Pennsylvania High Performance Standards for
Key Findings from High Performance Standards Completed for 2006-07
Electronics Industry Partnerships
The two Electronics Industry Partnerships have reported progress on developing their partnerships and
implementing activities designed to improve competitiveness and upgrade the skills of employees. The
following is a summary of this progress, with key activities highlighted. Following the summary for each
of the main evaluation components, recommendations are offered to advance partnerships to the next
level of effectiveness.
This document was developed based solely on what was submitted from the Pennsylvania High
Performance Standards for Industry Partnerships forms. Since it is derived from that point in time, some
information and recommendations may be out of date. The recommendations are made by an external
team of reviewers; they should be viewed as suggestions for you to consider and not as mandates from the
Department of Labor and Industry.
Partnership WIB Program Phone Email
Luzerne/Schuylkill WIB Luzerne/Schuylkill Virginia Turano 570-342-3649 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Regional Center for Workforce Northwest Chet Kempinski 814-456-6299 email@example.com
Excellence on behalf of the NW PA
Electronic Manufacturing Service
Providers (NW EMS IP)
Ensuring Strategic and Effective Assistance to Businesses
In order to address the skill gaps critical to competitiveness and innovation, industry partnerships need to
develop long-term solutions within the context of the key trends impacting their industry. They also need
to develop systems to monitor trends and track their progress so that they can adapt their interventions
Current Business Conditions. IPs reported several factors determining profitability, including the cost of
materials and labor, the ability to invest capital, and the ability to develop a skilled workforce. Due to
global competition (China and the Pacific rim), customers have access to numerous contract
manufacturers, thus driving high performance expectations. Technological changes such as Restriction of
Use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and dual manufacturing processes increases the skill demands
required of employees. An aging workforce, exacerbated by the lack of interest in manufacturing careers,
puts pressure on businesses to develop entry-level workers who can succeed in positions that require
increased math and science skills.
Strategic Interventions. The two IPs have developed different interventions to address skill shortages.
One IP has worked with the Career and Technology Center to develop an Associates Degree program.
The other IP has conducted technical training for employees, which allowed businesses to promote
incumbent workers into more advanced positions, and bring more entry level employees on board. It has
also allowed businesses to meet the challenge of implementing lead-free manufacturing processes while
continuing to produce leaded products.
Both partnerships have also focused on pipeline and outreach activities. One IP contracted with the
Johnson College to develop a career pathway model. They have provided information about opportunities
in electronics through partnerships with the Northeast Tech Prep Consortium and the CareerLink Rapid
Response program. The other IP has offered a series of webinars on international RoHS to provide more
information about the competitive nature of the industry, and to make other companies aware of the
benefits of participating in the IP.
Monitoring Effectiveness. The IPs varied in their use of measurement processes, with one relying on
informal measurement and the other implementing a more quantitative measurement system. This IP
measures business retention on an annual basis. They also measure employer satisfaction and the
perceived impact of the services they provide.
Recommendations. Since the two IPs have implemented different but complementary interventions to
solve similar challenges, they should find ways to collaborate and share strategies. IPs should continue to
move toward quantitative measurement of the impact of their interventions on business success.
Ensuring Strategic and Effective Assistance to Workers
In order for partnerships to ensure that workers advance into higher-skilled, higher-wage jobs, they need
to work with employers to implement human resources practices that support efforts to improve job
quality and career advancement opportunities. These practices include recruiting, compensation, training,
performance management, and career ladders.
HR Best Practices. IPs noted that best practice firms focus on employee development and career
advancement. They offer training complemented by other developmental supports, including mentoring,
well-defined career ladder programs, and incentives for production teams. In addition to higher wages,
best practice firms are more likely to offer flex-time, tuition reimbursement, and incentive pay.
In Venango County, seven manufacturing companies set up a 6-week program to attract workers, which
includes soft skills, basic education, and drug testing, and guarantees successful participants an interview
with a participating HR department.
Strategic Interventions. One IP reported that the training program encourages individual development
and provides incentives to individuals that are part of companies with pay-for-performance systems. The
other IP noted that it has assisted firms by linking them with CareerLinks for job postings and candidate
Monitoring Success. One IP uses two indicators – growth in sales volume and new hires to assess the
creation of entry level positions. They also use cost of quality metrics and individual compensation
growth. This IP also has gone beyond measuring satisfaction to measure actual training effectiveness.
Recommendations. IPs should share information and tools with one another on career awareness, the
Associates degree program, and the institutional gap analysis strategy.
