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State-level workforce-ED innovation April 5, 2006

Posted by Tom in Innovation, Research.
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Jobs for the Future (link to the right) has done outstanding work at sharing the latest in workforce innovations on a number of fronts, including the alignment of workforce and economic development. Their 2005 report, "Building Skills, Increasing Economic Vitality: A Handbook of Innovative State Policies" itemizes a number of these developments at the state level.

A favorite quote from the report came from Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who used her 2004 State of the State address to make the following assertion that summarizes the core philosophy of workforce-economic development alignment:

We must pave a third road to a powerhouse economy because businesses need more than access to capital. They need a flow of human capital—a skilled workforce to give Michigan’s businesses an edge when competition is fierce and margins are tight. In the last century, businesses came to Michigan looking for strong backs. Today, they also need strong minds ready for continuous learning, skilled hands, and an ethic of excellence.

As for the report, it does an excellent job of describing how states have leveraged their positions as "laboratories of democracy" to faciliate the alignment. Specifically mentioned are Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky and Florida. Other interesting associated topics in the report include:

  • Redesigning financing for workforce development – Mixing combinations of restrictive funding streams to develop initiatives that are larger in scope than any one stream (like Indiana's Strategic Skills Initiative)
  • Building the capacity of existing labor market institutions
  • Expanding community college capacity
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