Workforce Development

The role of associations in workforce development

The state of workforce development is an important matter for all industries and associations. Recent studies indicate concerns about workforce preparedness in the United States and the degree to which traditional workforce training institutions provide adequate training in a changing workforce landscape. Associations are essential providers of professional education and credentials, and they must continue to play a leading role in workforce training and development.

The Role of Associations in Workforce Development study aims to

  • provide critical business intelligence on the current market forces shaping workforce training.
  • describe how both individual learners and employers perceive associations as effectively addressing the workforce development needs of their respective disciplines, professions, or industries

The ASAE Foundation enlisted NORC at the University of Chicago to perform the research in four phases:

Phase I: Environmental Scan

The initial phase of the study, the environmental scan, provided organizations with critical business intelligence on the market forces currently affecting workforce training. Researchers examined recent studies on workforce development across industries and within the association sphere to identify opportunities for associations. Phase I included a literature review, feedback from association professionals, and a SWOT analysis.

Phase II: Association Survey

Developed with insights gained from the environmental scan, the survey will collect data from a diverse group of associations. The focus will include, among other topics, the workforce development currently being offered, the extent to which associations track relevant topics, technology use in workforce development, and actions associations take to understand concerns relative to skills development their training should address.

Phase III: Employer Survey

Understanding employer perceptions is critical in helping associations develop successful workforce development training programs. To better understand the role of workforce development training by associations, researchers will conduct an employer survey. Employers will be asked about their awareness of training programs offered by associations, how costs are covered, and what types of skills they might be looking for associations to develop.

Phase IV: Employee Survey

Finally, researchers will conduct a survey of employee learners. This survey will provide invaluable insight into the effectiveness of training available to them, perceptions of training experiences, costs associated with training, and employees’ and learners’ perceptions of overall training needs.

For more information about this research, email

additional publications and resources

Are Associations Effectively Supporting Workforce Preparedness?

The Future of Work

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