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Launching Research: National Workforce Development 2013

May 8th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »
Over the next 20 years, the U.S. must address an aging labor force, a need for highly trained workers who can compete globally, and increasing numbers of low-income working families struggling to climb the economic ladder (Anne E. Casey Foundation)

In 2010, we launched our research to identify high-impact nonprofits working in the field of workforce development at a national level. Through that research, we identified 17 top nonprofits in the field. The dynamic field of workforce development helps keep individuals employed, businesses supplied with workers, and neighborhoods thriving.

The field of workforce development has been subject to changes big and small since 2010.  This includes changes in funding, political rhetoric, industry needs, and best practices within the field. We are now refreshing these research results (we re-run our research every three years), and we’re inviting experts once again to help identify high-impact nonprofits working in the field of workforce development. We hope that many of you will participate in this research to help inform individual donors about which nonprofits are making the biggest impact in the sector!

Scope of the Research

In this research we are asking experts to recommend up to four high-impact nonprofits working in the field of workforce development on the national or multi-state level and up to two start-up nonprofits that have the potential to scale and have an impact in the future.

What is workforce development?

Workforce development is a person-centered approach to economic development. It concentrates on building the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that are needed by individuals in the workforce to deliver services both now and in the future. It allows for both individuals and businesses to reap the benefits.

Approaches to workforce development

While many workforce development organizations view the field from a holistic perspective, workforce development interventions can also be thought of in terms of supply and demand.

Supply (the worker): This side of workforce development focuses on enhancing the worker. Some approaches include: skills training, offering job finding resources, education (through university, community college, or alternative education routes), offering training for specific trades, helping with job retention/stability, and offering support around career advancement. One important sub set of programs helps to bridge the gap for individuals who would benefit from an education or job training program, but don’t yet have the skills to fully utilize that program, such as English language or basic literacy. These programs, known as bridge programs or career pathways, are generally partnerships between community-based organizations and local community colleges.

Demand (the business): This part of workforce development is about creating new jobs, helping businesses develop positions that have potential career ladders within for workers, encouraging businesses to train and develop their employees, or provide businesses with services to train their employees. Increasingly, workforce development organizations that employ these strategies are working with employers in ways that more holistically integrate them into the process of developing trainings.

Types of Organizations

We would like to encourage experts to consider a range of nonprofits when making recommendations. Some examples are listed below:

  • Alternative staffing agencies
  • Business and industry associations
  •  chambers of commerce
  • Community based organizations and service providers (services can include education, training, networks, employers, career centers, etc.
  • Education institutions (including community colleges, universities, technical training, credentialing programs, continuing education, etc.)
  • Funders
  • Labor unions
  • Research organizations
  • Policy and advocacy organizations
  • Technical assistance providers

Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of workforce development, and have insights on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. . The survey will be open until early June 2013. We hope you will share your perspective and insights!

You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. If for some reason we have missed you, and  you’d like to share your perspective, please contact Jasmine Marrow at with information about your current position and background. We would be happy to send the survey to you. Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and we’ll check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!




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