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Strategic Plan for the Lancaster County Workforce Investment System
Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board in Lancaster, PA
This Strategic Plan of the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board was compiled from the original Strategic Plan of the Board that ran through June 30, 2004. It has been revised and now runs through June 30, 2009.
Overall, the mission of the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board is to lead an effective and responsive system of programs and services that integrates the needs of employers for an ample and productive workforce with the needs of Lancaster County residents for meaningful work that enhances their quality of life.
As the private-public organization whose mission is to anticipate issues of workforce demand and supply that affect the competitiveness of regional employers and the well-being of the residents of Lancaster County, we see…
- A system that enhances the competitive advantage of key industries in the region in cooperation with its economic development, education, and business partners;
- A workforce that is adequate in numbers and equipped with a work ethic, foundational academic skills, and specific occupational skills that fit the needs of local employers and that rival those of other areas with which we are in competition;
- A diverse incumbent workforce and prospective workforce with equal access to educational resources and a diverse job market where there is equal opportunity for all workers and prospective workers;
- An environment where individuals find success and satisfaction in their careers and in the financial rewards that flow from them;
- A system that is responsive to workforce needs as they emerge with the power and influence to make change happen.
Ultimately, this overall process keeps the Lancaster County economy strong by encouraging established businesses to grow and prospective businesses to consider Lancaster County as a venue for their enterprises.
Goals and Guiding Principles
Our goals flow from our vision of the economy, the workforce, and the community as we see it evolving in the years to come. We realize that there are many general strategies that point toward the goals that we have set for our efforts. These broad and diverse strategies lead to action plans, that is, specific programs, projects, or tasks with specific and measurable outcomes that are regularly evaluated that become the focus of the Board, its staff, and its partners.
1. Build and maintain a workforce that is adequate in numbers and quality to meet the emerging needs of current and prospective Lancaster County businesses.
a. Continue every effort to move persons currently out of or on the margins of the workforce into an appropriate job setting;
b. Arrange for the reentry of dislocated workers back into the workforce as quickly as possible;
c. Facilitate the easy transition of persons in an education or training environment to an appropriate work setting;
d. Encourage the immigration of qualified workers into the County as needed;
e. Promote and support programs that encourage retired workers to reenter the workforce on their terms after retirement;
f. Advocate for the placement of persons with disabilities in employment situations;
g. Promote and support the responsible use of high school students as part-time workers whenever possible.
2. Develop and maintain a workforce that is equipped with a work ethic, foundational academic skills, and specific occupational skills that fit the emerging needs of local employers and that rival those of other areas with which we are in competition.
a. Increase the general literacy level of the Lancaster County workforce;
b. Increase the familiarity of the emerging and incumbent Lancaster County workforce with state-of-the-art technology;
c. Constantly monitor the training needs of Lancaster County business, identifying common needs wherever possible that may lead to cooperative training efforts;
d. Increase the readiness of incumbent and prospective workers to perform the duties required of them by employers;
e. Encourage the planners of educational curricula to increasingly anchor the knowledge and skills they set out to teach to real-life venues that include the workplace.
3. Assure equal access of all Lancaster County residents to education and employment.
a. Network with other community systems in findings ways to overcome barriers that affect access to education and employment, particularly in transportation and child care;
b. Promote and maintain an intensive network of education and employment services to address the special educational and employment needs of persons on the margins of the mainstream workforce (dropouts, persons reentering the workforce after long absences, persons where English is a second language, persons entering the workforce after incarceration);
c. Actively address prejudice as a barrier to education and employment wherever it exists.
4. Assist all Lancaster County residents in finding success and satisfaction in their careers.
a. Initiate and sustain an on-going flow of information about career and educational opportunities in Lancaster County to students, workers, educators, parents, service providers and the public;
b. Actively advocate for and promote a variety of options for career success that do not necessarily require a four-year college degree;
c. Graduate high school students from Lancaster County schools with above average academic skills and high career maturity;
d. Encourage wherever possible the development of high-quality, low-cost continuing education opportunities for adults.
5. Develop and maintain an effective and efficient workforce system that uses the power and influence of the Board to attract partners, build alliances and coordinate resources.
a. Cultivate a single vision and voice for the workforce development system in Lancaster County as it represents itself to the public and to policymakers;
b. Constantly look for ways to develop a common vision for workforce-related goals with economic development, welfare, education, and other community systems;
c. Develop and use an ongoing public relations program to communicate the vision, goals, and programs of the Board to the public at large, public policymakers;
d. Advocate for change in federal and state legislation to allow more flexibility in workforce development initiatives at the local level;
e. Develop and maintain an on-going process of data collection that attempts to identify current needs and emerging trends on the demand and supply side of the workforce picture;
f. Develop and maintain an evaluation system that holds the Board, its staff, and its partners and, to a lesser degree, partners from other, related systems accountable for their roles in reaching system-wide goals;
g. Develop and maintain an on-going process of strategic planning with a ten year planning horizon that is updated every two years;
h. Develop and empower a staff through a chief executive officer to work toward Board-identified goals within operating constraints also developed and monitored by the WIB.
I. Build and nurture a common vision and purpose between workforce and economic development entities in the community.
A. Pursue an industry cluster or sector strategy for workforce and economic development where health care, biotechnology, communications, metal and metal fabricating, automotive, food processing, and construction become priorities for workforce and economic development because they have the most potential for developing “gold-collar” jobs that raise the level of the occupational mix in the community.
