Regional Alignment to Labor Market Demand

Support regional alignment toward in-demand careers. Fostering regional partnerships among education, business, industry, and workforce development providers creates greater coherence and economies of scale in tackling talent development needs.

Recommendation 5

Regional Alignment to Labor Market Demand

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When education institutions and workforce development providers across the same region are able to “row in the same direction,” it is more likely that employers will have access to talent and that students and workers will know which careers to pursue for economic advancement. Creating incentives that encourage regional actors to collaborate with one another also can increase efficiencies by ensuring that programs reinforce and complement each other, rather than duplicate efforts or create gaps.


JFF recommends that states take an active role in fostering regional collaboration. State policies should encourage educational institutions and workforce development organizations to adopt unified messaging about which career fields are most in demand. If partners develop and promote their own separate messages regarding “hot jobs” or other labor market outlooks, students and their families will receive mixed signals while they’re trying to identify career paths. It’s especially important for low-income and first-generation college students to receive clear messages about labor market opportunities because they cannot afford to make any missteps as they choose their education and career pathways. Additionally, states should incubate and support sector-based talent development strategies, through which postsecondary and workforce development providers collaborate in addressing the specialized workforce needs of industries most critical to the health of their regional economies.