Using Planning Processes to Build Strategic Partnerships That Support Your Work
June 14, 2024

One of the most powerful ways to position BIL or IRA work for success is to leverage a strong network of strategic partners not only to deliver workforce development services but also to braid the funding to maximize its impact. While partnership can have its challenges as timelines, compliance requirements, performance metrics or funder priorities may not always be aligned, the steps below will go a long way in fostering successful strategic partnerships.

  • A clear vision and value proposition: Lay out how each organization will deliver value and where the organizations would like to work together. This includes considering the unique services, knowledge or community position each organization can bring to the table to support the collective goals of creating good jobs, equitable pathways and strong communities. State planning processes for workforce, education master plans or workforce board local plans can all be a good jumping-off point as they outline the objectives of each system and encourage collaboration across stakeholders. Existing training and apprenticeship programs, such as those under the Eligible Training Provider List managed by the workforce board, can also be a good mechanism to accelerate the delivery or expansion of training. 
  • Shared metrics: Clearly define what success looks like and develop a set of shared job quality and equity metrics to track the impact of your collective actions on areas such as placement rates at or above living wage, number of jobs that provide benefits or are covered by bargaining agreements, PLAs or CBAs, and levels of safety incidents. 
  • Integrated and aligned data: Use data to identify needs and surface potential solutions. Data can help to create a common knowledge base and encourage alignment around a set of shared goals. Additionally, often no one organization holds all of the information necessary to understand the trajectory of an individual or company. To create a fuller picture, new data sharing agreements may need to be signed (MOUs, cross training, data governance) or policies may need to be established, such as between workforce, K–12 education, corrections and social services to facilitate integrated program models. Data partnerships between enforcement agencies and the workforce agency can also create feedback loops so that individuals are not placed in companies with repeated violations. If there are gaps in the data, additional information may need to be collected. 
  • Consistency and trust: Building relationships and rapport with partners is crucial. Make sure to establish regular communication channels and schedule a regular cadence of meetings to discuss progress and address any challenges. Planning processes are one mechanism for this, but active contract management1 is another way to create regular engagement as projects move forward. Existing workforce board meetings can provide one venue to connect with a diversity of partners. 
  • Dedicated resources: Consider the city staff members who will be needed to specifically manage and care for the partnerships. A dedicated point of contact along with roles and responsibilities will help all members of the partnership understand not only their role but how to interact with other organizations. It will likely require budgetary support in order to execute over the long term.

Sample Planning Process for Consideration in Partnership

Each of these plans provides an opportunity to:

  • Perform labor market analysis on the knowledge, skills and abilities needed by the workforce of today, as well as the likely number of workers needed tomorrow
  • Make commitments to deploy policies that will protect and uplift workers through living wages, safety and security, schedules and access to benefits
  • Ensure unions are part of the future vision and create opportunities for engagement and partnerships as early as possible; include pre-apprenticeship and other exposure opportunities for youth
  • Identify strategic investments into expanding occupational skills programs, as well as on-the-job training opportunities in both union and non-union fields
  • Lean into early workforce development by embedding exposure opportunities and age-appropriate skills development into existing math, science, and related curriculums, as well as through the use of pre-apprenticeships to teach workplace safety, data analytics or other foundational skills
  • Transform agency procurement processes by requiring or incentivizing commitments to good jobs through the use of policy, programmatic requirements and measurement approaches
  • Create commitments around changing compliance processes, such as licensing, to educate or advance job quality and equity 
  • Make investments in data collection systems to allow for disaggregation and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data, including worker voice
  • Consider opportunities to highlight high road employers through subsidies, incentives or designations
  • Support the capacity building of small and midsize (SMB) businesses, BIPOC businesses and other underserved communities so they are positioned to compete for funds as they are deployed


See specific examples on incorporating workforce in the summary section of each plan.

Plan Summary Frequency Agency
Digital Equity Plans (Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program)

These plans focus on closing the digital divide by ensuring everyone has affordable access to high-speed internet. They identify underserved communities and outline strategies to expand broadband infrastructure, affordability programs, and digital literacy training.


Incorporating workforce: Plans can be used to direct BEAD funds to programs that encourage residents from underserved communities to enter the broadband and technology sector through the funding of support and training including scholarships, occupational training, pre-apprenticeship programs or digital skills training. Plans should articulate partnership models with workforce, community college and K–12 systems to embed the learning into existing pathways and learning programs. Plans should also outline the development of policy tools — living wage, scheduling, project labor agreements or safety/heat policies — and use of compliance processes — licensing, capital access — to protect and support workers. 

Varies by state or program Federal: National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
Electric Vehicle Charging Plans (National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program)

These plans aim to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) by creating a network of charging stations along highways and in communities. They identify funding sources, prioritize locations for charging stations, and consider factors like equity and rural access.


Incorporating workforce: Plan can be used to build pre-apprenticeship models for technicians into high school curriculum. Workforce can develop EV specific programs for underserved zip codes, using mobile workforce delivery models that meet people where they are. Workforce can also partner with cities to offer incentives for small or rural companies to install chargers and potentially provide training for fleet managers on integrating EVs and charging into their operations through incumbent worker training funding. Plans should also include structuring incentives and requirements into procurement processes for the award of dollars to organizations prioritizing underserved populations and pathways to good jobs. 

Varies by state or program Federal: Department of Transportation (DOT)
Long-Range Statewide Transportation Plans (LRSTPs)

These plans serve as a roadmap for transportation development in a state over a long-term horizon (typically 20–30 years). They assess current needs, identify future transportation goals, and outline strategies for investment in roads, bridges, public transit, freight systems, and other transportation infrastructure.


