Wisconsin is in the middle of America’s mission to rebuild its workforce, literally and figuratively. Ranked 24th in the country with an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent, it is better off than California and Nevada, yet also has 35,000 unfilled positions.
In response to these challenges, Skills Wisconsin was formed with the help of a $6MM grant for the Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation fund. Skills Wisconsin is a consortium of eleven workforce development boards, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Department of Workforce Development, and Wisconsin Technical College System.
The goals of Skills Wisconsin are to increase placement outcomes by moving large caseloads of job-seekers into gainful employment and self-sufficiency, improve the matching of training offerings with business hiring needs, and improve the tracking of service delivery metrics and management of business customer information in real-time, to more effectively serve individual firms and industry cluster partnerships.
The consortium faces a common set of challenges: 1) lack of real-time labor market and employer data and a way to manage it, 2) coordination of business services units among workforce development areas and economic development organizations 3) the translation of employer hiring needs into training programs. In order to address these challenges as well as meet the goals of the Skills Wisconsin project, the consortium recognized they needed a state-of-the-art technology platform to support this effort.
In 2012, Skills Wisconsin partnered with Launchpad to develop and deploy a customized version of its Workforce Development App on the Salesforce.com platform. In addition to deploying the latest in cloud, social and mobile technology, Launchpad is providing business services training to staff and management consulting to the executive teams. The Workforce application includes modules for managing job seekers and employers, job and worker skill searching and inventory, and training management.
Additionally, part of Skills Wisconsin’s mission is to align Workforce Development with Economic Development. Because WEDC is also using the Salesforce platform, Launchpad will be able to connect the two systems allowing for real-time data sharing of employers with upcoming hiring needs and the availability of certain skills. This system-wide collaboration will allow both agencies to coordinate more effectively in serving the private sector.
With the first five of the Workforce Development Boards on the platform and six more coming online in July, Skill Wisconsin is poised to use a dynamic system that decreases their response time to employers’ needs and automatically gathers data on labor market skills gaps and needs to inform training programs.
Business Services Units are also sing Chatter to stay connected, helping them to coordinate among service areas. Skills Wisconsin will also have a dynamic set of dashboard reports, providing them greater visibility into activity from the statewide level down to the local level. This real-time data will enable them to respond to employers’ hiring and training needs more quickly, as well make strategic investments in new training programs that can have a greater impact.