Building a stronger, more seamless workforce system of support for unemployed and underemployed
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Public Law 113-128, became effective July 1, 2015, and redefined the role of local and state agencies in developing a strong workforce system. Now, human service agencies were paired with economic development organizations and community colleges to create a “workforce system” that provided seamless service delivery to those in need. WIOA required alignment of education, training, economic development, and regional services for the first time. At the local level, this meant that organizations with disparate missions and measures now had a common set of goals. The Profile Team was hired to help these organizations come together under a common organization and develop a strategy to improve the regional workforce system’s service delivery and resources.
The Profile Team began the engagement by interviewing all organizations considered part of the workforce system. These organizations included local departments of housing, local departments of social services, legal aid bureaus, employers, workforce centers, mental health centers, unemployment offices, rehabilitation services, and departments of aging. These interviews focused on assessing the organization’s perspective on the new framework and their ideas for change. The Profile Team also conducted surveys and literature searches to create information for the strategic planning process. We set up a calendar of quarterly meetings at which the partners gathered to discuss topics of common concern. We brought in guest speakers to talk through specific issues, such as working with justice-involved job seekers, and raise awareness about resources in the community.
During the quarterly meetings, the Profile Team facilitated the group in developing a year-long Action Plan. Because of efficient planning and communication, this plan was developed in one two-hour session. Each year a new action plan is developed based on the Local Workforce Plan. These plans have resulted in many beneficial programs to include the development of career pathways (wioapartners.com), a system-wide awards program, a job shadowing initiative, and a training program to improve front-line workers’ customer service skills.
In the course of this work, the Profile Team collaborated closely with agencies, community colleges, and school systems to develop published pathways to high-demand career fields. We also improved communication among agencies and saw an increase in referrals and collaboration between organizations. Partner organizations reported that clients are more successful at getting services they need, that partner agencies are working more seamlessly, and that there is better exchange of information. The Profile Team was retained for a second five-year contract to continue working with partners to build a stronger workforce system.