Workforce Development for Economic Developers Part 6: Strategic Roadmap for Workforce Development

Workforce Development for Economic Developers

Part 6: Strategic Roadmap for Workforce Development


Business executives and site consultants not only want to know if you now have the skilled labor they need but they also want to know that the skilled labor will be there in the long-term. The Strategic Roadmap is a comprehensive and inclusive process to develop a strategic plan to ensure that your labor market has the future workforce that is needed by the companies in your target sectors or clusters.

The Strategic Roadmap process used by Smart Solutions Group is built on the active participation of key stakeholders from business, education, workforce development, economic development, and other areas. Leadership is critical in the development of an effective Roadmap. Since businesses are responsible for creating jobs and hiring workers, then someone from the business community should lead this process. Given that various stakeholder groups may have different perspectives on workforce development needs, providing them with data on historic trends and future projections will provide each of the stakeholders with a common understanding of the workforce situation now and in the future. In summary, the Strategic Roadmap process should be business-led and data-driven.

To develop the Roadmap, a 4-step process is used:



Workforce Assessment: Demographic, industry, and occupation historical trends and projections are analyzed in this initial step in the process. A few of the questions that will be answered in this step include:

  • How is the total population, as well as the key working age segment, projected to grow over the next 5 to 10 years?
  • What is the current employment participation rate (employment divided by working age population) today and how is it projected to change over the next 10 years?
  • What is the projected growth in total employment as well as employment in each of the target sectors or clusters?
  • Will the region have enough workers to meet the projected job growth?
  • How do wages in the labor market compare to the state and nation?
  • What occupations are projected to have the most openings (new jobs + replacement of workers)?
  • How many students are completing degrees and certificates at post-secondary institutions in the labor market that prepare students for careers in the target sectors or clusters?
  • What skilled occupations are projected to have the greatest shortages?

This step will conclude with stakeholders developing a list of the key labor force issues facing your region.

Solutions to Key Issues: Facilitated sessions are held with stakeholders to discuss the key issues identified in the Assessment step and potential solutions will be identified. The key issues and their potential solutions will be documented in a “Challenges” Report.

Develop of the Roadmap: The Challenges Report provides the focus for the Roadmap Plan Team, which will be responsible for developing the workforce strategies and programs in the plan. Some of the elements of the Roadmap may include:

  • Skilled worker shortages/gaps
  • Education & training
  • Marketing to attract students and workers to the key occupations
  • Goals and objectives
  • Responsibilities and timetable
  • Performance measurement
  • Organization for implementing the Roadmap

Roadmap Implementation: A team will be formed to oversee the implementation of the Roadmap and ensure the sustainability of the skilled workforce. A process will be developed to compare actual performance with the plan’s metrics and to make modifications to the Roadmap as needed. Communications programs will be established to keep all stakeholders aware of progress and performance. This team should be led by a business executive that is well respected among the various stakeholders groups. Since this leadership position will require a significant amount of time, a retired business executive would be an excellent choice.

Part 7 of this series will cover the specific workforce information that site consultants and business executives want from economic development organizations. If you have any comments or questions regarding Strategic Roadmaps, contact Ed Andrews at

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