Why Industry-Led Problem Solving is Essential
When an HRTP sets out to lead efforts to jointly solve problems facing its industry, it can affect far more than training programs per se: It can affect their whole industry’s ability to compete and provide high-quality jobs and career paths. Starting with the jobs—the demand side of what is needed in their particular industry—is foundational. Understanding the actual jobs and skills that are needed is key: all other programmatic decisions follow naturally from this. Once the demand for actual jobs is known, it forms the basis for determining:
- The skills and work experiences needed for those jobs.
- What kinds of training already exists and what needs to be created for workers to acquire those particular skills and experiences.
- The best methods to deliver that training to those workers that addresses real-world content, context, and learners.
- The critical supports workers may need not only to get the jobs but also to succeed—and be able to advance—once they have them.
- Ways for workers to continually refresh their skills and problem-solving abilities so they are prepared for challenges in the future for that industry.
Responding to demand fundamentally changes training; it goes from something that’s done because it has the potential to increase participants’ chances of getting a job to something that is designed explicitly to help participants get and keep identified and available jobs. This explicit focus on the jobs and particular skills needed in the industry helps not only the workers who secure good jobs but also the employers who can count on getting what they need to succeed in a competitive and changing environment.
When industry leaders, in both management and labor, drive the problem solving, they can bring the specific information they have to the table, and include operational considerations from the start. They can also be candid about the threats and challenges they may be facing in their competitive environment.
Industry leaders can then reach out for other information—be it quantitative data, market analysis, or potential policy changes—to augment their knowledge and understanding. Such industry analysis can be an ongoing process, rather than a one-off or periodic report, utilizing a wide range of strategies to gain continuous understanding of demand.
With this proactive approach, employers and their worker representatives will be invested in seeing the training programs succeed because they understand how the trainings are designed to meet the needs they themselves identified. The incentive to participate is layered in the process from the beginning.
Further, because these are industry partnerships, HRTPs also seek to bring their efforts to scale and set industry standards. Striving for scale lifts more of the industry on to the high road path and setting the standards for how they achieve results ensures that training and education programs are most effective.