Examines a regional collaboration initiative among local workforce investment boards and workforce intermediaries and reports interim evaluation findings.

Full publication title: Evaluation of Regional Collaborations for Economic Development: Lessons from the Employment and Training Administration’s WIRED Initiative

The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, “sought to expand employment and advancement opportunities for American workers and catalyze the creation of high-skill and high-wage opportunities” (p.1). WIRED awarded grants to 13 different regions in a series of three rounds, with new awardees in each round. “The purpose of this article is to summarize key findings to date from these evaluations. It proceeds first by presenting the notion of a regional collaborative and comparing and contrasting that type of entity to a local workforce board and a workforce intermediary. The article then reviews some of the findings from the evaluators’ interim reports and draws some conclusions about the extent to which WIRED has resulted in or contributed to a transformation of the workforce system” (p.1).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

Interim findings from the evaluation of WIRED initiatives are listed below: • Economic development entities were the most prevalent type of organization administering the WIRED initiatives in the first round of the initiative, which indicates that single steering committees were the primary governance structure. In subsequent rounds, the evaluators acknowledged that regions created formal governance structures and that the leadership of each region in these rounds was composed of three rings instead of a single steering committee (p.2). • The pre-WIRED economic, political, and cultural contexts of the regions shaped each region’s initiatives and pace of implementation, at least in rounds two and three of the initiative (p.2). • “Many of the regions had preexisting collaborative partnerships but had been missing stakeholders from the economic or talent development systems” (p.2). • There were no significant differences identified between governance structures or activities among the regions in round two and round three (p.3). • “As regions progressed into the operational phase, there was a natural shift in emphasis from planning and development to worker training and other education-related activities” (p.3). • “All of the regions had representation in their partnerships from all stakeholder groups. However, more partners came from the educational sector than any other organization type” (p.3). • “The interim reports of the WIRED evaluations paint a picture of engaged and effective regional partnerships that are facilitating training (including entrepreneurial activities) and educational pipeline investment, especially in STEM areas” (p.3). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)