sharpen services for low-income job seekers. Yet another case study explores privatized services and performance-based contracting in Australia, and then assesses the potential use of those practices in the U.S. system.

The ebook additionally features a chapter describing how a construction company partnered with local schools, workforce development organizations, and philanthropies to train workers as a way to combat high employee turnover. Finally, another case study looks at work in Nashville to address a reported mismatch between the skills businesses demanded and those available in the local labor pool.

Models for Labor Market Intermediaries is not a cut-and-paste work, Andreason explains. The strategies and programs the ebook profiles likely can't be exactly duplicated in most communities. But the case studies describe efforts to tackle challenges common across many locales.

"What many of the case studies have in common are stories of a few individuals or a few groups that embarked on new work, experimented with programs, and built new connections between groups that had typically operated in isolation," Andreason writes.

You can download Models for Labor Market Intermediaries and learn more about the CED's workforce development work.

Charles Davidson

Staff writer for Economy Matters