cut cordIt’s the harsh truth, but most of today’s data systems for workforce development are actually reducing outcomes not increasing. This is a subject I talk about frequently, and it’s something I am very vocal about.

Back in 2010, I had the opportunity to work with some local workforce agencies on a terrific program to help place welfare recipients into full time jobs. It was something we (Launchpad) were excited about, given our background in private sector staffing, and I had already received commitments from dozens of employers who had open positions.

On the first day of the program I asked our partners for a list of their “job ready” candidates so we could begin to match them up with the job openings. Instead of a list of candidates with resumes or profiles, I got blank stares. This was my first experience to government workforce development, and what I learned is that many workforce agencies data systems for case management are ill-equipped for a demand-driven, employer centric workforce system.

Over the subsequent months, I visited numerous workforce agencies and service providers in the region and noticed another common theme; the case management staff and job development staff operated in silos with separate tracking systems.

The reality is that workforce case management tracking is not complicated. You do an assessment, eligibility, enrollment, participation, activities, exit and follow up. It’s a pretty straight forward process. Job Development is even simpler as you do employer outreach, take job orders, match with available candidates, make referrals, placements and do follow-up.

In my staffing companies, we made sure that these two departments; case management (recruiting) and job development (sales) were seamlessly integrated. Additionally, both departments operated off the same database, so that when we received a new opening from employers we could quickly do a search for job ready candidates.

As we became more sophisticated we developed the ability to do real-time job matching.  The following screen shot illustrates using Launchpad how you can manage this process. 

Job Matching Screenshot

As we move to the demand-driven model of workforce development there has to be a shift in mind-set of workforce agencies away from separate data systems, and work to better integrate case management with business services more. Additionally, there needs to be an increased focus on business services activities and outcomes. Currently, 90% of effort is placed on case management and meeting funder requirements, while only 10% of effort and resources are on placement

It’s important to track common measures, however these are lagging indicators of performance or outputs, and to drive outcomes you need to start tracking leading indicators of performance or inputs. The following are examples of this type of data:

  • How many job ready candidates do we have?
  • What skill categories are they in?
  • How many job openings do we have?
  • What skill categories are they in?

This is a tough discussion for many agencies, particularly at the state level because many state systems lack the flexibility to integrate both case management with business services, in order to facilitate effective labor exchange or job matching. Moving forward, states and local regions must look at how well case management and business services play together and how well their systems facilitate labor exchange.

State managers should go on employer calls with business services staff, learn about their hiring needs, and then see if their data system is able to source job ready candidates that can be referred immediately. If there system is unable to provide a thorough list of job ready candidates, then instead of your system helping to increase outcomes it may be hurting outcomes.

What do you think about how your agency manages job seeker and employer data? How can agencies improve the way case management and business services teams work together?

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