The existence of complex social, economic, and environmental problems is inescapable. Topics such as unemployment, underemployment, racial disparities, growing skill gaps, and transportation dilemmas are constantly on the list of things needing not only attention, but long-lasting solutions. The complexity of these issues requires dynamic, adaptable, and sustainable solutions. These types of solutions cannot be created by one individual, group, or organization. Like the famous African Proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” it takes a variety of united participants to effectively work to solve these types of social, economic, and environmental issues.
A few years ago, a newer method of addressing these types of issues called collective impact emerged. Developed in part by FSG (Foundation Strategy Group), a leader in reimagining social change, collective impact seeks to bring together organizations, groups, and people across different sectors in order to achieve real progress on serious social and environmental problems. Under collective impact, participants unite across sectors to make progress.
One of the most widely recognized case studies of collective impact is Upskill Houston. This initiative was formed by the Greater Houston Partnership with a goal to better align the supply of middle skills labor to employers’ needs creating a robust workforce pipeline. Survey data showed that 41% of the jobs in that region were middle-skill positions that often remain unfilled due to the growing skills gap. Upskill Houston decided to focus its efforts to attract, train, and place workers within seven industries, including: oil and gas, advanced manufacturing, petrochemical, health care, construction, ports and maritime, and utilities.
Upskill Houston began to utilize a new strategy to close the skills gap known as Talent Pipeline Management (TPM), developed by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Under this demand-driven model that mimics supply chain management, employers become the end-customer and come together as a collaborative to more clearly communicate jobs they need to fill and the skills required to fill the jobs. Since Upskill Houston began, there has been:
- a 32% increase in enrollment for petrochemical courses at community colleges
- a 42% increase in completion of degrees and technical training programs
- over 60 companies engaged in this collective effort to close the skills gap
This collective impact model for social and environmental change has various other case studies showing strong results. Employ Buffalo Niagara, powered by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, is already working within the advanced manufacturing industry with plans to move into healthcare and hospitality. Employ works to utilize the collective impact model, as well as TPM, to fine tune workforce development efforts across various industries in our region. By doing so, we expect to see results similar to Houston’s in our region in three main areas:
- Creating clearer career pathways for the underemployed and unemployed based on employer needs,
- Improving access and transportation systems so people can get to available jobs more easily, and
- Working to realign public and private funding to make closing the skills gap a reality.
For more information, visit Employ Buffalo Niagara’s webpage.