Employers Support Federal Investment in Sector Initiatives

Do businesses think federal funding should support sector initiatives? Absolutely.

NNSP members, their employer partners, and others have made it clear: businesses value employment and training services that provide them qualified new hires, enhance the skills of their existing employees, and/or contribute to their competitiveness in the global marketplace.

In fact, they demand such services and advocate strongly for federal support of them.

In collaboration with the National Association of Workforce Boards, we have developed a clear, concise statement that gathers employer testimonials and outcomes data. To view it, click here.

We also continue to collect data and testimonials such as those shown below. If you would like to contribute a statement or information about the benefits you have experienced as an employer - or that one of your employer partners has experienced - please contact us at nnspinfo@insightcced.org.

Data on Employer Benefits

84 percent of businesses surveyed reported that Pennsylvania's Industry Partnerships and training they provide helped them significantly increase their productivity (more than 6,300 businesses received services in the reporting year, 2008). Pennsylvania's Workforce Investment Boards are deeply involved in leading and supporting the Industry Partnerships and the state targeted Workforce Investment Act funded training to the high priority occupations Industry Partnerships focus on.

Sources: Industry Partnerships in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry: High Priority Occupations Policy

68 percent of responding employers reported a measurable return on investment for the time and financial resources devoted to sector initiatives in healthcare, finance, and manufacturing supported by the Building Essential Skills though Training (BEST) program in Massachusetts. 46 percent of responding employers reported cost reductions and improved profitability, including decreased turnover for participating employees. 96 percent of responding employers reported that the training BEST provided was valuable to their companies, and 100 percent reported that their participation with other companies in the sector was valuable to their company.

Source: BEST Benefits: Employer Perspectives

Employer Testimonials

“Last year was one of the best we've ever had, profit-wise, due to our investments in our new lower-wage workforce. One way of measuring the impact is that even in the middle of the recession we did better than other, similar facilities in our company. Our partnership with a sector initiative, Manufacturing Works, for assistance with recruiting and retention, and our own cross-training and coaching, were major contributors to our profitability. Our new lower-wage workers benefited too. Many moved up and got substantial pay increases. In the longer run, investing in them will allow us to fill positions in-house, and eliminate additional training costs for anybody coming from the outside."

Areli Cazares, Human Resources Manager, Wheatland Tube

"Even now, employers just like my metal stamping company are ready to hire but unable to find workers with the right sets of skills. A national study this year by Deloitte, The Manufacturing Institute and Oracle found that 51 percent of companies reported a shortage of skilled production workers. . . Public investment in targeted job training today will be less expensive than continuing to extend unemployment benefits or paying higher social-welfare costs longer term for lower-skilled workers or others whose jobs will be gone or changed after the recession. . . Training developed in collaboration with specific industries also has proven results. For example, Minnesota's "M-Powered" Program brings together the Precision Metal Forming Association, Hennepin Technical College, and HIRED - a Twin Cities social services agency. To date, more than 300 men and women have graduated from the M-Powered program. Many are on excellent career ladders, employed at Twin Cities metal forming companies, including my factory. . . Job training alone will not solve our economic challenges. But if we as want all Minnesotans to be a part of a recovery, policy makers must invest in specific strategies that have been shown to effectively train workers in skills that have currency in current and emerging industries. It's an economic necessity for Minnesota's businesses and families."

Erick Ajax, third generation metalworker and co-owner of E.J. Ajax in Fridley, Minnesota

"As a business representative from Allete, Inc. on the Governor's Workforce Development Council, I can attest to the growing demand for skilled workers in Minnesota. Demographic and educational attainment data make it clear that there is a need for more of the 'right' skill training, not less.  I believe that WIA-funded skill training initiatives, like Minnesota FastTRACwhich focuses skill training on industry recognized credentials,are the best solution to prepare readily available adults with the necessary skills to meet employers' workforce needs. Strengthening the skills of our current workforce is the only way that Minnesota businesses will remain competitive and keep the state's economy growing over the next 20 years."

Inez Wildwood, MSE, L.P., Manager, Talent Acquisition & Development, Allete, Inc.

"The Jobs to Careers behavioral health program at Temple University's Episcopal Hospital Campus has benefited our workforce, our institution, and our patients. We are most appreciative of how the curriculum developed through this project focused on the interaction between the mental health workers and the patients. More education for the frontline staff through this pilot has translated into improved quality of care. We are also excited that the work-based learning curriculum supports career advancement for the mental health staff by qualifying successful completers with 21 college credits toward a degree as well as a pay increase."

