Corporate – Community: Workforce Development Networks
Communities and Workforce Development. Kalamazoo, MI: Upjohn Institute, December

Sutton, S.A.

This paper examines employer perspectives on, and needs and expectations with respect to, building and sustaining collaborations with community-based organizations, as well as the usefulness of such collaborative relationships in creating opportunities for disadvantaged job seekers. The analysis is based on the examination of eight cases that are representative of a much larger group of very active corporations engaged in developing and sustaining workforce development programs. Particular attention is given to the level of corporate involvement with CBOs, which is referred to as external or corporate connectedness; and the level of internal corporate support for and integration of workforce development practices, which is their level of cohesiveness. Based on the analyses of these cases, I conclude that firms with high levels of connectedness and cohesiveness are more likely to provide “good” jobs—jobs that provide living wages, benefits, and the potential for upward mobility. By contrast, firms with low to moderate levels of connectedness and cohesiveness are more likely to provide entry-level jobs, with fairly low wages, low job security, and little mobility. This research fine-tunes Harrison and Weiss’s (1998) thesis about the importance of networks. Though optimal networks are both cohesive and connected, if we look at workforce development collaborations from an employer perspective, external connectedness seems to matter less than internal cohesiveness in producing good jobs for disadvantaged job seekers.

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