Connecting Workforce Professionals With Local Employers for Sustainable Employment

Posted January 8, 2020, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Training professionals helps a job seeker learn new skills.

A new tool kit, fund­ed in part by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, guides work­force devel­op­ment pro­fes­sion­als on build­ing ties with employ­ers so they can work col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to help peo­ple find sus­tain­able employ­ment and meet local hir­ing needs.

Draw­ing on the expe­ri­ence of twelve work­force orga­ni­za­tions in Chica­go, the Reimag­in­ing Employ­er Engage­ment tool kit pro­vides work­force pro­fes­sion­als with resources to expand their capac­i­ty and demon­strate the val­ue their ser­vices bring to employ­ers. The tool kit, released by Reimag­ine Retail Chicagoland, a col­lab­o­ra­tive employ­ment ini­tia­tive fund­ed by the Aspen Insti­tute with sup­port from the Wal­mart Foun­da­tion, focus­es on retail and relat­ed busi­ness­es, though its lessons can be applied to any industry.

It’s crit­i­cal that work­force train­ing pro­fes­sion­als show employ­ers the val­ue of their tal­ent devel­op­ment ser­vices in order to increase employ­er hir­ing and reten­tion of untapped pop­u­la­tions,” says Patrice Cromwell, Casey’s direc­tor of youth eco­nom­ic opportunity.

The tool kit starts with rec­om­men­da­tions for work­force pro­fes­sion­als on how to build a net­work of employ­ers to part­ner with and sug­ges­tions for research­ing local job trends, including:

  • use social media, such as LinkedIn, Face­book, Twit­ter and Insta­gram to stay con­nect­ed with employ­ers and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment groups;
  • devel­op rela­tion­ships with local cham­bers of com­merce and key busi­ness and gov­ern­ment lead­ers who can pro­vide infor­ma­tion on local hiring;
  • read local news­pa­pers and busi­ness jour­nals that announce job open­ings, indus­try trends and oth­er work­force news; and
  • review employ­ment data from local and fed­er­al agen­cies, such as Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Next, the pub­li­ca­tion offers tips for pitch­ing work­force ser­vices to employ­ers, including:

  • focus on the val­ue your orga­ni­za­tion pro­vides employ­ers, such as recruit­ment ser­vices and train­ing, and not just how the orga­ni­za­tion helps job seekers;
  • quan­ti­fy your val­ue and com­mu­ni­cate it to employ­ers by ana­lyz­ing how many hours — and how much mon­ey — they can save by using your services;
  • avoid using work­force jar­gon with employ­ers, such as soft skills,” wrap-around ser­vices” or upskilling,” and opt for plain lan­guage; and
  • devel­op a script for com­mu­ni­cat­ing to employ­ers that explains the group’s ser­vices and empha­sizes the impor­tance of qual­i­ty jobs. 

Final­ly, the doc­u­ment pro­vides guid­ance on main­tain­ing rela­tion­ships with employ­ers, such as:

  • invite employ­ers to key events, includ­ing board meet­ings, galas and train­ings — and allow them to speak and participate;
  • pro­vide employ­ers time­ly infor­ma­tion about their indus­try, the local job mar­ket and com­peti­tor prac­tices; and
  • rec­og­nize employ­ers by send­ing thank you notes, hon­or­ing them with awards and pro­mot­ing their accom­plish­ments on social media.

We believe this tool kit will be a good launch­ing point for work­force devel­op­ment pro­fes­sion­als in their efforts to build strong con­nec­tions with their local busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties,” Cromwell says. Col­lab­o­ra­tion with work­force pro­fes­sion­als can open up con­ver­sa­tions with employ­ers on job qual­i­ty and work­place prac­tices — top­ics that can help them attract and retain tal­ent as well as increase employ­ee moti­va­tion and productivity.”

Learn about a nation­al youth work­force appren­tice­ship pro­gram fund­ed by the Casey Foundation

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