Does it really matter to you how well your neighboring county's students are doing? It better. As major employers think about locating or relocating they are not looking at city or county lines but the workforce draw in the area. This is why we are finding more regional workforce initiatives being established--some effective and some not so much. I was particularly intrigued with how the Chesapeake region of Maryland defined its workforce area: Science and Security Corridor. They promote the number of scientists in the area.
There are 650 Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) around the country. As I understand the mission of the WIBs it is to connect the dots on workforce preparation and development. One thing they do is position the region to be ready when new technologies or industries emerge such as plastics and medical devices. Louisiana is on the cusp of establishing WIBs there. I am attracted more to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) workforce intermediary idea. This seems to be a more strategic way of coordinating and anticipating opportunities.
I am investigating now how much and how often the local WIBs coordinate their work with the school system and the local Chambers of Commerce and the effectiveness of their efforts. As we prepare our communities to coordinate efforts and perhaps invest in each other (yes you read right) then who is guiding those efforts so everybody wins? Is it the WIBs or do we need a different kind of regional entity that is looking at workforce, education, and quality of life issues at the same time? My experience has been that you are lucky if the Chamber is focusing on two out of three but rarely all three with the same emphasis. I hope to hear form some of you about what is working (or not) in your region.