The GO TO 2040 Project of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) provides a unique opportunity to step back and think about workforce development as a regional network or system and imagine how its role can be most effectively and efficiently deployed to contribute to the region's prosperity. While there are regional workforce development initiatives underway in the Chicago region, to our knowledge, "workforce development" as a system has not been analyzed for a regional plan for a metropolitan area the size of Chicago. It is also important to note that neither a defined regional workforce development political or administrative jurisdiction nor a regional administrative entity for workforce development has been a necessary precursor to any of the existing regional initiatives.
The development of workforce development recommendations for the GO TO 2040 Project was intended both to build from current regional and local work, as well as to reorient the workforce system to play a stronger and more strategic role in the region. The workforce development system in the region does not have the same structures that other systems have. Moreover, the two groups of customers of the workforce development system -- individual jobseekers/workers and employers -- are neither homogenous categories nor do they respond to or interact with public policy or programs in a linear fashion.
Trying to identify the strategies that need to be implemented by 2040 for the region's workforce development system was conducted within the context defined by heterogeneity of customers, localization of service delivery and the intersection of the workforce development system with other key systems -- namely education and economic development.
We hope this report provides a workforce policy framework for the region that builds on successes, experience and opportunities. Fundamentally, the recommendations in this report call for cross-system coordination through key mechanisms that can advance and facilitate the implementation of career and education pathways that are both accessible to the region's workforce and adaptive to workforce needs of the region's employers that we expect will change over time.