chapter  6
26 Pages

Nuts and Bolts I: How States’ Programs Worked

The Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) programs in Texas and Wisconsin demonstrate how initiatives are institutionalized where a high degree of coordination exists between the public and private sectors. These states were selected for their differences: organized labor plays a significant role in training, placement, and the working experiences of tradeswomen, while organized labor is much less influential in Texas, which is a so-called

“right to work” state. Moreover, undocumented labor plays a much more influential role in Texas, particularly in construction trades, than it does in Wisconsin. Finally, the state of Wisconsin has a reputation for pursuing pro­ gressive social policy, both statewide and locally, and coordination efforts between state and local entities is facilitated by a high degree of communica­ tion as well as geographical proximity of major metropolitan entities: Madi­ son and Milwaukee are much closer than are Austin and Dallas. In Texas, an absence of geographical proximity also leads to more local administration and control and less statewide coordination, which is as much an administra­ tive necessity as it is a preference. Studying the implementation of similar programs in these two contexts should lead to interesting lessons that could inform other states’ efforts. Both Project TExAS and Wisconsin’s NTO Tool Kit trained and placed non-college women in desirable skilled trades, and provided employers with well-trained workers. In this chapter, case study analysis reveals how two very different contexts helped to determine whether these training programs were institutionalized, or not. Among O’Farrell’s grantee best practices, which are discussed in detail below, two emerged as most predictive of long-term success for state programs: leadership buy-in and networking. Long-term institutionalization occurred where grant-funded projects were part of interactive networks of employers, unions, and public sector partners. Coordination with employers and unions helped training pro­ viders meet the needs of their female clients and their local labor markets, as was the case in Wisconsin. Institutionalization failed to occur where such networks did not exist, and in fact, where a negative perception of govern­ ment involvement prevailed, which was the case in Texas, where local suc­ cesses remained local.3