***Scroll down for links to the full NWDB Strategic Plan and Appendices***
The Northeastern Workforce Development Board (NWDB) serves Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Washington Counties. The Northeastern Workforce Development Board is one part of a vast workforce development system that includes a variety of partners and stakeholders. With the recent consolidation of Local Areas 1 (Aroostook and Washington Counties) and 2 (Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Hancock Counties), this network of potential partners has grown even larger, presenting new opportunities to leverage additional resources and more effectively provide services to all customers.
As the Board endeavors to develop new and reinforce existing partnerships, the goal is always the same: more effectively provide services to job seekers and employers, address skill gaps impeding economic growth, and developing career pathways that support the efforts of workers to access higher wages and more skilled employment.
Core Partners for NWDB and their corresponding WIOA Titles are:
- WIOA Service Providers – Title 1 – Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth programs
- Adult Education – Title 2
- Wagner-Peyser – Title 3 – Maine Career Centers also known as American Job Centers
- Vocational Rehabilitation – Title 4
To develop this plan, the Board met extensively with partners throughout the five-county region. The Board staff invited partners and Board members to participate in a two-day strategic planning retreat. During the retreat, stakeholders discussed some challenges the region faced but focused primarily on best practices occurring within individual organizations or areas of the region that could be applied more broadly. The strategic planning retreat provided the Board with a wealth of information about the workforce resources in the region, the areas where partners felt the Board could add the most value, opportunities to expand successful initiatives, and new initiatives that will help partners and stakeholders collaborate more effectively.
In addition to the strategic planning retreat, the Board staff has hosted several meetings with each of its committees and with representatives of each of the five counties. These have included meetings with One Stop Committees throughout the region, youth councils, adult education providers, and service providers. The meetings focused more intensely on these groups of the workforce system than was possible during the strategic planning retreat to understand their challenges, initiatives they would like to see the Board engaged in, and the resources they need to be successful.
The Board also issued surveys to relevant stakeholder groups. Each survey was designed explicitly to solicit relevant information from stakeholder groups, such as chamber of commerce and economic development organizations, employers, education and training providers, and community groups. This survey offered a simple way for stakeholders who were unable to participate in the strategic planning retreat or the small group meetings to offer input in the development of the plan.
This Plan is meant to be a “living process” and will be used in an ongoing manner by the NWDB and its Core Partners to guide the implementation of strategies and actions. It will be tracked and monitored regularly so that progress can be communicated to partners and stakeholders and adjustments to strategies and actions made as appropriate.
The NWDB Plan aligns with the overarching vision and goals of the State of Maine -2016-2020 Unified Plan- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The State Plan is based on the following premise: “The success of Maine’s economy will ultimately be determined by the strength and quality of its workforce and the ability of employers to fill their need for skilled labor.” The State Plan lays out the following goals:
“To compete regionally—and globally—Maine will develop a world-class talent pool and lead in technology and innovation. The state’s workforce and economy will be fueled by an education and training system that is inclusive and meets the needs of diverse learners. Maine will build its workforce through a multi-faceted approach that includes developing career pathways that lead to in-demand jobs. To mitigate barriers to employment, the workforce development system will coordinate and align activities that build the foundational skills of workers and individuals, improve the transitions between education and employment, foster greater occupational awareness, define certifications and industry recognized credentials, and develop a systematic means for the state to measure, gather and aggregate data on credential attainment.”
“Maine will also enhance and align its workforce development system to be more responsive to the needs of businesses. The plan focuses on the development and implementation of a systematic approach to engaging and responding to the workforce and business service needs of employers. The establishment of broader and deeper sector partnerships will enable the development of a pipeline of workers in high growth, high demand fields, thereby reducing apparent skill-gaps and the time needed to fill positions. Advancing a workforce development system that is more responsive to the needs of businesses will be essential to creating a more business friendly environment and developing a more competitive economy.”
And, to accomplish these goals the following action areas are set forth in the State Plan:
- Increase the relevance of the workforce development system to employers. Developing better alignment between the supply and demand for labor will result in fewer ‘difficult to fill’ positions, more efficient use of resources and a greater number of Maine residents with quality jobs.
- Produce an educated and skilled workforce through the development of a comprehensive Career Pathways system. Maine’s Career Pathways approach will focus on building the educational, employability and occupational skills of the population and articulating pathways that lead to in-demand credentials and jobs.
- Align the state’s commitment and investment in its workforce. Developing a workforce that is globally competitive and continuously well prepared to succeed in current and future careers will require the commitment and alignment of resources that extend beyond the public workforce system; employers, policy makers, legislators and administrators must be invested in the process and outcome.
- Increase the operational effectiveness of the workforce development system. Aligning and integrating systems, services and operations to enhance customer services will result in critical efficiencies.
- Grow and diversify the workforce through the development of innovative strategies that result in more Mainers with jobs and a larger workforce.