Incorporating workforce: Plans can include considerations for the knowledge, skills and abilities required by the future workforce to support the construction of such infrastructure and its greening and be used to facilitate strategic discussions with workforce and economic development agencies about building such needs into the K–12 system to ensure awareness, access and inclusion. This includes essential skills such as digital literacy, English language support and increasingly the leverage of AI. 

Updated periodically, typically every 5–10 years State: Departments of Transportation
Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs (STIPs)

These plans prioritize specific transportation projects for funding within a shorter time frame (typically 4–5 years). They are informed by the LRSTP and focus on projects that are ready for construction and align with the state’s transportation goals.


Incorporating workforce: Plans can be used to set vendor diversification, job quality and access goals for underserved populations and to allocate resources to support target outreach to these communities. Plans can also be used to set the tone for establishing policy standards such as living wage, or the use of community benefits agreements, and initiating necessary capacity building early within potential vendor pools, particularly of BIPOC or SMBs, before entering a formal procurement. This way the businesses are  primed to compete for the work and have the resources to attract and hire diverse talent. 

Updated annually or biennially State: Departments of Transportation
Climate or energy plans (e.g., Priority Action Climate Plan for CPRG)

These plans address climate change and energy use. They may include targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strategies for increasing renewable energy use, and measures to improve energy efficiency. The Priority Action Climate Plan (PCAP) is a specific example developed under the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) program. It focuses on near-term actions to reduce emissions.


Incorporating workforce: The plans often identify gaps in existing workforce training programs and potential opportunities to address them, particularly in areas of green construction and infrastructure. State plans may include dedicated sections on workforce development, workforce planning, or job training.

Varies by plan, some may be updated regularly (e.g., annually) while others may be longer-term (e.g., 10 years) Federal: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Safety Action Plans (e.g. Vision Zero)

These plans aim to improve safety on roads and highways. They identify high-crash locations, analyze contributing factors, and develop strategies to reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries. Vision Zero Plans are a specific type of safety action plan with the ultimate goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities and serious injuries.


Incorporating workforce: Implementation of safety measures will require upskilling of existing staff and additional hiring in areas including areas like traffic engineering and data analysis.  Vision Zero plans highlight the importance of collaboration between government agencies, advocacy groups, and the community.  Cities can partner with workforce development agencies to give voice to underrepresented populations through their existing participant base.

Varies by plan, some may be updated every few years while others may be longer-term (e.g., 10 years) Federal: Department of Transportation (DOT)
WIOA State and Local Plans

Developed under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), these plans outline strategies for workforce development. They focus on training programs, job placement services, and other initiatives to help people develop the skills and experience they need to succeed in the workforce.


Incorporating workforce: Primary workforce development plan for the state which lays out priorities for all WIOA dollars. Can be used as an integrated plan to outline the vision for all dollars supporting workforce development, regardless of their source. Can also set precedent for how procurements will be used to advance job quality and equity both through the projects themselves and the community-based organizations who are funded. 

Varies by state or locality, often updated every 4–6 years Federal: Department of Labor (DOL)
Education State Plans

These plans set goals and strategies for improving K–12 and higher education levels. They may address topics such as curriculum standards, teacher quality, school funding, and student achievement.


Incorporating workforce: Primary education development plan for the state which lays out priorities for all dollars. Can be used as an integrated plan to outline the vision for all dollars supporting workforce education, regardless of their source. 

Varies by state, often updated every few years State: Departments of Education
Housing Plans

These plans address housing affordability, availability, and quality. They may include strategies for increasing affordable housing units, providing rental assistance, and improving the condition of existing housing stock.


Incorporating workforce: Plan can include an articulation of connection between stable housing and job retention, including considerations for connection to affordable housing as a supportive service, as part of how underserved populations can enter and persist in pathways to infrastructure and climate jobs. Can also explore impacts of distance between affordable housing, daycare, eldercare, and core employment “hubs” in the community. 

Varies by state or locality Often Department of Housing and Community Development or similar at state/local level
Economic Development Plans

These plans outline strategies for promoting economic growth and job creation. They may include initiatives to attract new businesses, support existing businesses, and develop a skilled workforce.


Incorporating workforce: These plans can include an analysis of emerging sector needs and considerations for how the talent pipeline will be managed. This includes outlining investments in skill development for emergent fields as part of youth programming to equip the future workforce. These plans can also outline approaches to support SMBs in the job design process so that workers are connected to good jobs and employers benefit from increased retention, reduced recruitment costs and improved productivity. Additionally, plans can outline awareness or exposure campaigns to increase employer understanding of how to tap into immigrant/refugee populations, justice-involved populations and opportunity youth. 

Varies by state or locality Often Department of Commerce or similar at state/local level
Resilience Plans

These plans focus on preparing for and responding to natural disasters and other emergencies. They may include strategies for mitigating risks, improving preparedness and ensuring a quick recovery.


Incorporating workforce: Plans can include how disaster recovery competencies will be built into the community, as well as set standards for the use of community benefits agreements that, in the event of a disaster, will ensure communities are not only heard but receive the necessary support and benefits from rebuilding efforts. 

Varies by state or locality Often Emergency Management Office or similar at state/local level

1. Active contract management is an approach developed by Harvard’s Government Performance Lab as part of its Results Driven Contracting approach. For more information, see section 3 on procurement or visit GPL website

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