Skip to main content

Sector Partnerships


On this page...

This program has moved to Iowa Workforce Development as of September 19, 2022. Find more information here.

Sector partnerships are increasingly recognized as an effective method for aligning education, economic and workforce development systems to address industry-identified labor market needs.

Sector partnerships are comprised of industries with shared needs, as well as various education, workforce, economic and community organizations in supportive roles. These partnerships develop and continuously evaluate goals, policies, and service-delivery strategies to meet the needs of employers in a given sector. In doing so, they operate within labor market regions and are not confined to municipal, county, educational, or state boundaries. Effective sector partnerships are industry-driven, meaning industries identify needs and assume the lead role in developing strategies which address their identified needs.

Community of Practice and Networking Initiatives

Sector Partnerships in Iowa - Inventory and Mapping Report

An exploratory survey was conducted in December 2015 to begin the inventory and mapping process of sector partnerships in Iowa. At that time, an estimated 40 sector partnership groups were operating at various levels of maturity, serving over 85 counties across a wide range of industries in Iowa.

An initiative to expand upon that baseline work and provide a much more accurate and robust view of the current sector partnership landscape in Iowa was completed in July 2017 through a partnership between the Department, Iowa's community colleges, Iowa Workforce Development, and the University of Northern Iowa’s researchiQ (a collaboration between Strategic Marketing Services and Institute for Decision Making). Through quantitative and qualitative primary research, along with supplementary secondary market research, approximately 60 sector partnerships across the state were found to be in existence, now serving all of Iowa’s 99 counties. This information has continued to be updated and is presented in the interactive map below.

Iowa Sector Connect - Community of Practice

Initiatives are being developed and implemented to further connect new and existing sector partnership teams to network, share best practices, and offer support to one another so that all continue to grow and thrive. Sector-specific group facilitator meetings are offered each month. Guest speakers, industry representatives, and subject matter experts are often invited to join to cover various topics. Contact Joe Collins to learn more and join meetings.

Work-Based Learning Employer and Educator Guides

In coordination with Iowa’s 15 community colleges, the Iowa Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network, and various trade associations, employers, educators, and other public/private community partners from across the state, the Iowa Department of Education is developing a series of guides, or toolkits, to help communities better understand, build, and implement work-based learning opportunities in some of Iowa’s most critical industries. Each industry-specific guide will address special considerations, regulations, resources, and examples of successful programs from across the state

These new resources will help to better engage with students and job seekers of all ages by providing hands-on learning opportunities earlier in the career planning process. Explore the Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide for more general work-based learning guidance and contact Joe Collins to learn more or to be part of this exciting new project.

  • Iowa Health Science Work-Based Learning Toolkit - The Department partnered with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Health Care Association, Iowa Intermediary Network, and Northeast Iowa Community College to begin exploring options for expanding the quantity, quality, and ease of access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities within the health science industry for Iowa students and job seekers.
  • Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Work-Based Learning Toolkit - The Department partnered with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), Elevate Advanced Manufacturing, the Iowa Intermediary Network, and Northeast Iowa Community College to develop resources to expand the work-based learning opportunities within the advanced manufacturing industry for Iowa students and job seekers.

Facilitator Trainings and Resources


The Iowa Department of Education is partnered with the Next Generation Sector Partnership team of national consultants to offer a series of Iowa-exclusive webinars about their successful model of industry-driven, community supported sector partnerships. The recorded sessions are available below.

Session #1 - What They Are and Why Now (1:31:15)
Lays the foundation of what Next Generation Partnerships are and "why" they matter now more than ever, including hearing from a business champion from an established sector partnership program. The session also highlights Next Gen’s deliberate integration of workforce and economic development approaches and outcomes, as well as the critical success factors of “industry-driven, community-supported.” The session concludes with a preview of disciplined, step-by-step process of building Next Gen Sector Partnerships.

Session #2 - Preparing to Launch and Launching a Next Generation Sector Partnership (1:30:52)
Dives into the first three steps to launching a Next Generation Sector Partnership: Building Your Regional Support Team, Defining the Scope of Industry Focus, and Preparing to Launch, including an understanding of the step-by-step process to launch Next Gen Sector Partnerships.

Session #3 - The Launch and Afterparty (1:31:12)
Learn about the launch and steps immediately following the launch to organize the afterparty. Focus given to building and supporting action teams around the priorities business leaders identify at the launch and how to get business leaders to step up and own these priorities. Responsiveness and follow through after the launch are two critical elements to success in the long run.

Session #4 - Sustaining and Evolving (1:26:21)
After covering what it takes to launch a partnership and organize the immediate aftermath, this session gets into how to keep partnerships going over time. It also covers how Next Gen Sector Partnerships integrate as a way of doing business across workforce, education, and economic development partners.

Session #5 - FAQ and What to Watch For (1:35:56)
Covers the most frequently asked questions received about Next Generation Sector Partnerships across the country and common pitfalls to lookout for!


A collaborative effort by the state to provide guidance and training on sector partnerships has resulted in the development of a series of downloadable toolkit publications. These toolkits are not exhaustive, but rather aimed at preparing the state and regions to make data-informed critical decisions throughout the three developmental stages of planning, emerging, and sustaining sector partnerships. Each toolkit covers a wide range of topics, advice, real world examples, and supplemental materials that will be helpful at each of these three stages.

Sector Partnership Report
National Governors Association Publications
Sector Partnership in Iowa
Future Ready Iowa