FEBRUARY 7, 2014

CSW is a national expert in industry sector strategies with a primary focus on meeting the needs of the industry partners as an economic competitiveness strategy. Several other national consulting firms promote sector strategies, but their primary focus is on advancing low-wage workers, rather than growing economies.

Unemployment rates hover around 9%. Companies are closing their doors. States struggle to cope with budget shortfalls. As workforce development professionals, we must make every shrinking dollar go further. In our work across the nation, one of the most promising and successful strategies we have seen is building industry sector partnerships.

Industry sector partnerships is a regional collaboration of employers, education and training programs, economic development, community based organizations and other stakeholders that come together to address the workforce needs of a critical industry in their region. By joining forces to create industry partnerships, a state and specific regions within it can each play a role in helping key industries to grow and create improved job and career opportunities for workers. It is a win-win scenario.

Every region has education and training programs in operation: one-stop centers, adult education programs, community colleges, career and technical programs, and more. Every region also supports an array of business service programs, like Chambers of Commerce, business service units in local workforce organizations, and employer outreach divisions in community colleges. Getting these entities to work together is a challenge, and this is where sector partnerships can help.

In industry sector partnerships, a dedicated convener works to engage the necessary stakeholders in a region, including employers, and coordinate across the various business services, education, training, and support programs. Working together, these partners design and provide a solution to employers’ and workers’ needs.

Industry sector partnerships make otherwise limited resources go further, and because they directly engage groups of employers in one industry, they can accurately assess and address skills needs.

CSW has provided technical assistance to emerging sector partnerships across the country, encompassing assistance with start-up, sector identification, employer engagement, program planning, and beyond. Our strength lies in our strong combination of deep sector and community college knowledge, facilitation skills, and technical expertise.

In addition to our work with states, CSW has helped regional stakeholders set up sector partnerships. CSW has designed, implemented and been the lead trainer at Sector Academies in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.

We’ve also worked with several community and technical college systems (Kansas and Missouri, for example) to develop comprehensive plans for improving their responsiveness to business and industry and improving the state’s economic competitiveness.

To get help with starting Sector Partnerships in your region or community, contact Taryn MacFarlane  at

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedIn