Aspen Publication Takes Fresh Look at “Sectoral” Workforce Approaches

October 22, 2007  • Institute Contributor

Aspen Publication Takes Fresh Look at “Sectoral” Workforce Approaches

Washington, DC, October 22, 2007 – If America is to compete effectively in the global economy, a highly skilled, broadly inclusive workforce is required. Helping to meet that need are hundreds of programs across the country that are using a specialized approach to workforce development, known as “sectoral” strategies.

Sectoral Strategies for Low-Income Workers: Lessons from the Field, a new publication from the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Strategies Initiative, brings to light some of the unique features of the sector strategy, how this approach can strengthen regional economies and business competitiveness, and how interest in the sector strategy has grown over time.

One of the hallmarks of sector initiatives is that they become well-grounded in the issues and concerns of specific industries in their region before crafting workforce solutions tailored to meet them. In addition, they try to help trainees get the practical supports they need to be successful both in training and on the job, such as transportation, child care and language proficiency.

The publication is rich with case studies of projects operating in such diverse communities as The Bronx, Charlotte, Chicago, Austin, Las Vegas and Seattle. Such projects are operated by community- and faith-based organizations, business and industry groups, community and technical colleges, Workforce Investment Boards, worker advocacy groups, labor-management partnerships, various nonprofits and others.

Although in the past, these initiatives relied largely on philanthropic support, today they are supported by federal, state and local governments. States at the forefront of the movement include: Washington, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Michigan, Arkansas and Illinois.

More information about the concept and its implementation are available on AspenWSI’s Web site: To download the publication, see: In addition, in-depth program profiles can be read on-line at:

For more than a decade, AspenWSI has been engaging in research focused on sectoral initiatives, particularly those aimed at improving the employment situation of low-income workers.
AspenWSI is housed at the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute, which was founded in 1950 and today is an international nonprofit dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values. The Institute is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its international network includes partner Aspen Institutes in Berlin, Rome, Lyon, Tokyo, New Delhi and Bucharest, and leadership programs in Africa, Central America and India.

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