JUNE 8, 2017

Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) and the Workforce Benchmarking Network (WBN) are pleased to release Learning to Thrive: How data can fuel better workforce development results – Lessons from the Twin Cities Benchmarking Initiative.

This report describes a multi-year Benchmarking Initiative in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota: its design and approach to capacity building with community-based workforce development providers, the role of funders in nurturing culture change, and the results achieved. It also highlights important lessons for workforce development organizations and funders in other communities to consider.

Guiding principles of the work in the Twin Cities include:

  • Doing more with less. As resources for workforce development programs grow tighter, it’s even more important to discern with more real-time data what’s working well (and for whom) so that limited resources can be most effectively used.
  • Building a culture of learning and innovation. This is key to quickly adapting to a changing environment and to customers with changing needs.
  • Promoting “professional excellence” and “high performance.” This work supports organizations in the workforce development field as they focus more on results, through the use of continuous improvement and innovation approaches that have been applied in other fields for many years.
  • Applying customer-focused design principles. The program improvement processes used in the Twin Cities incorporated “system” level perspectives, including insights from multiple levels of staff, job seekers, employers and community partners.

Since 2004, the Workforce Benchmarking Network has helped workforce development organizations move beyond collecting data for funder compliance requirements to embracing data as a rich resource for increasing knowledge, improving services, and strengthening impact. This report from the Twin Cities builds on three previous reports in the Benchmarking portfolio, including a November 2013 report Nurturing Inquiry and Innovation, which described the results of continuous improvement efforts with groups of New York City and Chicago providers. By focusing on how organizations can use their data to become more “high-performing”, it complements the Apples to Apples data reports from 2013 and 2016 that identify what high performance looks like for community-based providers with a variety of characteristics.

CSW continues to work with other communities and organizations interested in using data to create an active learning culture vital to program, organization, and system-level improvement and innovation. Building on a workforce development system mapping project in Detroit, CSW has developed a “workforce system data toolkit” to help other regions and cities answer questions about local and regional labor markets, existing and emerging talent pipelines, and the workforce development system in their cities. Stay tuned for its release in mid-June 2017!

Interested in how Benchmarking can help your city? Email us!


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