As a next step, Industry Partnerships should move toward ensuring that HR practices are in place to
support their training, associates degree, career ladder, and recruiting interventions. Compensation,
performance management, and selection systems should align with these interventions. Small and
medium sized firms can take advantage of the opportunity to leverage resources and move toward HR
Institutional Alignment: Aligning Goals and Catalyzing Change
The workforce system in each region is comprised of several organizations (public, private, and
education) that serve the needs of employers and workers. These organizations must work in concert to
align programs to industry needs, develop career ladders and/or new industry credentials, and to remove
barriers to successful employment. Industry partnerships need to understand the opportunities and
challenges facing key institutions in the region so that they work together to develop long-term solutions
to existing workforce challenges.
Understanding Institutional Practices. In terms of post-secondary education, IPs varied in their
perception of responsiveness. One reports that these institutions have been engaged and flexible, with two
community colleges collaborating to create a combined institution degree program. The other IP is
conducting a gap analysis to understand the disconnect between current program offerings and the needs
of the industry.
Partnerships have worked with a variety of workforce and economic development agencies, including the
PA CareerLinks, DCED, the IRC, the NE PA Manufacturers Association, and the Governor’s Action
While both partnerships are primarily non-union, union partners have been involved in training needs
assessment and developing the workforce pipeline.
Catalyzing Change. One IP has negotiated with the Community College of Allegheny County to
purchase an online curriculum targeted at entry-level workers at a discounted rate. This IP is in the
process of hiring a K-12 coordinator who will develop career pathway materials. The other IP is working
with the K-12 system (particularly the career and technology centers) to provide career and academic
preparation information. This IP has produced a video (available on YouTube), offered electronics camps,
and tours of businesses.
Monitoring Change. Partnerships have not yet developed measurement processes to determine the
extent that regional institutions are aligned with IP goals or the relationship between businesses and
institutions in the region.
Recommendations. As a first step toward measurement, IPs should identify their goals for impacting
change in key institutions. Conducting a gap analysis can help identify barriers and potential
opportunities. Goals and strategies can be then be derived from the gap analysis. As the IPs move
forward, they should develop formalized mechanisms for measuring the impact on business relationships
and the extent of institutional change.
Partnership Governance: Strategic Partners, Real Collaboration and
In order to achieve their goals, industry partnerships need to govern themselves effectively. This includes
developing effective ways to manage diverse interests, determine priorities, assign roles and
responsibilities, and facilitate communication. Successful partnerships must determine ways to engage
their existing members as well as reach out to potential members. They also need to seek ways to sustain
their success over time.
Engaged Key Stakeholders. One partnership has created a formal governance structure with decisions
made by an industry-led steering committee. The other partnership is in the process of creating a similar
structure, with key decisions made by an industry-led executive committee. One partnership reported that
all key stakeholders have been identified and contacted, whereas the other would like to seek out
additional union representation.
Collaboration Success Factors. Both partnerships report a strong sense of collaboration due to the focus
on industry needs. One partnership has formalized processes and structures in place, whereas the other is
working toward such formalization in order to improve coordination. One partnership reported that its
competence on international restrictions in the industry has elevated its leadership position, allowing it to
utilize technology and become the vehicle to transmit this knowledge to companies across the
commonwealth. This partnership reported that they have been able to achieve economies of scale by
importing knowledge (through training and education) to the cluster regionally. The other IP noted that
aggregating needs is a challenge due to the geographic scope of the partnership (12 counties).
Multiple Funding Sources. To date, the partnerships have leveraged existing sources of funding, as
RCEP, WEDNet, and Team PA Foundation. One partnership has implemented in-kind contributions.
Both partnerships are seeking additional sources of funding, including ARC funds, WIA Title I, TANF,
Rapid Response, and the USDOL WIRED initiative. One partnership is working with DCED to seek
funding for capital expansion and equipment programs.
Recommendations IPs should continue to examine ways to sustain their success over time. Ideas on
strategies for financing can be found here: http://www.nfwsolutions.org/publication_detail.html?id=508
To date, no IPs have engaged local philanthropies. IPs noted that local philanthropies will not support
entities unless they are 501c3s. Finding ways to partner with Community Based Organizations (e.g., to
recruit unemployed workers or those transitioning back into the workforce) may help achieve outreach
goals while at the same time opening up philanthropic sources of funding. .
In order to implement the recommendations suggested above, partnerships should seek out opportunities
for technical assistance offered by the state. They should also take advantage of opportunities for
networking and peer learning, such as Sector 101, cluster consortia, and the PA Sector Academy. In
addition, partnerships may want to reach out to other partnerships implementing similar programs.