Workforce Development

A trained, readily available workforce is essential to retain existing industries and to attract new ones in America’s communities. Regional councils and MPOs promote regional and market-based approaches to worker training through strategic alliances with the private sector, community leaders and academic institutions. Local elected officials, many who serve on regional council and MPO boards, provide strong leadership and sound oversight for workforce programs, including by participating in state and local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs).

Workforce Development Policy Brief

Workforce Development programs enhance a regions economic stability and prosperity by focusing on people rather than businesses. In 1998, Congress passed the Workforce Investment Act, which is the primary source of federal funding for workforce development activities. The intention of  WIA was to provide job training and employment services for workers ranging from dislocated workers to low-income adults and youth through a universal system of one-stop career centers. While important changes to WIA were outlined under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009, the law has not been reauthorized since 1998. In March of 2013 on a near party-line vote, the House passed its version of reauthorization – the SKILLS Act (HR 803) – which makes drastic changes, cuts and consolidations to the workforce development system. In the Senate, a bipartisan bill is being considered that would update, streamline and improve the workforce service delivery system while retaining the local governance structure and flexibility.

More information on Workforce Investment Act reauthorization and policy resources are available HERE. NARC’s policy statement on Workforce Development is available HERE.

Contact Joanna Turner, or 202.618.5689, with questions.

NARC Member Case Studies

  • Economic Advancement for Low Income Individuals - Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG), Belton, TX: The Central Texas Workforce System services are developed to promote the delivery of programs and services to meet the needs of business, industry, and workers. Potential Welfare to Work and low income customers are also identified through referral by Workforce System partners who provide services to common customer groups – for example, the local county human service agency, the H.E.L.P. Center provides emergency assistance, indigent health care, etc. In support of the Workforce System, the H.E.L.P. Center provides the immediate service needs of their customers and then formally refers their customers to the Central Texas Workforce Centers to begin addressing their employment needs.
  • Aligning the Talent Pool with the Employer Needs - Green River Area Development District (GRADD), Owensboro, KY: GRADD’s Workforce Development Department provides employers with qualified employees to improve the economic stability of the region. They have identified six industry sectors as high demand occupations. These sectors include: Energy, Advanced Manufacturing, Health Care, Transportation, Finance, and Scientific.  Sector strategies result in education and training investments that are directly responsive to specific needs of employers in their region.
  • Job-Placement Support Services and Youth Advancement - Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG), San Antonio, TX: Workforce Solutions Alamo provides job seekers across the region with access to an array of programs and services at no cost. They offer current job listings and referrals to companies that are hiring, access to computerized job banks, workshops on resume writing, interviewing techniques and strategies for conducting a successful job search, as well as interest and aptitude testing.  In addition, they also provide specialized programs for eligible individuals, such as job search assistance and skills training for laid-off workers and low-income adults and youth.

Workforce Development Resources

NARC Resources

  • Pathways Out of Poverty: In April 2012, NARC and several national and regional partners completed a Pathways Out of Poverty project funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The program was designed to serve dislocated and disadvantaged individuals in four regions across the country with a green job training and placement program.

Federal Resources

U. S. Department of Labor (DOL)

  • Employment Training Administration (ETA): ETA contributes to the more efficient and effective functioning of the U.S. labor market by providing high quality job training, employment, labor market information, and income maintenance services primarily through State and local workforce development systems.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS): BLS is the principal fact-finding agency for the U.S. government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics and serves as a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System. It collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates essential statistical data for the American public, the U.S. Congress, other Federal agencies, State and local governments, business, and labor representatives.
  • Veterans’ Employment Training Service (VETS): VETS serves America’s veterans and separating service members by preparing them for meaningful careers, providing employment resources and expertise, and protecting their employment rights.
  • Women’s Bureau (WB): WB formulates standards and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment. It is the only federal agency mandated to represent the needs of wage-earning women in the public policy process.

Make it in America Challenge

  • Announced in September 2012, this interagency partnership brings together the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST-MEP) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to provide the critical infrastructure, strategic planning, capacity building, technical assistance, and workforce skills training necessary for American communities to be the desired home for more businesses. Through a series of competitive funding opportunities, the initiative focuses on bolstering the nation’s capacity to build a new-generation, advanced manufacturing infrastructure that will align the workforce with employer needs and encourage businesses to keep production in America.

Non-Profit Resources

  • Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW): NARC is a member of the CIAW coalition of national organizations whose members are helping people of all ages and conditions raise their skills, gain employment, and advance with U.S. businesses that need skilled workers to compete in today’s rapidly restructuring economy.
  • National Skills Coalition: This non- profit organizes broad-based coalitions seeking to raise the skills of America’s workers across a range of industries. They advocate for public policies that invest in what works, as informed by their members’ real-world expertise.
  • National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB): NAWB represents approximately 600 Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and their 12,000 business members that coordinate and leverage workforce strategies with education and economic development stakeholders within their local communities, to ensure that state and local workforce development and job training programs meet the needs of employers.. NAWB is the only association that advocates for Workforce Investment Boards.
  • The National Fund for Workforce Solutions: The Fund is dedicated to preparing jobseekers and employees for a career, not just a job. The National Fund brings together local and regional leaders from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to spark and drive innovation. They work hand-in-hand to create practices and systems that can help employers and employees succeed in a post-recession economy.
For more information contact Joanna Turner at or 202.986.1032 x216.

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