Shared Understanding. Improved Systems. Greater Opportunity.
The workforce ecosystem not just in our region, but across the country, can be confusing for all users: employers, industry, governmental agencies, nonprofits, and the talent essential to a thriving economy. Through its Workforce Programs, the Greater New Orleans Foundation (Foundation) seeks to provide clarity and a better understanding of not just how our workforce ecosystem functions, but the best practices locally and nationally that are leading to stronger outcomes for communities and families. Our Workforce Programs aim to ensure the regional workforce ecosystem has the structural support needed to produce flourishing industries and employers and, ultimately, thriving communities.
Regional Workforce Intermediary
Many of the challenges in our workforce ecosystem reflect the need for broader support services for workers, such as reliable transportation and high-quality childcare, and for employers to access the talent they need, develop practices to support a more diverse workforce, and effectively deepen their talent pools. As such, the Foundation is in the early stages of research and development of an independent, regional workforce intermediary which will help provide strategic coherence for regional workforce efforts to boost impact, increase economic vitality, and ultimately grow the middle class in our region.
Industry Sector Partnerships
Industry sector partnerships (ISPs) bring education, workforce development, economic development, and community organizations together with business leaders, from the same industry and in the same labor market, to address the workforce and other competitiveness needs of that industry. ISPs are an important tool to address talent shortages and build thriving workforce ecosystems. In partnership with and with funding from the City’s Office Workforce Development, the Foundation is planning and developing two industry sector partnerships for our region in healthcare and construction/green infrastructure, two sectors with some of the highest anticipated growth rates in the number of quality jobs in the region. These ISPs will be employer and industry-driven while bringing the Foundation’s strong relationships with public and nonprofit sector partners to bear to increase opportunity and economic advancement for both these industries and their talent pools.
New Orleans Works (NOW)
Our signature workforce initiative, New Orleans Works (NOW), is an employer-led partnership that connects entry level and middle-skilled workers to jobs that offer career pathways. We seek to be an innovative leader through putting new ideas and partnerships to work.
- NOW: Health Care. Our first innovation was in the health care sector. NOW currently has partnerships with the major healthcare employers in the New Orleans area and Delgado Community College that has impacted close to 1,000 jobseekers and incumbent workers through training, promotions, and wage increases. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for training opportunities like those offered through NOW and has provided an opportunity for us to double down on our efforts to support this collaborative by funding new partners such as the LSU Institute for Community Health Workers and Clover.
- NOW: Green Infrastructure. Building on our success within the healthcare sector, the Foundation is now working to replicate its model within the water management sector and is focusing on the emerging green infrastructure (GI) field. The collaborative has supported efforts to establish a new entry-level curriculum that prepares jobseekers for careers in GI while also building the capacity of local training providers to deliver GI training.
- NOW: Funders Collaborative. The NOW Funders Collaborative was launched in 2011 as one of 35 local workforce collaborative sites of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS). The Collaborative brings together public, private, and philanthropic organizations to target financial resources to meet the needs of jobseekers, incumbent workers, and employers in high growth, high turnover, industry-specific sectors. The Collaborative creates partnerships with employers, builds capacity, and fosters public policy, advocacy to create robust and long-lived relationships among employers, workers, education, and training/service providers to enhance a cohesive pipeline to front-line jobs and career pathways.
Current Collaborative members include Capital One Foundation, the City of New Orleans, Entergy New Orleans, the New Orleans Business Alliance, Baptist Community Ministries, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
New Orleans Workforce Innovations
New Orleans Workforce Innovations (NOWI) was a pilot employee navigation program of the Foundation. NOWI partnered with employers to provide post-hire support to their incumbents to assist with those barriers employees faced that may or may not be associated with their day-to-day work, but that impacted their ability to effectively do their job. Employees of member organizations were provided with linkages to resources like housing, childcare, stress management, and financial asset building provided by way of a Workforce Navigator, who provided on-site assistance. Although NOWI was sunset in early 2023, the Foundation is engaging in a thorough evaluation of the NOWI program and its counterparts nationally to develop a model for employee navigation services in our region moving forward.