How Your Workforce Agency Will Need To Change To Become Truly Job-Driven #WIOA

WIOA-Bipartisan-GraphicLast week the the Vice President tweeted out the following regarding the signing by The President of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. “Congress passed #WIOA today on behalf of America’s workers. But there’s more to do. Stay tuned for the VP’s report on job-driven training.”

I think we are all excited to see the President sign any piece of legislation these days, let alone such an important bill as the reauthorization of workforce development. My enthusiasm is also tempered with the realization that no one bill or piece of legislation is the holy grail or silver bullet to the problem.

The new Workforce Innovation and opportunity Act does a good job in streamlining the system, reducing complexity, and aligning stakeholders aka “feeders” such as economic development and education. It also places an emphasis on being a demand-driven, job-driven, industry-driven system.

Workforce Development is truly moving into an era where business and employers are at the forefront of all activities and programs.

Why is this so important?

The reality is that the success of workforce development is directly tied to private sector employers willing to play ball. Without their jobs and willingness to hire and train a workforce, WIOA cannot be successful.

So what changes in your people, processes and technology platforms do you need to make to become more demand-driven?

In this 4-Part Series we will discuss key strategies for becoming a truly demand-driven agency. Becoming demand-driven has to go beyond convening industry focus groups and stakeholders, but must extend to your internal procedures and how well you deliver services to businesses.

What would you think if the DMV issued a new piece of legislation touting it’s new “customer friendly” approach but the next time you went into your local DMV office to renew your drivers licenses, the line wrapped around the corner and the service manager went to lunch before they called your number.  Unfortunately, this is how some businesses experience workforce development. Workforce Development must be all about Business Service from the Director and Board, down to case managers and job developers.

4-Part Series On Delivering Effective Business Services

In this series, we’re going to discuss how to retool your processes delivering more effective services to business, and how to truly become demand-driven. We’ll cover concepts such as effective sourcing and job matching, how to make effective referrals, how to manage the placement/ recruiting process and how to secure placements.

Effective Job Matching

A common challenge I hear from workforce development agencies is their lack of ability to effectively job match, which is critical if you want to become a demand-driven agency. I also see agencies get caught in paralysis by analysis either by over complicating job matching, or expecting technology to completely solve the problem, leaving out the human element.

Should workforce development agencies do job matching for employers?  ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY YES!

So what is job matching, and what is the goal? Job matching is very simply taking the job orders your employers have open and doing your best to find 3-5 available candidates for their positions, then presenting these candidates to your client. Here are some tips for effective job matching:

  • Be Fast & Responsive – Employers are typically working with your agency, two other workforce agencies, five recruiters, internal human resources, job board….I think you get the picture. The reality is workforce development agencies are competing with a lot of other entities trying to fill these positions. In order for you to be relevant, you have to be fast.

  • Ability To Search Your Database – The only way to be fast is to have real-time data on your database of job seekers. If your job developers can’t quickly run a search using keywords in your data system to find available candidates, you are already falling behind. Promising employers you want to help them fill their positions, but not being able to follow through will just reinforce employers negative image of workforce development.

  • Integrate Sources of Job Seekers – Many agencies are working with multiple sources of job seekers such as adult, dislocated, TANF recipients, and more. All of these “candidates” should be accessible to job developers via the same database. Employers don’t care where the candidates come from. They just want to know that they can do the job, or be trained to do the job.

  • Less Is Best when searching – A common misconception I hear from agencies and staff is that they want the technology to do the “job matching” for them. The reality is that our challenges are not finding better matches. If job seekers were “perfect” matches, employers would be swooping them up right and left. The challenge is that employers need to be convinced to hire candidates who are close fits, versus perfect fits. When you are searching candidates, you want to make focus on three key areas: 1) do they have relevant skills for the job 2) are they seeking the same amount of pay, 3) can they get to the job.

The following screenshot shows how our clients use Launchpad for workforce development to efficiently and effectively job-match candidates.

Employers typically look for 2-3 things when seeking candidates for their jobs, and surprisingly it’s not the hard skills such as prior experience that is most important, rather the soft-skills and personality fit.

According to a recent Careerbuilder Study “49% of employers plant to train workers who don’t have experience in their industries and hire them in 2014, that figure is up 10% since 2013”. Excel spreadsheets don’t work in this case, and you really want to have an integrated applicant tracking system.

If you focus on matching soft skills and personality fit with the employer, and respond quickly with 3-5 candidates, you will start to see progress with employer engagement and placement outcomes. This is something every workforce development professional from the State Directors down to the local Job Developer can get excited about.

As the country moves to a more demand-driven workforce development system, agencies both public, private and nonprofit will have increased pressure to become more “hands-on” in helping place workers with employers. Those agencies that truly embrace this methodology, redesigning their processes, re-training their staff, and implementing the right technology platforms will have the greatest success in this new area of demand-driven workforce development.

What do you think? How can workforce development agencies improve the way they do job matching?




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