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In Workforce Development – regional ecosystems are “good news” in these challenging budgetary times

HARTFORD, APRIL 26, 2016.  “Ecosystem” is defined as a system, or a group of interconnected elements, formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment. A “Regional Ecosystem” is just that – within a specific region.  Any time that partners within a region come together to solve problems, and meet regularly to answer new challenges, a regional ecosystem in is play.

Regional ecosystems are like a chain of links.  Each link plays a key role in holding the work together.  In workforce development – the regional ecosystem, is comprised of strategic partnerships with industry, education, economic development, community organizations, labor and business-led workforce boards – leading programs that are nimble, flexible, adaptable and generating economic opportunity for business and job seekers.” “As ‘conveners,’ workforce development boards are often the ‘clasp’ of the chain, keeping all the links together, moving with changes in time,” says Thomas Phillips, President and CEO or Capital Workforce Partners. “That means workforce development, economic development and education are responding collectively to work together toward sustainable jobs, talent creation and business growth.

In North Central Connecticut, the regional ecosystem is helping business grow, and find the talent they need, and it is affecting the greater welfare of society, even in these extremely challenging times with budget deficits, and economic pressures that abound.

Some collective impact examples of our regional ecosystems that focus on workforce development, using a set of common goals and outcomes:

  1. MoveUp! – a regional ecosystem addressing the challenges relating to adult literacy, with 26 partners working collectively
  2. Opportunity Youth – a regional ecosystem addressing the challenges of reconnecting out-of-work, out-of-school youth to education, training and careers, with over 50 partners and funders working collectively
  3. Best Chance – a regional ecosystem addressing the challenges of returning citizens – finding sustainable employment for former offenders, with 15 partners working collectively
  4. The Hartford Coalition on Education and Talent (soon to be renamed) – a regional ecosystem designed to help more youth complete post-secondary education while closing the gap experienced by employers, with 8+ partners working collectively “Be on the lookout for the work this group is doing – building pathways of success for the youth in our region,” says Paul Holzer, President of Achieve Hartford and spearheading this effort.
  5. The Knowledge Corridor – a region that crosses the Connecticut and Massachusetts border, this area is also a home to a robust regional ecosystem that includes 64,000 businesses, 41 colleges and universities, a labor force of 1.34 million and an international airport.

These are just a few examples.  At the national level, the U. S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), Workforce Development Council is spearheading an effort to help each region have better access to best practices in building strong regional ecosystems, and working toward building more consistent communications and program focus that result in better outcomes nationwide, But that can only be accomplished, region by region – in addressing local area needs.  Andrew McGough – Executive Director of the Portland, Oregon Workforce Development Board and Chair the USCM Workforce Development Committee comments, “Business-led local workforce boards lead the system through strategic partnerships with industry, education, community organizations, and labor, resulting in greater effectiveness and efficiency in serving businesses and job seekers in our communities.”

Here is just a glimpse of the community partners lending critical expertise and coordinated approaches in the regional ecosystem initiatives noted above.

CT By the Numbers Article here: