Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board Strategic Planning and Technical Assistance Project

Downtown Cleveland with River, Bridge, Trees, and Deep Blue Sky

In order to have the greatest impact, local workforce development boards use strategic planning and connected systems innovation to drive regional economic prosperity, create career pathways for job seekers and workers, and advance equity in the communities they serve. Over the course of several years, AIR supported the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board with strategic planning and related workforce system improvement assistance. 

The resulting plan emphasized the Board’s support for advancing business and industry prosperity, opportunity for job seekers and workers, racial and economic equity, and workforce system leadership and innovation.

Strategic Plan Development: In 2019, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board partnered with AIR to design and facilitate the process for developing the Board’s 2019‐2023 strategic plan and to provide related technical assistance and professional development services. The six-month plan development process involved retreats and ongoing consultation with board members, board committees, and staff leaders, as well as an extensive community stakeholder engagement and input‐gathering effort, accomplished via an online stakeholder survey, several focus groups, and multiple individual and small group interviews. 

Following completion of strategic planning work, AIR continued its partnership with the Board. In line with the vision, mission, and goals detailed in the strategic plan, AIR supported the following strategic priorities from 2020 to 2022.

Job Seeker Customer Service Delivery Assessment: AIR conducted an assessment of service design and delivery for adult and young adult job seeker customers of the OhioMeansJobs|Cleveland-Cuyahoga County (OMJ|CC) system that the Board oversees. 

This effort explored: 

  • The range of services provided to OMJ|CC job seeker customers, customers’ service delivery expectations and experiences, 
  • The level of coordination among partners in the OMJ|CC system, and
  • OMJ|CC system staff training and professional development needs, among other areas. 

Project activities included a survey, interviews, and focus groups with OMJ|CC customers, staff, and system partners, as well as delivery of an assessment findings and recommendations report. 

Business Customer Service Delivery Assessment: AIR assessed service design and delivery for business customers of the OMJ|CC system. The project explored the extent to which design and delivery of OMJ|CC business services were driven by the needs and preferences of employer customers, as well as the extent to which OMJ|CC business customer outreach and service delivery were aligned with and supportive of the workforce needs of critical regional industry sectors. 

Project activities included: (1) online survey of OMJ|CC business customers, (2) interviews with leaders from business/industry-facing organizations, and (3) focus groups with CCWDB and contracted service provider staff who served OMJ|CC business customers. 

AIR delivered a report on assessment findings and recommendations at the conclusion of the project work. 

Business Services Best Practice Research: To build on the business customer service delivery assessment work, the Board asked AIR to conduct best practice research and provide recommendations on high-quality services for business customers and alignment of service design and delivery to the workforce needs of target industry sectors. AIR conducted online research and facilitated phone and email interviews with staff from other local workforce development areas similar to Cleveland-Cuyahoga County to gather their practices and insights and delivered a final report with recommendations and related tools. 

OMJ|CC System Values Implementation Support: In early 2021, the Board and the OMJ|CC leadership team developed a set of values to support the vision and shape the culture within the OMJ|CC system. The values were designed to advance quality and consistency in system service delivery, across all partners, and advance accountability to OMJ|CC job seekers and business customers. 

To support this work, AIR planned and facilitated a virtual session with OMJ|CC system staff and partners to discuss how to implement the values in practice/daily work, which included  identifying challenges and barriers to implementation, determining new approaches and practices required for implementation, and articulating next steps. Session output was detailed in a summary report for the Board. 

Research on Local Workforce Development Boards’ “Priority” Employers Criteria: The Board asked AIR to conduct research into how other local workforce development boards around the country identify and prioritize partnerships with, services for, and investment in “critical” and/or “quality” employers. Such employers might be those in high-demand/high-growth or emerging industries; those that prioritize a focus on workforce diversity, equity, and inclusion; and/or those that offer family-sustaining wages, among other potential criteria. After conducting its research, AIR provided the Board with a summary of findings. 

Strategic Plan Impact Report: In late 2022, AIR gathered input from the Board’s staff and fielded a survey of board members and staff to compile a report on activities and impacts related to its 2019-2023 strategic plan. The report included details on accomplishments around strategic plan goals and strategies, a summary of significant areas of impact, and recommendations for ongoing and/or new focus in the Board’s next strategic plan.