Kathleen Baron, Executive Director, Episcopal Hospital, Temple University Health System

"Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! has been extremely innovative and effective in helping the many different businesses in Michigan Operations at Dow Chemical become and remain competitive. Through joint collaborative planning to work with other regional employers and our local Community College, they have helped to ensure that we have a reliable and highly skilled supply of new employees to run our plants. The jobs are highly technical and specialized in chemical processing and in the past the regional employers have competed, rather than worked together to improve the base of qualified candidates to fill our critical needs. Being able to ensure the right number of highly skilled employees to meet the needs as we grow is one of the competitive advantages our site uses to attract new or business growth. GLB Michigan Works! has developed programs that are collaborative and supportive of us as a large regional employer. Michigan Works! has thus helped us to recruit qualified candidates into the training programs and improve diversity which also creates improved competitiveness.

In addition to helping to supply highly skilled new employee candidates, Michigan Works! has shown a true understanding of the global competitive environment and the importance of constantly improving and learning new skills of our incumbent employees in order to attract new and retain our existing businesses in Michigan. To do this they have developed programs in which they assess and train our incumbent employees in foundational skills in order that they will be successful in subsequent technology specific advanced learning. They have also helped us to apply for incumbent worker training grants to aid in making our huge investment in training more feasible.

Through this tough economic time, our partnership with Michigan Works! has been critical to enabling business success in Michigan Operations. As Dow looks to maintain and grow business in this region, we look forward to developing other innovative programs and solutions together."

Jennifer Hayes, Organizational Effectiveness/Culture Change & Learning Leader, Dow Chemical - Michigan Operations

"In the maritime industry, we are acutely aware of the need for workers with the right skills to fill critical jobs. By participating in the WDC's Maritime Skills Panel, our company is helping to define and direct the solution."

Chris Peterson, VP of Operations, Crowley Marine--Seattle

The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County sponsored a Maritime Skills Panel, which brought the biggest maritime employers, unions and training institutions in the Seattle area together to identify the needs of employers in this sector - one of the most important sectors to the local economy and one that is still in need of skilled workers. The industry is facing changing regulations and an aging workforce that is not being replaced by young people or enough workers transferring from other industries. The skills panel allowed all these players to plan together, mapping career pathways, increasing collaboration among training centers, and creating a new website to inform and draw workers. Federal Workforce Investment Act funding supports this and other proactive industry initiatives.

"The Workforce Development Councils will continue to be very relevant because there isn't any other organization that can bring all these players together to find solutions to industry needs."

David Allen, Executive Vice President, McKinstry Co., Seattle, Washington

McKinstry Co. recently won the national W.O. Lawton Business Leadership Award from the National Association of Workforce Boards for its collaboration on green jobs and skills with the Workforce Development Council of Seattle King-County.

"Working with the Industry Partnership (IP) has been a rewarding experience. Our employees are excited at the opportunity to learn additional skills to further their careers through the IP and JOIN. As an employer, we appreciate that the IP has been able to bring in subject matter experts to facilitate growth and development for our employees at a reduced cost. It is a winning combination!"

Kyle Zimmerman, MS, PHR, Human Resources Generalist, Hahnemann University Hospital

"The whole association has been a godsend. The confidence and competence that the employers and workers develop together is extremely beneficial because it reduces communication problems and risk of injury, to name a few. I would encourage any area employer to join the Partnership. The sharing of resources and information will be of great benefit."

Linda Dezenski, Chief Operating Officer, Liberty Resources

"The Training Futures internships give our managers the chance to see how much Training Futures interns bring to the table. It also gives trainees exposure to a medical setting so they can see if they like it. Inova has hired over 25 employees from Training Futures over the years. We have been so fortunate with them, because most of them are still with us. Inova loves to have employees who join us to learn and grow. Training Futures graduates have been top quality employees!"

Barbara Voorheis, Senior Employment Specialist, Inova Health System

"As an owner of a small family business that employs ten people I have seen the positive results that can happen as a result of the Workforce Investment Act. This program has resulted in the training of an individual with virtually no skills in the precision machining industry to become a valued member of my company. Without the Workforce Investment Act helping with the costs of training, this person would not have been able to enter the workforce and create a better life for herself and her family. This program helps people make better lives for themselves and for our society."

Greg Fletcher, Owner/President, SLP Machine, Inc

"If you walked into it, you would think you were in a CVS store. Everybody wins in this kind of situation. The clients of these agencies win because they get a career-path job. The [workforce] agencies are trying to get these folks employed and given career-path opportunities. And we're getting good employees. So we all win."

Steve Wing, Director, Workforce Initiatives, CVS Caremark

CVS has partnered with One-Stop Career Centers to create a specialized network of Retail Learning Centers.  Each center is a meticulous replica of a real worksite.