Sector Partnership Evaluation Provides Recommendations for Strengthening Colorado’s Sector Strategy

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Dec. 2, 2022 - Nationally, sector strategies are gaining attention as one time federal investments seek to mobilize public and private partnerships to address the dynamics of an uncertain and rapidly changing economy. Colorado has been intentional about investing in industry-driven approaches to grow Colorado’s economy since the first sector partnership launched in the state in 2005. 

Sector strategies are actions, policies, and strategies that enable support partners to directly respond to industry-driven priorities. Sector partnerships are the organizing vehicle to ensure sector strategies are effective, and consist of business leaders from the same industry and in a shared labor market region who work with education, workforce development, economic development, and community organizations to address competitiveness needs. Sector partnerships are proven to be critically important for a strong talent development system through precise, practical alignment of workforce development resources with the needs of business and industry.

In fall of 2021, the Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC) Sector Steering Committee requested an external evaluation of Colorado’s sector strategy to ensure effectiveness as Colorado works proactively towards economic recovery and improving outcomes for employers, learners, and workers now and into the future. WildFIG Partners, a public policy consulting firm, was selected to conduct the evaluation, which was completed in fall of 2022. The comprehensive findings and recommendations can be viewed in the Final Evaluation Report

The report outlines 29 recommendations to strengthen the sector partnership efforts in the state. In response to these recommendations the CWDC Office crafted a sector partnership refresh plan and is working to move forward to advance the following five priorities.

Revitalize and Grow the Sector Partnership Network
Sector partnerships offer a strong approach for coordinating and aligning efforts across industry, education, workforce, and economic development. This priority invests in refreshing the shared vision across state agencies to strengthen support for sector partnerships and investing in training for conveners to help revitalize dormant sector partnerships and launch new ones. 

Increase Awareness and Impact of Sector Partnerships
This priority invests in an updated approach to data collection and storytelling to better communicate the impact of sector partnerships. This includes the launch of a sector partnership roadshow that allows for individuals across the state to join sector partnerships in regional gatherings that spotlight the needs of local industry and invite discussion on innovative approaches to addressing those needs. 

Strengthen Support Infrastructure
State agencies play an important role in enabling robust and thriving sector partnerships. To maximize the CWDC’s support infrastructure, the evaluation recommended dedicating additional personnel to support sector partnerships, refresh the community of practice experience, and launch an orientation for the Sectors Steering Committee to ensure the CWDC is well equipped to champion sector partnerships and help them to adapt to a dynamic economic environment.  

Catalyze and Sustain Rural Engagement
Many sector partnerships that went dormant since the onset of Covid-19 were in rural communities, and the evaluation also identified a number of challenges rural communities face in sustaining sector partnerships. To maximize support and industry engagement in rural communities, this priority authorizes the CWDC to conduct a rural needs assessment and adjusts the CWDC’s sector approaches to ensure responsiveness to the needs of communities in urban and rural areas of Colorado. 

Ground Model in Equity and Job Quality
In 2020, the CWDC adopted the values of equity, agility, and integration to guide how the talent development ecosystem in Colorado works together. These values are being integrated into all of the CWDC’s work and help to focus efforts on ensuring that all Coloradans have the opportunity to benefit from a strong and thriving economy. 

With these priorities in mind, and with the support of partners across Colorado, the CWDC looks forward to pursuing these next next steps to strengthen sector partnerships and industry engagement in Colorado.

To learn more about Colorado’s sector strategy please visit the CWDC website or contact to get involved.