SWFI grantees may encounter challenges in connecting their participants to opportunities in target industries, ranging from “selling” the target industry to participants, to building participants’ skills so they can progress along a career pathway toward middle- and high-skilled employment. Strong, collaborative partnerships with employers and other stakeholders in your target industries can also help expand job training and employment opportunities for SWFI participants.

Grantees that target job training and employment in advanced manufacturing work especially hard to sell participants on the many opportunities in this industry, and to counter the impression that manufacturing is a “dirty” profession. Developing outreach strategies about what advanced manufacturing actually is can be an important component to selling the program. Successful strategies for marketing advanced manufacturing to participants can be adapted for other target industries including health care and information technology. Several grantees have developed tools and resources that simplify the message and explain advanced manufacturing. For example, Rochester Rehabilitation Center is working to increase the number of participants in advanced manufacturing training. Understanding that many people do not understand what advanced manufacturing is, Rochester has created outreach materials with very plain language that educate people on opportunities in this field.

During the March 28, 2018 industry expert call on advanced manufacturing, Kristina Szczyrbak will share her experiences in helping women explore, train, and secure employment in nontraditional occupations, especially skilled trades like machining and welding. Kristina will describe various tools she has developed to help organizations recruit participants in nontraditional occupations; these tools will be posted to the CoP for grantees to use in developing their own recruitment strategies. 

During the advanced manufacturing expert call, we will also discuss developing career pathways and competency models for SWFI participants. Kristina will describe the pre-apprenticeship program model that she uses to help participants progress along a career pathway. Several resources related to career pathways and competency models have also been posted on the CoP; we encourage you to review these resources and discuss with your SWFI TA coach how they can be adapted to support your own SWFI program, regardless of your target industry. For example, The Illinois Network for Advanced Manufacturing’s website and this issue brief describe INAM’s efforts to strengthen career pathways in advanced manufacturing by improving the delivery of education and career training programs. Another issue brief from the Office of Community College Research and Leadership describes community college efforts to adapt competency-based education to accelerate information technology instruction.

In addition, DOL’s Competency Model Clearinghouse can be especially useful as grantees help build participants’ skills so they can progress along a career pathway.  The advanced manufacturing competency model details the personal effectiveness, academic, and workplace competencies that participants need to thrive in competitive employment.  The model further details the industry-wide and industry-sector technical skills that participants specifically need to progress along a career pathway in advanced manufacturing. The model also incorporates the management competencies and occupation-specific requirements that participants should aim to develop for longterm success in the industry. DOL’s website also provides competency models for a wide range of industries, including health care and information technology for grantees focused on these target industries. 

Three case studies highlight competency models in action:


These additional resources may help grantees connect SWFI participants to opportunities in target industries:

  • March 28th 4pm ET webinar on competency-based education. Register for this WorkforceGPS event and learn about strategies for meeting the soft skills, adult basic education, and developmental education needs of your participants.

  • TAACCCT Acceleration Strategies. These briefs describe TAACCCT grantees’ use of Prior Learning Assessment to accelerate credential attainment for adult students with considerable work experience, as well as models used by TAACCCT grantees to support underprepared adult learners.