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Pennsylvania's Industry Partnerships
Industry partnerships (IPs) are a key institutional innovation for meeting the skills needs of businesses, the career goals of workers, and the economic development goals of the Commonwealth.
Industry partnerships are a particular kind of "workforce intermediary," a so-called dual customer institution that helps connect and meet the needs of both workers and businesses. Industry partnerships bring together multiple employers, and workers or worker representatives when appropriate, in the same industry cluster to address common or overlapping human capital needs.
Effective industry partnerships can accomplish the following:
  • Develop a deep, thorough and forward-looking understanding of the human capital needs and critical challenges of the industry cluster through the regular interaction of partnership members, trade associations, and industry experts
  • Identify the training needs of businesses, including skill gaps critical to competitiveness and innovation;
  • Facilitate companies to come together to aggregate training and education needs and achieve economies of scale;
  • Help educational and training institutions align curriculum and programs to industry demand, particularly for higher skill occupations;
  • Inform and collaborate with PA CareerLinks, youth councils, business-education partnerships, parents and career counselors and facilitate bringing employers together to address the challenges of connecting youth to careers;
  • Help companies identify and work together to address common organizational and human resource challenges – recruiting new workers, retaining incumbent workers, implementing high-performance work organization, adopting new technologies and fostering experiential on-the-job learning;
  • Identification of barriers to entry level employment for workers and youth and strategies to remediate those barriers;
  • Develop new career lattices within and across companies, enabling entry-level workers to improve skills to advance into higher skill, higher wage jobs;
  • Develop new industry credentials that give companies confidence in the skills of new hires and workers more mobility and earning potential across firms; and
  • Establish communication networks between firms, managers, and workers to promote innovation, potential economies of scale in purchasing and other economic activities, and dissemination of best practices.
The intended goal of the industry partnership program is to encourage highly strategic partnership initiatives that develop cost-effective and financially sustainable means of producing quantitative outcomes by meeting the needs of an industry cluster and its regional workforce. The IP program has the ability to spur job advancement, growth, and creation by prioritizing funds to occupational areas of critical need. While the importance of continuing education within the workplace cannot be understated and is certainly critical to business development and growth, the IP program must begin to shift from focusing primarily on workplace retention to become more proactive in job creation, career advancement, and movement into and up a career ladder.
Competitive industry partnership grant proposals are reviewed yearly with funding allocations made for each project based on the state budget. Partnerships are awarded within Pennsylvania's four targeted industry clusters:
  1. Advanced Materials and Diversified Manufacturing
  2. Agriculture and Food Processing
  3. Energy (includes Marcellus Shale, Mining, and Utilities)
  4. Healthcare
For more information about the industry partnership program please contact the PA WIB Office at 717-772-4966.
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