6 Steps You Need to Know When Developing a Workforce Strategy

Ford Next Generation Learning
5 min readJan 10, 2022

Jennifer Edge, Director, Innovation & Product Management, Ford NGL

Companies need a talent-development strategy that addresses their needs, concerns, and business realities. The best way to develop and implement that strategy is by establishing powerful partnerships between the employer organization and local educational institutions, starting within the K-12 school system — specifically the career and technical education programs. Ford Next Generation Learning (developed and supported by Ford Motor Company Fund) recommends employers apply the following six steps when developing their workforce strategy.

  1. Analyze and specify your company’s motivation and needs Why does your company want to partner with career and technical education pathway programs? How might this strategy connect with your overall workforce and talent-pipeline needs? Which aspects of your company are the priority focus? For example, are there certain sectors or skill teams that have the greatest need? What data is informing this analysis for your company?
  2. Identify your company’s stakeholders Who from within your company must be involved in developing this workforce strategy? It should include your company’s top-level leadership and anyone engaged in recruiting talent. This team will need to ensure that there is a system and structure in place to support meaningful engagement with career and technical programs at local high schools and post-secondary institutions.
  3. Determine if a CTE pathway program already exists Which career and technical education (CTE) programs currently exist in your community that align with your company’s workforce development priorities? If no programs exist, there might be an opportunity to create a new CTE pathway. Does your local secondary school system or post-secondary institutions offer a curriculum that includes much of what you have identified as foundational knowledge or skills? Investigate who the CTE coordinator is at your local district(s), and schedule a meet and greet. Conduct internet searches and make some calls!
  4. Identify the foundational knowledge and skills required What professional and personal skills are important to see in your new employees? List those skills and discover how they align with existing CTE pathway programs and/or which ones might best be incorporated within a new pathway. Identify which jobs/sections of your company offer entry-level positions suitable for young people just coming out of high school or graduating from college. What educational attainment is required to move into the various jobs? If your company has historically looked only at technical colleges, community colleges, and graduate programs, expand that pipeline to include the K-12 system. Doing so can be a great opportunity to help build the future workforce from the ground up. Technical training staff are a logical and capable resource for analyzing the foundational skills needed for each department and for prioritizing those areas with the greatest personnel need(s).
  5. Determine your company’s readiness and capacity It is critical that your company sees the benefits of partnering with education. It requires your company to be prepared for a strategic partnership with career and technical education pathways that most align with your industry. Consider what must be in place in order to support a meaningful connection with local CTE administrators, teachers, and students. Do your policies support employees engaging with teachers and students in the classroom? Might you assign someone from your company to coordinate all activities with the district? Will you give your coordinator the authority necessary to ask employees to advise teachers and CTE directors and to assist in on-the-ground, project support of students? Typical developmental and application activities for both students and educators are highlighted below.

6. Prepare for a connection Can your company clearly articulate your workforce needs to the school system and make a direct connection to the school system’s learning outcomes? Arrange meetings with the appropriate school system staff members, such as the CTE coordinator, to discuss the partnership and to share what your company brings to the table. This type of partnership will need the capacity to move beyond the transactional (just looking for workers) and enter into what we call transformational, powerful partnerships. Here is an important tip. Before the meeting, be informed regarding the CTE pathway programs available in your region/local community. Check out the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) for more information about CTE by going to their site: https://www.acteonline.org/why-cte/.

Adopting this talent-development strategy requires your company to see the true benefits of partnering with education. It requires that your company be prepared to engage in a strategic partnership with career and technical education pathways that align with your industry. To begin the right way (i.e., determining readiness and capacity) consider working with an organization like Ford NGL.

When companies apply the Ford NGL Powerful Partnership Blueprint with fidelity, they will achieve success for their young people, their workforces, and their communities. Ford Next Generation Learning knows from over 30 years of experience in workforce and education development that there is both a science and an art to building effective partnerships.

Begin the transformation today! Ready the culture, systems, and structures of your company to effectively engage in powerful partnerships and create the workforce of tomorrow. For more information visit www.fordngl.com or email Cheryl Carrier, Ford NGL Executive Director at info@fordngl.com.

The Ford NGL Powerful Partnership Blueprint

This piece was originally developed for the Consumer Technology Association. Created in partnership with the Association for Career & Technical Education (ACTE).

Ford NGL is a transformational education and workforce initiative of Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford. To learn more about Ford NGL visit www.fordngl.com



Ford Next Generation Learning

Workforce and education solutions that advance success for all students especially those furthest from opportunity.