Thursday, January 23, 2020
Developing Collaborative Partnerships :: Workforce Work Essays
Developing Collaborative Partnerships Collaboration has become the byword of the 1990s as a strategy for systemic change in human services, education, government, and community agencies. Increasingly, public and private funders are rewarding or requiring collaborative efforts. The advent of block grants is creating an urgent need for integrated, locally controlled services. Shrinking resources are causing many organizations to consider the potential benefits of working together. States are looking at ways to integrate their economic, work force, and technology development efforts (Bergman 1995). Perhaps most important is the realization that the complex problems and needs of families, workers, and communities are not being met effectively by existing services that are "fragmented, crisis oriented, discontinuous, and episodic" (Kadel 1991, p. vi). Collaboration involves more intense, long-term efforts than do cooperation or coordination. Collaborating agencies make a formal, sustained commitment to accomplishing a shared, clearly defined mission. Collaborative efforts can overcome such problems as fragmentation of client needs into distinct categories that ignore interrelated causes and solutions. They can make more services available or improve their accessibility and acceptability to clients (Melaville and Blank 1993). Collaborations require a change in thinking--the ability to see the "big picture"--and in operating--alteration of structures, policies, and rules to make service delivery seamless. Such changes, or "paradigm busting" (Bendle/Carman 1996) can be intimidating or threatening; in addition, other barriers must be overcome in order to make partnerships work: negative past experiences with collaboration; difficult past/present relationships among agencies; competition and turf issues; personality conflicts; differing organizational norms, values, and ideologies; lack of precedent; and fear of risk (Anderson 1996; National Assembly 1991). This Brief looks at successful collaborations involving work force development, family literacy, and welfare reform to identify the elements that make collaborations effective. Based on existing guidelines and successful programs, the steps needed to create and sustain collaborative relationships are described to help adult, career, and vocational educator s forge the linkages that could improve services. Collaborative Examples One-stop career centers are collaborative efforts among agencies that have traditionally provided employment and training services such as information, counseling, referral, and placement; U.S. Department of Labor funding has supported their development in several states. Before the federal initiative, a prototype arose in Waukesha, Wisconsin (Anderson 1996), where the Workforce Development Center provides an integrated, seamless system of employment services through the joint efforts of nine public and private agencies, including the state job service, a technical college, child care center, labor organization, and county health and human services department.