Workforce Partnership Initiative - Business Higher Education Forum & Business Roundtable

Last Updated: 03/13/2024

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With the assistance of a grant awarded by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation in summer 2022, the Business Higher Education Forum (BHEF) expanded its work on the Workforce Partnership Initiative (WPI) to Phase 2. The WPI is a Business Roundtable-led effort to leverage the collective interest and need among CEOs for a skilled workforce. BHEF is the implementation partner for WPI.

The initiative focuses on driving inclusive economic growth in geographic regions with a commitment to increasing workforce diversity, supporting business-higher education partnerships, and accelerating and scaling best-in-class workforce development programs.

Phase 1

Phase 1 launched in June 2018 as a 5-year effort including regional projects focused on business-higher education partnerships in selected states, as well as a national effort to disseminate learning from the projects and scale effective practices.

Regional projects included efforts in data science and analytics, cybersecurity, water and energy sciences, materials sciences, and engineering.

BHEF compiled tools and materials to enable business and higher education to move from piecemeal activities such as on-campus recruiting or support of research related to business products and services—to strategic and long-term partnerships to align human capital with workforce needs. The initiative focused on assisting companies, higher education institutions, private philanthropies, government agencies, and other stakeholders seeking to invest in long-term partnerships to increase the persistence of undergraduate students, particularly women and minorities, toward degree attainment and to create connections between undergraduate education and the 21st century workplace.

Phase 2

Work continues with selected sites from Phase 1 plus new regions joining WPI. Phase 2 is tracking impact in areas such as the number of partnerships and programs developed, curricula enhanced, and total participants—both individuals and organizations.

Work focuses in three areas:

  • Implementing best practices that result in higher representation of traditionally underrepresented populations in the workforce.
  • Accelerating access to a full spectrum of competitive, ready-to-work learners with in-demand skills.
  • Fostering high performing industry-higher education partnerships built on market-driven knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Outcomes from Phase 1

Phase I outcomes demonstrated that regional-specific skills development can have a meaningful effect of employers' talent needs. Information on Phase 1 regional partnerships is available in a series of case studies. The 2021 report covers 5 of the 9 partnerships: Chicago; D.C. - Maryland-Virginia; North Carolin a; New York City; and the Southeast.

Partners and Funders

Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), Business Roundtable, JP Morgan Chase Foundation



Expanding Skills and Employment Pathways Through Innovative Partnerships | Business Roundtable


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