1. Whenever possible, facilitate pre-employment and incumbent worker training through industry consortia that promote companies working together to meet shared training needs.
2. Wherever needed, support the workforce needs of other industry clusters that may not be on the priority list.
3. Support continued community audit research centered on the industry cluster concept to identify other areas in the industry array that may have the potential for the significant development of “gold collar” jobs.
B. Build and maintain a position as the organization in the community that is the primary advocate for developing an innovation system that includes incumbent workers training, the maintenance of a pipeline from school to work, local research and development, the support of technology transfer activities, and the growth of entrepreneurship to support the competitive advantage of key industries in the local economy.
C. Consistently work throughout the planning period to develop the notion among local policy makers that economic development should always be linked to the development of better jobs for the people of Lancaster County.
D. Pursue regional workforce development cooperation on the basis of industry clusters rather than geography.
II. Encourage coordination and cooperation between the workforce development system; other related community systems, including but not limited to the welfare system, secondary and post-secondary education, adult basic education, economic development, aging, faith-based organizations, and others, and the business community.
A. Assure that the CareeLink system is easily accessible to citizen and business customer alike.
B. Align the service delivery system in the CareerLink and elsewhere to support the priorities in this Plan, using interagency teams wherever possible.
C. Develop and maintain formal, structural linkages between the Board and the Lancaster Chamber, the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, Lancaster Prospers, the Lancaster County Association of Human Resource Professionals, and the Central PA Technology Council that may or may not include membership on the Board.
D. Deploy and support a process that supports linkages with employers and the Board and CareerLink that engages resources from a broad base of community partners.
E. Explore the involvement of other organizations as actors or possible actors in the workforce system.
F. Make the Workforce Investment Board the preferred source for labor market, occupational, and career ladder information in the County for the public and private sector.
III. Improve the current workforce development delivery system so that a significant additional number of persons from racial and ethnic minorities, particularly in the southeast part of Lancaster city, are brought into the workforce.
A. Involve community organizations based in the southeast area more extensively in the work of the CareerLink, particularly in job recruitment, retention and advancement activities.
B. Become a voice in the community that encourages diversity in employment and increased access of marginalized people to the workforce.
C. Prepare employers and employees to work with and in a diverse workforce by increasing cultural competence among all parties.
D. Facilitate a planning process that uses research and community input to consider ways to reduce unemployment and underemployment in the Latino community.
E. Research, develop, and implement a strategy and service delivery system that addresses the needs of the older worker, particularly the newly-retired Baby Boom worker.
IV. Enhance the ability of the workforce development and lifelong learning systems to service the underemployed worker.
A. Promote the usage of a Career Readiness Credential as the culmination of a program that promotes work readiness through the PA CareerLink of Lancaster County with the support of the business community.
B. Wherever possible, find ways to move people into the multiple entry points of career ladders that lead to gold collar jobs in priority industries, focusing on entry-level and beyond.
C. Participate in existing or convene community task forces to examine the issues of the high school dropout problem, child and elder care, transportation, and housing and their impact on workers in conjunction with the agencies in the community who are the primary point of contact for those issues.
D. Align the CareerLink service delivery system immediately to more directly address the issues involved in underemployment, including but not limited to:
1. Child and elder care;
3. Past criminal record and/or incarceration;
4. Job advancement, career ladders, and career counseling;
5. Sector and occupational skill priorities;
7. Integration with the lifelong learning system.
E. Encourage through regular contacts with education providers the development of a more worker-friendly lifelong learning system, particularly in regard to more flexibility in skill training and academic coursework.
1. Wherever possible, work with education providers to introduce new models that are incumbent worker friendly.
2. Encourage the development of curriculum that can be used in education that occurs in institutions and in education that occurs in companies.
F. Assure that a coordinated and rational system exists to deal with the workforce needs of individuals for labor exchange and training services that result from job churning.
V. Provide the emerging workforce with adequate career guidance that leads to a successful school-to-work transition.
A. Continually expand the breadth and depth of programming with the K-12 system by adding all school districts, by reaching into the elementary grades, by reaching out to parents, and by involving all school personnel in programming.
B. Annually, brief every school superintendent in the County on the work and priorities of the Board.
C. Assure that all skill and career path materials developed in the sector strategy outlined above have a well-defined linkage with regard to skill development that reaches back into school curricula and that those connections are regularly discussed with curriculum planners, school guidance counselors, and parents.
D. Make the Youth Council the preferred source for career resources and labor market information dissemination for young people in the County.
E. Be a strong voice in the County advocating programs that would reduce the dropout rate within the area.
There will be a variety of key variables that will allow the Board to gauge the overall performance of the workforce system. They include…
- A continually growing workforce,
- A lower unemployment rate,
- An increased number of people entering targeted occupational categories (gold collar jobs),
- More students enrolling in education and training programs that expand and complement the traditional four year college option,
- A lower dropout rate among high school graduates who do participate in post-secondary education of all kinds,
- Less remedial training needed on the job for high school graduates,
- Lower dropout rate among high school students,
- More people participating in continuing education activities,
- Higher literacy rate among the County population, and
- A lower number of people on public assistance of all kinds.