History of the Collaborative

Background
The Triad Workforce Solutions Collaborative is a growing Funders Collaborative based in Greensboro, NC with the goals of facilitating career advancement for workers and developing a more skilled and stable workforce for employers.

This Collaborative emerged from the Greensboro Works Task Force – a group of business, community, and nonprofit leaders convened by The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and United Way of Greater Greensboro. The Task Force’s primary goal was to help the community develop a cooperative, informed and shared vision for the long-term economic success of our residents. The recommendations from the Task Force included:

National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS)
The NFWS is an unprecedented initiative of national and local funder collaboratives with the goals of career advancement for workers and a more skilled and stable workforce for employers.  The National Fund provides matching dollars and technical assistance in 32 sites nationwide.

Recommendations:

  • Establish Greensboro as an official National Fund for Workforce Solutions Site
  • Establish a Funders Collaborative (receive national grant and raise local matching dollars)
  • Establish sector-based Workforce Partnerships to support innovative solutions to workforce needs
  • Identify funders and other stakeholders who will identify “workforce solutions” as a priority

Adopted by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. (NFWS site approval was received in May of 2015)

Family Economic Success (FES) Assessment

The Aspen Institute and Annie E. Casey Foundation have created frameworks that are helping communities across the country assess strengths, challenges, gaps and opportunities in the economic success of families. This assessment tool gives particular attention to improving job opportunities and building assets for families.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Conduct awareness & education campaigns around financial literacy
  • Develop a “job resource network” community of practice/coalition
  • Transform referral systems
  • Increase availability of specific services (e.g., scholarships, financial education, transportation)
  • Determine appropriate group to spearhead these activities

Adopted by United Way of Greater Greensboro

Degrees Matter! in Greater Greensboro
This effort focuses on degree and credential completion in the greater Greensboro area. Degrees Matter! is exploring ways to provide greater access to college education for the 67,000 + residents of Guilford County who have been to college but have not earned a degree or a credential. The Lumina Foundation, Graduate! Network and CEOs for Cities are partners in this effort.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Support the launch of a community-wide campaign on degree and certification attainment
  • Establish advisory board for the collaborative effort
  • Develop business plan and operational structure to include a “portal” for community members to get information on how to “go back” and complete a degree
  • Investigate and align sustainable funding model
  • Establish marketing, branding, and outreach efforts

Adopted by the University of North Carolina –¬†Greensboro

John Molinaro

Aspen Institute In May 2012, the Task Force contracted with John Molinaro, former Co-Director of the Community Strategies Group at Aspen Institute, to assess challenges and opportunities in our community. While in Greensboro, Molinaro met with and presented to various groups in Greensboro about the importance of linking workforce and economic development to build the economic prosperity of a region, as well as proven strategies for doing so. Upon observing and assessing our community, John recommended establishing a broad-based regional workforce development partnership as a site of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. In addition to development of a workforce partnership, John also recommended the following strategies: Obtain or develop detailed regional information of workforce skill needs and resources; Develop a Theory of Change (Logic Model) for our efforts; Conduct a regional Family Economic Success planning process; Expand regional economic development efforts to include all the elements of a robust, coordinated growth-from-within initiative; and Cross-link and coordinate our economic development, workforce development and Family Economic Success initiatives. More information on these recommendations can be found in John Molinaro’s report summary.

Fred Dedrick

NFWS Invited by NFWS Executive Director Fred Dedrick, Greensboro Works sent a delegation to the June 2012 NFWS Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. In August 2012, Fred Dedrick visited Greensboro to consult with the Greensboro Works Task Force, City officials, and community leaders to discuss the National Fund’s operating model and the application process for becoming an official site. He and his message were well-received and this was a pivotal moment in the evolution of our partnership, sparking a new momentum.

Greater Greensboro Workforce Development Survey
Commissioned by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, the Human Resources Management Association of Greensboro, and the Greensboro-High Point Guilford County Workforce Development Board, the 2012 Greater Greensboro Workforce Development Survey focused on five important industry segments, and included most of the larger businesses in the Greater Greensboro area. The Survey greatly informed the work of the Greensboro Works Task Force.

The survey asked 400 local businesses about their hiring experiences and whether they had any “difficult-to-fill” jobs; 79 % agreed that they were having a hard time finding qualified applicants for a number of positions. “From the responding companies, we learned there are certain skills that were difficult to find in the recruiting process, thus making some jobs a challenge to fill with local job candidates,” says Lillian Plummer, Executive Director of the Greensboro-High Point Guilford County Workforce Development Board. Some of the most difficult-to-find skills included:

  • Industry specific certifications
  • Machining and skilled trades
  • Engineering
  • Financial analysis

Additionally, there are “soft skills” that employers considered lacking in the local labor force, most notably communication skills as well as analytical thinking skills. The survey reveals that the gap in skills required for available jobs can result in delays in filling positions, as well as the need to sometimes recruit outside the Triad to find qualified candidates. Survey respondents identified 1,775 “difficult-to-fill” jobs, with 60% being filled by local employees, 37% by candidates from outside the Triad, and 3% going unfilled.

Of the 1,775 difficult-to-fill jobs, we saw a definite divide between the types of jobs and the length of time required to make a qualified hire. A majority of the difficult-to-fill jobs included in the survey were filled within 6 months and were primarily filled by local candidates. These jobs were mostly in business administration, customer service, and healthcare generally paying $40,000 or higher. Contrasting those findings with the jobs that took much longer to fill – from 6 to 18 months – these jobs were primarily filled with candidates from outside our region or by outsourcing the work. Most of these jobs were in the Innovative Manufacturing and Aviation clusters and required highly technical skills such as engineering, machining, and information technology. Salaries for these jobs were $50,000 and higher.

Recommended solutions included continuing to focus and strengthen career and technical educational offerings and partnerships between education and businesses – especially STEM disciplines. There is a lack of understanding of the career opportunities in manufacturing – this will take marketing and education to dispel. We also need to increase and strengthen the link between community colleges and businesses experiencing workforce challenges to identify common themes and develop specialized training programs.

In March of 2014, the Community Foundation hired a dedicated director to develop and support the Funders Collaborative and the Business-led Stakeholders Coalition. In April, the Collaborative was named the Triad Workforce Solutions Collaborative (TWSC) and in May, NFWS site approval was received. In June of 2014, a contingent of nineteen business leaders along with education and nonprofit workforce development service providers and funders attended the NFWS annual meeting at which TWSC was recognized as a new NFWS site. TWSC participants meet monthly to hear about programs on best practices in workforce development and planning is in progress to attract funds for 2015 that can be granted locally to support innovative workforce development programs in our community.

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