All across the U.S. and beyond, an increase in virtual employment services is happening in countless regions as record numbers of Americans are out of work. Local workforce boards are answering the call for help by identifying innovative ways to help jobseekers gain broader access to stable, long-term opportunities. For workforce center staff members, effectively serving customers – particularly jobseekers – is an ongoing priority.
Federal job training programs have remained a popular go-to strategy for solving skills gaps, a problem that employers frame as a hiring priority. This remains true today, even in current conditions. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing a projected loss of 195 million jobs, the negative impact is affecting jobseekers, especially vulnerable groups of all ages and causing detrimental interruptions to education and training, not to mention a widening of the skills gap. Preparing people to learn and thrive in a post-COVID environment is the current challenge regions are facing.
In the following blog, we’ll review WIOA’s career services delivery methods, dive deeper into the role of a career navigator and share workforce tools and innovations that help to meet the needs of jobseekers in our ever-changing economy.
What is a Career Navigator?
Let’s look more closely at the role workforce professionals – particularly career navigators – play during this time of increased virtual access. To be clear, the role of a career navigator is defined below:
A career navigator’s job is to coach, motivate, support, remove barriers and connect people to resources, tools and training and prepare them to be successful in the workplace. In many regions, career navigators work to bridge the gap between trained workers and unfilled jobs in the skilled trades and other high-growth industries.
Career navigation professionals are trained to recognize the skill sets of each individual client and assist them in understanding job opportunities and trainings that may be required to succeed in the workforce.
Providing Remote Services to Clients
Meeting the remote needs of clients, while meeting WIOA eligibility requirements, has required AJCs to modify their enrollment process by utilizing online resources, digital tools and software. The use of videoconferencing for “face-to-face” interactions with various partners and employers allows customers in affiliate sites and access points to virtually receive services typically only offered onsite at centers. Providing remote services enhances communication opportunities between jobseekers and career navigators or center staff by offering a variety of connection options, whether it be via video, social media, text message, app or specialized software.
To best serve jobseekers and clients remotely, AJC’s should consider adapting – if they haven’t already – their enrollment and service processes by utilizing as many of the above listed digital tools as possible, while continuing to meet all the eligibility requirements associated with WIOA. The following are examples of remote service offerings:
- Coordinating and scheduling online interviews via email, text, video chat or social media
- Conducting virtual job fairs
- Conducting real-time, virtual education and training workshops and webinars (as listed above)
- Conducting online skill assessments
- Utilizing “E-Signature” software to obtain signatures in a secure manner
- Converting documents so that information can be electronically transmitted to customers
- Providing a secure email address for documents to be transmitted
Service Delivery Success Metrics
The success of any service delivery must involve tracking, feedback and performance analytics. WIOA requires workforce development programs to track skills training participation rates using various metrics. State and local workforce development boards, which oversee the implementation of WIOA, are held accountable to six common performance measures, listed below. These serve as indicators to assess the effectiveness of programs in achieving positive outcomes for employers and jobseekers.
Remote career navigation increases the efficiency of the service delivery process by reaching more jobseekers in innovative and convenient ways and allowing them to receive the help they need to increase their skills, become self-sufficient and secure employment.
In the coming months and even years, the workforce system will continue to face unprecedented challenges, serving unimaginable numbers of jobseekers in a constantly changing and uncertain time in history.