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Step One: Identify and Employ the Right Partnership Intermediary

The right convener, often known as a workforce intermediary, implies an organization with an understanding of employer and worker issues in a specific industry. Sector initiatives utilize workforce intermediaries to engage employers and other key stakeholders, to coordinate information and resources, and to facilitate the development and implementation of an effective response to the identified challenge within the target industry. An intermediary does not chart the course of the sector partnership, which is the responsibility of employers in the target industry. Instead, the intermediary is responsible for mobilizing the partners and providing a forum for action.

The intermediary may or may not be the fiscal agent of a sector initiative. Some sector partnerships combine the responsibilities under one entity, the benefit being a more seamless approach to align partnership activities with leveraged resources. Others separate them in order to encourage a streamlined focus on the policy and practice changes needed to address the challenge, without the administrative burden of fiscal management. Whether the fiscal manager of the initiative or not, the intermediary entity must possess the appropriate staffing mix and skills set to coordinate the sector partnership. (See job descriptions of a partnership intermediaries.)

A variety of organizations can act as an intermediary, including employer organizations (such as chambers of commerce or trade associations), labor-management partnerships, local workforce investment boards or one-stop centers, community colleges, training providers, faith- or community-based organizations, placement firms, or others. A consideration often factored into the identification of an intermediary is the potential for a conflict of interest that may directly impact the decisions of a partnership. To avoid such conflicts, intermediaries are not typically a single employer or a single training provider. Here are some Real Life Examples of Partnership Intermediaries.

The first responsibilities of an intermediary will be to identify and recruit community stakeholders to participate as full partners in the initiative; to engage industry leaders who will participate as full partners and chart the direction of the initiative; to coordinate in-depth analysis of the industry and challenges it faces; and to facilitate the first stages of strategic planning.