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ETA RFI Regarding Sector Strategies to Meet Workforce Needs

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration published a request for information (RFI) on current and planned local and regional “sector strategies” and partnership models in “critical industries, including clean energy and energy resilience. The RFI will “provide crucial information on how local and regional areas are considering sector strategies as a response to key workforce needs, particularly in the most critical industries of priority and opportunity – such as those being built out through recent federal investments, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (CHIPS).” 

Sector strategies reflect an employer-driven workforce development approach that directly aligns occupational skills training and other workforce development services with the needs of businesses. Sector strategies target a particular industry or cluster of occupations with high demand for employees or projected growth. Key stakeholders (such as employers, labor unions, workforce and economic development agencies, education and training providers, and employer associations) partner to develop and execute sector strategies, typically under the leadership of an intermediary agency that facilitates communication between the groups. Together, these partners comprehensively assess the human resource needs of regional businesses from the target sector and identify the specific challenges they face in recruiting and retaining a qualified workforce. The partners then design and execute customized, employer-driven solutions to these challenges and ensure that the workforce has the specialized skills necessary to meet identified business needs.

Specifically, the RFI includes a number of questions (listed here in their entirety) that collectively address the following issues: (1) how sectors and sector strategies should be defined; (2) the necessary partnership roles and requirements for effective sector strategies (e.g., the degree of worker/employee representation, through unions, etc., needed to ensure that a sector partnership is developing a strategy that centers and advances equity and worker voice); (3) promising practices for employer engagement and workforce development (e.g., factors that contribute to sector-based strategies being more effective in certain sectors and how sector strategies are targeting industries/occupations); (4) practices that are effective in promoting worker-centered workforce development (e.g., training design, supportive service delivery, workforce decision making processes, and ongoing professional development and career growth opportunities) and whether there are specific industries or sectors where a worker-centered sector strategy has been more effective; (5) the necessary funding resources for sector strategies and whether sector strategies require different levels of funding at different points in the process; (6) the sectors that would most benefit from enhanced federal support and technical assistance; (7) methods to advance equity within sector strategies and effective approaches for soliciting input from marginalized and underrepresented populations; (8) how to best measure the success of sector strategies and specific measurements or milestones that would work best to measure effective partnership development and maturity (i.e., systems change or capacity-building measures/milestones); (9) assessments of local needs and capacity for sector strategies; (10) the use of evidence in decision making about designing a new sector strategy partnership or program or improving an existing program; and (11) the biggest challenges to developing, sustaining, and scaling-up effective sector strategies and key factors influencing the sustainability of a sector strategy and its partnerships (e.g., funding, partner engagement, changing labor market demands).  The ETA notes that it is interested feedback from all stakeholders, including individuals and entities from: (1) “worker/employee” representatives, such as labor unions, labor-management partnerships, worker centers, and organizations that represent or serve workers, particularly workers from communities that have historically been marginalized or underserved; and (2) “workforce development,” such as registered apprenticeship programs.

Comments are due by 5pm on March 24, 2023 and can be submitted by email to

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