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The Sustainability Planning Tool is a set of worksheets that educators and employers can use to begin creating a long-term plan to maintain

and expand upon an initiative focused on the career advancement of incumbent workers. Developed from the practical experience of employer/educator partnerships funded through the Jobs to Careers initiative, this tool is relevant to workforce development efforts that are concerned with sustainability. An explicit focus of Jobs to Careers is to continue innovations and increased access to training opportunities made possible through the initiative.

The emphasis on sustainability is an ongoing concern for many workforce development practitioners, who want to know how the methods and practices developed during the course of a project can continue to improve the advancement opportunities of employees beyond those immediately targeted for services. Project managers can use the Sustainability

Planning Tool to engage senior leaders and others on the project team in identifying aspects of their work that can and should be sustained, and in identifying sources of revenue to sup- port the work going forward. Fiscal managers can obtain estimates of costs associated with sustaining particular components of the work.

Work teams can develop overarching plans and goals for moving their work forward.

Use this tool to engage senior leaders in your organization in a discussion about sustaining your project. As you work through the questions, think about the elements of yourcurrent project that you intend to sustain as they are and those that may change. Begin with a discussion about your vision for frontline employee development. Then work through each individual question in the chart. Be sure to think about the budgetary impact of each element you plan to sustain.

How To Use the Sustainability Tool

A project team needs to accomplish two activities before using this worksheet:

  1. Through reflection on their project progress, the team identifies what elements of a project are effective.
  2. The team reflects on the metrics they have used to determine the value of the project to the organization or organizations in the partnership.

The second answer is necessary because the tool asks the project team to quantify the cost of each plan element they wish to sustain. The organizations in a partnership can only commit to sustaining the project and its costs when the costs can be compared with the project’s value.

Having answered these questions, the next step is to begin using the Sustainability Planning Tool

Worksheet 1 icon.

Worksheet 1: Setting the Vision

A clear vision is essential as a basis for determining what needs to be sustained. The worksheet asks the project team members to:

  • Establish their vision for employee advancement;
  • Identify what strategies they will pursue to achieve that vision; and
  • Identify how they will support those strategies.
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Worksheet 2: Implementing the Vision

Next, analyze elements of the project design and identify those elements that they intend to sustain as they are and those elements that may change. The elements in the worksheet include:

  • Specific employees who will be the focus of work going forward. Often the goal is to broaden a project to include more employees and those in different job categories. In other cases, the organization may wish to target employee groups based on the needs of the labor market for more skilled workers in a particular job.
  • Training strategies to be used, to ensure that this program is accessible to the workforce and sustainable by the partners involved. The strategies include the specific combination of work-based learning, classroom-based training, and other training tools.
  • Other strategies that will support effective training. Any working adult’s ability to complete a training program depends upon the personal and financial resources available. Entry-level workers may need additional help, including employee coaching, mentoring, and employee incentives, as well as the institutional policies that support accessibility, including financial assistance and release time. Finally, employee training often puts new demands on frontline managers; they may need additional training themselves in order to help with the overall success of an initiative.
  • Potential funding sources. The worksheet requires a calculation of the cost of each element. Also, the team must identify potential funding sources, such as employer support, external grants, and financial aid.
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Worksheet 3: Sustainability Work Plan

Finally, based on the first two worksheets, develop a specific sustainability work plan. For each action step in the plan, identify the deliverables, a due date for completion of the step, and who will be responsible.


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