Industries take the lead in future workforce development priorities

Industries take the lead in future workforce development priorities

CHEYENNE, Wyo. –  With 12 partnerships launched in nine regions, Wyoming has had a faster ramp-up of Next Generation Sector Partnerships than any other state.

The Wyoming Workforce Development Council adopted this business-centered approach, called Next Gen, in May 2018 as a way to help growing industries struggling to meet workforce demand and other needs. This approach is modeled after similar partnerships across the country. Since 2011, more than a dozen states have launched 80 Next Gen Partnerships nationwide.

“A cornerstone of Wyoming’s future is our ability to work collaboratively with the private sector to grow our state’s workforce,” Governor Mark Gordon said. “Crucial to that effort is involving our communities in helping to identify gaps and priorities for each region.”

In May 2018, Wyoming business leaders divided the state into regions, each one choosing one to two industries on which to focus their efforts. Industry partnerships have launched in manufacturing, healthcare, finance and insurance, construction trades, and hospitality. More than 200 industry leaders have volunteered as Next Gen champions and are working on strategies to sustain their efforts into 2020 and beyond.

Next Gen departs from the traditional government model where the public sector takes the lead and allocates resources. Under the Next Gen approach, business leaders from the same industry form regional partnerships to develop priorities that address shared workforce and growth needs. The public sector then works hand-in-hand with businesses to move their priorities forward, benefitting both local communities and the state as a whole. 
In Wyoming, at least one priority for every partnership has been specifically tied to talent with businesses wanting a workforce with better basic skills, new technical skills, or skills tied to key occupations. Other priorities have focused on building career awareness among youth and adults and marketing the region and the industry.
So far Next Gen partnerships have recommended and are working on new programs, products and partnering efforts based on regional industry priorities. These include the following examples:

  • Albany County Manufacturing Sector Partnership: New outreach to city and chamber to work together on business mentorship and address the issue of trailing spouses.
  • Big Horn Basin Sector Partnership: New health care camp/curriculum targeted at middle and high school students to build awareness about health care careers.
  • Goshen‐ Platte‐Niobrara Counties Sector Partnership: New directory of healthcare resources to connect providers and reduce the need to go outside the region for health care.
  • Fremont County Healthcare Sector Partnership: New unified health care assessment, career health days, and collaboration with the Fremont County CNA Association to focus on retention of nurses.
  • Laramie County Construction Sector Partnership:  A new dual enrollment program in the skilled trades involving local school districts and the community college.  Industry champions are actively involved in promoting the program in schools, reviewing curriculum, providing internships, and offering assistance in the classroom.  At the same time, they developed a referral system for high school students to connect directly with interested employers and implemented the first construction industry-specific job fair with the local workforce one-stop center.
  • Laramie County Hospitality Sector Partnership: New “Experience Cheyenne” training and hospitality jobs website.
  • Northeast Finance and Insurance Sector Partnership: New video series launched to raise financial literacy; new industry involvement in existing community initiatives to improve air service and market region to attract talent; and a new relationship established with high school and community college to align curriculum, help attract students to classes, and provide internships.
  • Sheridan‐Johnson Counties Manufacturing Sector Partnership: New manufacturing roundtable to share best practices, connect local buyers‐suppliers, meet with the community college on curriculum, and host a manufacturing festival to showcase the industry.
  • Southwest Manufacturing Sector Partnership: New manufacturing operator program launched, with a first class of students, most of whom already have job offers, with a second class underway and a waiting list; plan is to focus on mechanical and electrical certifications next; and new marketing packets for local manufacturers to give potential employees describing benefits of living in southwest Wyoming.

To encourage more businesses to join their regions’ partnerships, the Wyoming Workforce Development Council is revamping its outreach efforts to promote workforce initiatives tailored to the selected growth industries, as well as highlighting services provided by the one-stop workforce centers. The council’s outreach efforts will include a strong social media presence, advertising, email outreach, revised website, and videos.

The Council launched Next Gen Sector Partnerships as a collaborative effort with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, the Wyoming Business Council, the Wyoming Department of Education and the Wyoming Community College Commission. All of these agencies are represented on the council.

More than 80 Next Gen Sector Partnerships are active across the country in more than 15 states.  Next Generation Sector Partnerships are industry-led, community-supported partnerships that strengthen regional economies and connect people to jobs. Business leaders from a single industry in the same region collaborate in making their industry more competitive. They tackle a range of issues including improving the workforce pipeline, aligning training with industry needs, improving infrastructure, addressing regulatory barriers or facilitating business-to-business networking. The agenda is defined by business leaders, addressing the specific issues that matter most to their industry in their region. Next Gen Partnerships focus on issues that no single company can fully tackle on its own and that requires a collaborative approach. Next Gen Sector Partnerships are supported jointly by a regional team of public partners who work together to respond to industry priorities and contribute to the overall success of the partnership. This team draws from multiple organizations such as the region’s K-12, post-secondary education, workforce development, economic development, and chambers of commerce.  Visit

The Wyoming Workforce Development Council (WWDC) supports workforce development in local communities by bringing together public and private sector players to assist growing industries, build businesses and connect people with better jobs. The council advises the Governor’s Office and the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services on strategies to improve the state’s workforce development system, including its 20 one-stop-shop workforce centers. The governor appoints council members who represent a range of groups including business and industry, organized labor, legislators, education, social service agencies and others who have a stake in employment and training issues. Under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) law, the council operates as the state’s official Workforce Development Board charged with directing federal, state and local funding to workforce development programs and increasing sector partnerships with industry. Visit for more information on WWDC’s regional partnerships.