Workforce development is an American economic development approach that attempts to improve a region’s economic stability, prosperity, human resources, strategy and focusing on people rather than businesses. Workforce development has evolved from a problem-focused approach, addressing issues such as low-skilled workers or the need for more employees in a particular industry, to a holistic approach considering participants’ many barriers and the overall needs of the region. SERE’ workforce development programs focus on solutions to social equity issues.
SERE has two workforce development strategies:
1. place-based strategies that attempt to address the needs of people living in a particular neighborhood
2. sector-based strategies that focus on matching workers’ skills to needs in an industry already present in the region, such as healthcare or manufacturing.
Some contemporary workforce development programs attempt to combine elements of both approaches, linking employment training with other government programs and community resources to provide wraparound services. Across both approaches, themes for best practices have emerged. The SERE workforce development programs have a strong network of ties in the community, and are equipped to respond to changes in their environments. Additionally, SERE takes a holistic approach to the problems faced by participants. The effectiveness of these programs has been evaluated in various ways, including quantitative and qualitative techniques. Ideally, random assignment methods are used, although their utilization may be difficult in practice.
Workforce Development in Action
The responsibility for workforce development in the United States has rested on the government’s shoulders for at least a century, since the advent of public schools. This formal system of education replaced earlier days in American history when students whose parents desired them to learn a trade other than their parents’ were apprenticed. Informal schooling took place at home, depending on the household’s ability and income level. Public schools were created to prepare students to earn a living wage by providing them with skills such as reading and arithmetic. However, an employer still typically provided vocational training on the job.
Traditional workforce development has been problem-focused. Economic development practitioners evaluated neighborhoods, cities, or states on the basis of perceived weaknesses in human resource capacity. However, recent efforts view workforce development in a more positive light. Economic developers use workforce development as a way to increase equity among inhabitants of a region. Inner-city residents may not have access to equal education opportunities, and workforce development programs can increase their skill level so they can compete with suburbanites for high-paying jobs.
The SERE workforce development through Adopt a Model™ has also expanded beyond the notion of employment or vocational training. Workforce development today often takes a more holistic approach, addressing issues such as spatial mismatch or poor transportation to jobs. Programs to train workers are often part of a network of other human service or community opportunities. The types of partnerships allow SERE to develop workforce development programs and employ change. In the 1990s, sector-based workforce development programs were most commonly found in nonprofit, community-based organizations, but today they are more likely to be tied to community colleges. Additionally, sector-based programs are now more likely to be paid for by government funding rather than private donations.
SERE takes two approaches to workforce development, sector-based and place-based
The sectoral advocate speaks for the demand side, emphasizing employer or market-driven strategies, whereas the place-based practitioner is resolutely a believer in the virtue of the supply side: those low-income job seekers who need work and a pathway out of poverty. However, SERE believes the best approach is a mixed approach that provides a holistic non bias solution rather than being prejudice. Rural America is a People not a profit.
SERE approaches the sectors, or industries, in a region that are in need of specific workplace skills
These strategies focus on the demand side of workplace development and consider the industries in which it is most likely that new employees will be hired. Providing the right program is crucial because sector-based programs have higher entrance requirements than place-based strategies because their ultimate aim is to aid the sector at which they are targeted, not to increase the general hire ability of the most disadvantaged residents.
The Adopt a Model™ approach focuses primarily upon people and not profit
This is not to say SAS is not interested in monetary results, but rather speaks to its philosophy, which is—if you invest in people growth will follow. Human capital is more valuable than money! SAS believes in a social driven society. A society that creates hope, innovates answers and inspires dreams. A system that starts with today’s youth, age 14, learning skills that will open doors to public service and capitalism. A system that helps local schools create internships and educational programs.
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