September is National Workforce Development Month and the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) is excited to share how our diversity and inclusion work is a key component of our most significant workforce development projects – boosting both the economic and community impact of our ForwardCLE strategic plan.
In December 2018, GCP and MAGNET were named as the co-intermediaries of the Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership – a dynamic collaboration of regionally connected employers within the same industry who collaborate to address their shared workforce and talent needs. Since the beginning, GCP and MAGNET were intentional about making diversity and inclusion a priority in all aspects of this important effort.
First and foremost, staff resources from GCP's Commission on Economic Inclusion were embedded in the planning and execution of the intermediary functions. The team prioritized the value of intentionally recruiting minority and women-owned manufacturing firms to the employer leadership team of the sector partnership. While the low number of MBE and WBE in the manufacturing sector presented a challenge, the team of 14 industry executives tasked with setting the key strategies of this work currently includes two African American manufacturing company owners. As the sector partnership work grows, the intermediary team will continue outreach and recruitment efforts to grow the number of diverse voices on the leadership team.
Throughout the facilitated learning and strategy development process, the manufacturing leadership team identified three distinct focus areas for the sector partnership:
- Driving 100 percent utilization of existing manufacturing training programs
- Developing innovative on-ramps to access manufacturing careers
- Speaking with one voice to influence public policy in support of the manufacturing workforce
Recognizing that the industry has tremendous opportunities to significantly grow the manufacturing workforce among historically underrepresented populations, the employers leading this sector partnership prioritized diversity and inclusion as a key component of all three of these strategic priorities. While volunteer action teams made up of manufacturing leaders and workforce development providers are still early in the process of developing project plans for these priority strategies, the team has already agreed to focus its work on recruiting African Americans, women and ex-offenders into manufacturing careers through innovative and intentional on-ramps that lead to high-wage careers.
To further add to the sector partnership’s priority focus on recruiting diverse populations into manufacturing, Cleveland was selected as one of only five communities across the nation to participate in the newly formed Inclusive Development Network. Launched in early 2019 by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and backed by grants from ECMC Foundation and JP Morgan Chase & Co., the Inclusive Development Network will work to identify and implement strategies that reduce equity gaps in local workforce development. In joining this work, GCP saw an opportunity to leverage the national thought leadership and resources of the Inclusive Development Network to advance inclusivity and build outreach to underserved populations through our work with the Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership.
To learn more and join us in this important work, please visit manufacturingsectorpartnership.org.