Network Research: How Cities Can Help Lead in Workforce Development and Public Education

City governments have a vested interest in a strong local economy. Economic conditions dictate whether cities are attractive for residents and businesses and, in turn, drive the local tax base. A healthy local economy requires a well-educated and skilled workforce. 

Most city governments, however, have little direct responsibility for the administration of workforce development programs or their public school systems. As a result, there is rarely coordination between economic development programs, workforce development efforts, and K-12 or higher education. Instead, most city governments focus their economic development efforts toward business recruitment, financing new projects, or helping existing firms expand.

Since 2013, the National Resource Network has worked with over 50 cities in 22 states to support their efforts to increase economic competitiveness. In many of these cities, the Network teams have seen first hand how difficult – and urgent – it is for cities to address the challenges of workforce development, education, and equity.

In May 2017, NRN convened representatives from five cities (Baltimore, MD; Passaic, NJ; Salinas, CA; Waco, TX; and Winston-Salem, NC) to discuss their experiences leading efforts to link economic development to workforce development and education. Based on their insights and our work with these cities and others, we have identified common challenges, strategies, and “promising practices” that city governments can implement to support a well-educated and skilled workforce necessary for business attraction, retention, and expansion.

We are excited to share final product of this research: Growing Wages & Jobs: How City Government Can Help Lead in Workforce Development and Public Education by Debra Vaughan.  Deb, a Senior Managing Consultant at PFM -- one of the consortium members – led Network efforts on workforce development in Passaic and Lake Charles and was a critical member of our team in Waco.