Why a Sector Initiative?

What is a Sector Initiative?

Sector initiatives respond to a need for more innovative approaches to skills-based economic development. They rely on local partnerships that are led by employers and include workforce development, economic development, education, and other stakeholders to identify and address the highest priority workforce challenges of the industry. These partnerships are each unique depending on the region and the industry of focus, but they share certain characteristics that define them as sector initiatives. Characteristics of sector initiatives include: 

  • They focus intensively on a specific industry over a sustained time period, customizing solutions for multiple employers in a region.
  • They strengthen economic growth and industry competitiveness, and benefit individual workers by creating new pathways into the industry, by sustaining/increasing good jobs and careers;
  • They are led by a strategic partner, or intermediary, with deep industry knowledge; and
  • They promote systemic change that achieves benefits for the industry, workers, and the community. 
Benefits to Employers:
A third party evaluation of sector initiatives in the State of Massachusetts showed a 41% reduction in turnover; 19% reduction in rework; 23% reduction in customer complaints; and 100% of companies reported that partnerships with other companies were valuable.

Why choose a sector approach?

Sector strategies make it possible for a region to focus on the needs of key regional industries. They bring together economic development, workforce development and education, advancing the way you think and act on: 

  • Economic development issues such as global competition, outsourcing, critical skills shortages, and linking economic and education strategies. Sector strategies foster innovation and competitive advantage in global markets through focused attention on key industries and development of extensive knowledge about their needs.
  • Advancement of workers and sustaining middle-class jobs in the current context where knowledge and skill levels across industries and in multiple occupations often do not meet industry needs. Sector strategies can help create new jobs and new opportunities for individual workers by helping to promote education and training programs, develop career ladders, and ensure the workforce is appropriately skilled to help employers grow and prosper.
  • Leveraging and aligning both resources and strategies to strengthen agility, flexibility and responsiveness for the benefit of industries and their workers. Sector strategies can bring coherence to the public response by making it possible to work across individually funded programs and focus priorities in the same strategic direction. 

For more information on the strengths of a sector approach, you can watch this video on how sector strategies promote regional economic competitiveness.

For a clearer picture of what a sector initiative looks like, see check out the many case studies later in this chapter, or this video of a panel discussion of sector practitioners.