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Putting People to Work in High-Demand, High-Growth Sectors

Attendees of this session on place-based approaches to workforce development were treated to many practical ideas from the panelists, who described their successful workforce development programs. University Hospitals, for example, maintains 2 complementary programs to develop talent. One is designed to recruit workers from the surrounding community into entry-level positions at the hospital, and the other prepares current employees to move into higher-skilled, higher-paying positions within the healthcare system. The hospital, like many other businesses, works closely with nonprofits that do much of the applicant recruitment and preemployment training. In addition, some nonprofits provide job coaching to participants after they have been placed, one feature of these programs the panelists said has been key to the programs’ success.


“Outcomes are great,” said Debbi Perkul, senior workforce development strategist at University Hospitals. “The programs are being woven into the fabric of our hiring system.”

Research highlights:

Comparing the outcomes of participants exposed to a pathways approach to workforce development (a comprehensive provision of services focused on targeted sectors and emphasizing advancement) to the outcomes of participants who received standard services, pathways participants complete their training and are placed in jobs more often. Half advance to higher-paying jobs, and those with a criminal background get jobs and advance at the same rate as those without.

Practical application:

Provide postemployment coaching for workers who have been recruited to fill entry-level jobs and who have gone through preemployment training.

Businesses should have both a program for recruiting entry-level workers and a program for developing the careers of existing employees; one is the feeder system, and the other clears the ranks to make way for new employees.

To deliver the comprehensive skills workforce development program that participants need, institutions and nonprofits need to partner with each other and with educational institutions.