California’s Workforce Development System
The statewide workforce development system is comprised of 49 Local Workforce Development Areas (Local Area), each with its own business-led Local Workforce Development Board (Local Board). These Local Boards work in concert with their local Chief Elected Official oversee the delivery of workforce services relevant to their local residents and businesses. Critical to their charge is their oversight of the local One-Stop Career Centers which are the hub of the statewide service delivery vehicle for workforce/education/business services. Workforce funds allocated to Local Boards support the job training, placement, and business services delivered though the One-Stop Career Centers. These Centers, through partnerships with other local, state and federal agencies, education and economic development organizations provide access to job, skill development and business services vital to the social and economic well-being of their communities.
Each Local Workforce Development Board (LWDB) has its own charter, organization, and unique context. What they all share, however, is a set of central roles. Each LWDB provides oversight for the Workforce Investment Act program, acts as a catalyst to provide seamless services among various workforce programs, and provides community leadership around workforce issues.
As community leader, there are five ways that LWDBs can carry out their role, which are the focus of this toolkit. The list is intended to be descriptive, rather than prescriptive - each LWDB in California will find that it incorporates most of these roles in varying degrees in all aspects of their work.
- CONVENER - Bringing together business, labor, education, and economic development to focus on community workforce issues
- WORKFORCE ANALYST - Developing, disseminating and understanding current labor market and economic information and trends
- BROKER - Bring together systems to solve common problems, or broker new relationships with businesses and workers
- COMMUNITY VOICE - Advocating for the importance of workforce policy, providing perspective about the need for skilled workers
- CAPACITY BUILDER - Enhancing the region's ability to meet the workforce needs of local employers
The LWDB as Convener
LWDBs bring together business leaders to respond to local workforce needs with an understanding and focus only possible at the regional level.
- LWDBs are an important nexus of communication, facilitating dialogue about workforce issues among employers, policymakers, labor, education, economic development and the public.
- Regional economies have complex sets of workforce issues that span across business, community organizations, government, organized labor and residents. Workforce issues are about skilled workers, but they are also about the changing workplace, access to jobs for all populations, transportation and housing, and support for workers such as health care and childcare.
- As intermediary organizations with participation from business, labor, non-profits, government, and educational institutions, LWDBs can ensure that all of the right people are in the room for critical discussions about the region's economy and workforce needs.
- LWDBs bring together business leaders to respond to local workforce needs with an understanding and focus only possible at the regional level. Convening businesses within key industry sectors to better understand the needs of the industry provides valuable information for organizations providing education and job readiness services. LWDBs also convene around specific issues of critical importance to the community, such as low wage workers, the aging workforce, or school dropout rates.
The LWDB as Workforce Analyst
Information about jobs and career pathways, described in accessible ways, is a critical function of the LWDB.
- LWDBs play a key role in collecting and analyzing labor market data for their region. This entails not only finding and using statistical data to paint a picture of the local economy, but turning that data into useful information for educators, policy makers and the business community. Often, statistical information is several years old, so the LWDB also takes a proactive role in using its convening role to bring together employers through focus groups and other mechanisms to understand the current and future skill requirements and hiring needs of key industries. Understanding and disseminating information about trends in employment can be valuable to One-Stop Career Centers, community colleges, and schools.
- Mapping the gaps between the needs of the economy and the current delivery system is also a key function of the LWDB. Many LWDBs initiate asset mapping in their communities, to provide information about the services that are available. They also scan their region to learn about the potential mismatches between the skills required and the current workforce, or the education and training needed by residents and the actual offerings.
- Information about jobs and career pathways, described in accessible ways for students and job seekers is also a critical function of the LWDB. Often, employers can't see the career pathways within their industry, and the LWDB works with tools to map occupations and skill requirements in ways that can be used by both people who want to enter a field, and incumbent workers who want to progress in their careers.
The LWDB as Broker
It is not always enough to get everyone in the same room.
- LWDBs play an important role in bringing people and groups together, providing them with access to the information that they need to make informed decisions, and brokering agreements between employers, government agencies, and various programs. A LWDB functioning as an intermediary provides a mechanism to connect organizations, institutions, businesses and people to each other and to the services and information they need.
- LWDBs have served an important role in bringing together the business community in a particular industry sector and educational agencies to help "translate" from one system to the other, and to help develop services that meet the needs of business. In other places, LWDBs have brokered training programs and services between employers and training providers.
The LWDB as Community Voice
LWDBs are an important nexus of communication, facilitating dialogue between employers, policymakers, and the public.
- An important function underlying these roles is that of communication. LWDBs serve as a community voice in a number of ways. By using the information gathered as a result of convening employers, LWDBs can help regions articulate their needs to policymakers at all levels of government. LWDBs can use information gathered as part of their workforce intelligence activities to communicate key skill shortages, skill gaps, and the need for labor and/or job opportunities.
- LWDBs also serve as the voice of the community, by articulating the needs of individuals looking for training and jobs. Returning Veterans, people being released from the correctional system, individuals with disabilities may have special needs or more intensive services.
- With its diverse membership, the LWDB is uniquely positioned to tell the whole story - not from the point of view of business, government, labor or community group - but from the whole. This voice can provide powerful messages to the Legislature, the Administration and other policy leaders.
The LWDB as Capacity Builder
For many programs, success is measured by the dozen, when actual demand is in the hundreds or thousands.
- As a capacity builder, the LWDB has a responsibility to scan the performance and effectiveness of One-Stop Career Centers, training programs and other community resources, and ensure that services are high quality. The LWDB can provide critical guidance to agencies in the form of technical assistance, well articulated goals and performance measures, and insistence on excellence. Using their role as convener, the LWDB can bring together service providers and educators to inform them of current and future workforce needs, and to learn about best practices on the ground, and facilitate dialogue about the most effective way to serve businesses and job seekers.
- CA Community Colleges Econ & Workforce Development
- California Labor and Workforce Development Agency
- Employment Development Department
- California Department of Industrial Relations
- California Department of Education
- State Personnel Board
- EDD/Labor Market Information Division
- EDD Policy & Guidance
- California Employment Training Panel
- Workforce Investment Works
- California Department of Rehabilitation