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Demand-driven workforce development May 3, 2006

Posted by Tom in Stronger Organizations, Workforce.
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The US Chamber of Commerce's Center for Workforce Preparation released "Finders, keepers: Business Taking Action to Secure Skilled Workers," a terrific pamphlet outlining how a handful of communities around the country built innovative, community-oriented, demand-driven workforce solutions. The common element of each should not come as a surprise, considering the authors: Local Chambers of Commerce.

Effective Chambers, who affirmatively choose to take the reins in building the workforce capacity in their serviec areas, are perhaps the greatest champions a community can ask for.  Back when I was in Chamber work, I had a simplistic rule of thumb in splitting responsibilities with our community's (non-Chamber) economic development agencies: ED agencies are the hunters and gatherers; Chambers build the communities of businesses that are already here.  

Therein lies a key role for Chambers of Commerce – to support the development of their workforce, a universally applicable member need. (We can assume 95+% of Chamber members do or will employ someone…)  It's not enough to work with schools to ensure a stronger workforce for the future, but that is also important.  It's just as critical to focus on the incumbent workforce, the people who are living the transition to the 21st Century creative/knowledge economy.  

This document is a great jumping-off point for both Chambers and other workforce-intensive partners (like WIBs, service providers, educators, etc.) to consider unique and innovative possibilities for their own communities.  

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