Overview of Peer Project

Policy Education, Engagement, & Response (PEER) Project

Policy - We focus on policies which shape and govern Massachusetts' public workforce development system. By policy, we mean the laws and government regulations which determine how workforce development services are designed and delivered, service eligibility, and funds available.

Education - We need more and clearer information on the workforce development system and public policies. The Massachusetts Workforce Alliance (MWA) is not trying to dictate how people think, but rather to provide information and help people to understand and apply their own experiences and perspectives to the realities of the workforce development system.

Engagement - Through PEER we form relationships with education and training practitioners across the state to engage in a dialogue about local challenges, the challenges which the system as a whole faces, and what we can all do about it.

Response - The central focus of PEER is identifying and discussing policy issues that participants see as impeding effective delivery of education, training, and employment services, and then developing recommendations on each issue.

MWA's PEER Project builds the active engagement of community-based workforce develop≠ment practitioners and program participants/graduates in policy issues - in order to build a stronger, more effective workforce development system. The project, launched in 2004, focuses on policy issues by:

(1) educating and learning from practitioners;

(2) building a policy advocacy network with the field; and

(3) developing policy recommendations which reflect the needs of the field.

As a result of the PEER Project, hundreds of practitioners will work with MWA to shape a coherent, broad based public policy agenda. MWA has trained Community Educators across the state -- workforce development practitioners trained to work with other practitioners to deepen understanding of the workforce development system, public policies, and advocacy options to deliver PEER in your area.

We have also developed a website which collects, organizes, and presents policy issues and recommendations identified by practitioners and others. To see the policy-fix ideas that others have contributed, or to add your own, click here.

To join the PEER Project, and welcome your questions and thoughts. To contact MWA call 413-586-1683 or email alex@massworkforcealliance.org. (March, 2005)

Summary of the PEER Training

The core of the PEER Project is an original and innovative three-session training in which Community Educators support small groups of workforce development practitioners to move from initial identification of their key policy concerns, to articulation of policy issues and solutions, to engagement in policy advocacy. Emphasis in the 6 to 8 hours of initial training is on (1) linking practitioners' "on-the-ground expertise" with the design, implementation, and improvement of Massachusetts' public workforce development policies; (2) increasing practitioners' confidence in their abilities in policy and advocacy arenas; and (3) crafting and implementing advocacy plans.

Session One

The first PEER Project Training Session provides practitioners with an overview of the Massachusetts workforce development system, including how workforce development policy is formed and the structure of the system. Community Educators assist practitioners to identify their key workforce development policy concerns. The first Session's format and structure support practitioners to articulate their policy concerns and solutions, and to understand who sets and administers these policies.

Session Two

The second PEER Project Training Session builds practitioners' understanding of their key policy concerns, especially how to consider options for policy change. The Session explores the elements of strategic and successful advocacy, and begins the development of a targeted, strategic advocacy plan for policy change.

Session Three

The third PEER Project Training Session supports practitioners to advocate for the policy change(s) that they've identified, articulated, and strategized about. This Session results in a workplan for implementing advocacy. The Session also focuses on increasing participants' skill and comfort with advocating through viewing and discussing a video developed by MWA and through role play exercises, and ends with agreement between participants and Community Educators about additional support from MWA for their advocacy work.

For more information about the PEER Project, please contact Alex Risley Schroeder at 413-586-1683 or alex@massworkforcealliance.org.