Enhancing Conversations Between Employers and Workforce Professionals

Posted October 14, 2020
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Young person working while wearing a face mask

A new report fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion cap­tures the kinds of con­ver­sa­tions that work­force devel­op­ment pro­fes­sion­als have with employ­ers to learn about the types of job and train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to young people.

The pub­li­ca­tion, pro­duced by The Aspen Institute’s Eco­nom­ic Oppor­tu­ni­ties Pro­gram is based on a sur­vey of 210 indi­vid­u­als who focus on con­nect­ing peo­ple with job, edu­ca­tion­al and train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Par­tic­i­pants were based in one of three cities — Cleve­land, Indi­anapo­lis and Philadel­phia — all of which are served by the Casey Foundation’s Gen­er­a­tion Work™.

What the sur­vey revealed

The sur­vey, con­duct­ed in late 2019 and ear­ly 2020, found that most respon­dents reg­u­lar­ly asked employ­ers for basic details, such as their num­ber of job open­ings, wage data, and ben­e­fits infor­ma­tion. At the same time, a major­i­ty of respon­dents report­ed that they nev­er, almost nev­er or only some­times asked employ­ers about:

  • goals for diver­si­ty and equi­ty, in regard to age, gen­der or race and ethnicity;
  • guide­lines for flex­i­ble sched­ul­ing for work­ers who are in school or engaged in oth­er coursework;
  • data on how long employ­ees are retained in jobs and why work­ers leave jobs;
  • infor­ma­tion about how wages and ben­e­fits employ­ers offer com­pare to oth­ers in their fields;
  • poli­cies around pro­mo­tions and rais­es; and
  • approach­es for coach­ing, men­tor­ing and train­ing workers.

Ask­ing about such issues can help deter­mine if employ­ers offer oppor­tu­ni­ties that are aligned with young people’s needs and career goals, accord­ing to the report. These inquiries are often help­ful to employ­ers, too, who may rec­og­nize gaps in their prac­tices that can under­mine their goals. For instance, ask­ing employ­ers why work­ers tend to leave jobs may, in fact, force them to address issues around sched­ul­ing, pay, train­ing and oth­er poli­cies that lead to low­er retention.

It’s impor­tant to under­stand what con­ver­sa­tions are tak­ing place between work­force devel­op­ment prac­ti­tion­ers and employ­ers,” says Alli­son Ger­ber, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion. It’s through this com­mu­ni­ca­tion and rela­tion­ship-build­ing that work­force pro­fes­sion­als can iden­ti­fy and pro­mote employ­ment and train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties that are ben­e­fi­cial for youth and young adults. This is espe­cial­ly crit­i­cal today, as the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has hit young peo­ple hard.”

Engag­ing employ­ers more effectively

Gen­er­a­tion Work part­ners have imple­ment­ed — or are seek­ing to imple­ment — strate­gies that can help work­force groups build clos­er rela­tion­ships with employ­ers, accord­ing to the report. This involves devel­op­ing train­ings and work­shops for employ­ers on var­i­ous top­ics, includ­ing the adop­tion of race and equi­ty prac­tices, and the cre­ation of new tools for work­force prac­ti­tion­ers. In the Cleve­land area, for instance, local part­ners pro­duced a doc­u­ment that includes key ques­tions work­force pro­fes­sion­als should ask employ­er part­ners — includ­ing inquiries about sched­ul­ing, men­tor­ing and training.

We are glad to see our part­ners tak­ing crit­i­cal steps to engage employ­ers more effec­tive­ly, even if their approach­es are new or in their ear­ly stages,” Ger­ber says. We hope work­force pro­fes­sion­als will review this report and these prac­tices and be inspired to devel­op tac­tics that work for them.”

Learn more about the Gen­er­a­tion Work

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