Sector Strategies engage a system-wide approach to collaborating across a local or regional labor market to support workforce development.  For YouthBuild programs, taking a sector strategy approach to developing career pathways in in-demand industries means understanding the hiring needs of employers in the sector, connecting these employers to the labor force supplied by YouthBuild, and providing high-quality training to ensure YouthBuild participants can compete for these jobs.

The Aspen Institute defines the elements of a sector strategy approach as follows:

  • Targets a specific industry or cluster of occupations, developing a deep understanding of the interrelationships between business competitiveness and the workforce needs of the targeted industry;
  • Intervenes through a credible organization, or set of organizations, crafting workforce solutions tailored to that industry and its region;
  • Supports workers in improving their range of employment-related skills, improving their ability to compete for work opportunities of higher quality;
  • Meets the needs of employers, improving their ability to compete within the marketplace; and
  • Creates lasting change in the labor market system to the benefit of both workers and employers. (, accessed 3/12/21)

In 2017, DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) developed a Sector Strategy Implementation Framework that drew from “emerging practices and research to advance ‘five key capabilities’ of successful focused organizations that state and regional workforce collaboratives will want to master in implementing a sector approach.”  These five key capabilities are:

  1. Data-Informed Decision Making
  2. Industry Engagement
  3. Sector-Based Service Delivery
  4. Sustainability and Continuous Improvement
  5. Organizational Capacity and Alignment

In addition, ETA published an overview for workforce development systems to use when developing their sector-based strategies. 

The YouthBuild model is perfectly aligned with, and YouthBuild programs are integral partners in, an overall sector strategy approach.  Programs can use the ETA framework to support their career pathways development work while also connecting to the greater workforce system. Below are some important steps to build a sector strategy, many of which YouthBuild programs are already doing:

  1. Create partnerships with the workforce board, American Job Center, local community college, and other training providers.
  2. Research local labor markets and choose sectors based on growth, staffing needs, advancement opportunities, and skill and workforce requirements that are a possible match for YouthBuild participants.
  3. Build relationships with employers from selected sectors and create a plan that maps all elements and determines roles for each partner.
  4. Strengthen participant readiness through occupational training and work experience.
  5. Place participants in jobs consistent with their skills and employer needs, including follow-up and support and ongoing skill-building opportunities.

For more information on sector strategies, be sure to register for the upcoming webinar, COVID-19 Lessons Learned: Using Sector Strategies as a Compass for Finding Strong Career Pathways, which will be held on March 30th at 2pm ET.

Related Resources

Sector Strategies Resources
Deeper Dive into Demand-Side Data: Identifying Target Sectors
Post-Program Placement E-Learning Series: Sector Strategies
Youth Apprenticeship Resources by Industry
Building Sustainable Apprenticeships: The Case of Apprenticeship 2000

Sector Partnership Policy Toolkit