Although coordinating existing public and private funding will help make progress towards growing the workforce intermediary approach, coordination alone is not enough. There is a need for more resources to help intermediary organizations meet the pressing demands of businesses, especially small businesses and workers. Even the most exemplary organizations, which juggle multiple funding streams and provide high performing services to businesses and workers, face a daily struggle to finance their work. Because of limited resources, public agencies also face impossible choices between supporting required core activities, and intermediary approaches like strategic planning and employer engagement that would strengthen their work and the critical need for training.
Federal, state, business, and philanthropic dollars all need to be expanded, and new types of financing mechanisms should be developed. Specifically, this Assembly recommends the following financing improvements:
- Expand and target federal, state, business, and philanthropic resources for necessary intermediary functions, such as labor market information, research and development, convening of stakeholders, and business services. New resources should be identified to support investments in intermediary functions -- including business services -- that will lead to better outcomes in the broad range of existing workforce funding streams. This includes ensuring that the WIA and TANF are flexible funding streams that allow local actors to design programs that meet local needs. Policy makers should support a proposal to provide new resources for Business Linkage Grants and other employer services in TANF.
- Develop ways to create long-term capital flows by leveraging relevant employer investments, such as contributions to Taft-Hartley funds and/or tuition reimbursement; existing tax credits; social venture funds and other financial innovations. The relevance and applicability for workforce development of a tax credit strategy, such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit model, should be studied. Financing is an important topic for foundations, and their support of Living Cities, formerly National Community Development, is a model that could be adapted.
- Connect permanent sources of public financing, such as infrastructure spending, to workforce development. For example, in several communities, port authorities provide stable investment in workforce development and career advancement tied to their infrastructure spending. Likewise, bond financing for the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia has generated a resource that supported training in the hospitality industry.
- Implement major comprehensive federal, state, and private sector demonstrations of the workforce intermediaries approach. This Assembly endorses recent efforts by the Department of Labor to create Regional Skills Alliances, help workforce boards and other workforce intermediaries begin industry-specific workforce development projects, assist health care employers address worker shortages, and expand the role of employer associations in providing intermediary services through the Workforce Innovation Networks (WINs) project. These types of demonstrations should be continued and expanded, and include partners from the philanthropic community, as WINs has since its inception.
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