Workforce Development Best Practices in Providing Virtual Services to Jobseekers
As cities leverage opportunities for virtual workforce development, American Job Centers (AJCs) provide critical assistance to customers including jobseekers, employers, community partners and internal staff across the United States. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, service delivery methods have had to shift to largely a virtual format. With a substantial rise in unemployment and the growing need to provide employment and training services to unemployed and underemployed individuals, we can all agree that AJCs are a lifeline.
Most AJCs are now offering innovative programs and services in online and remote formats for employment-related services such as outreach, assessments, case management, training, referrals, career counseling, etc. In this blog, we will discuss these formats in more detail and lay out all the best practices in virtual services for you to use as a guide to ensure your clients’ job-seeking needs are met in the most innovative ways.
These are some of the questions that were top of mind while writing this blog: How can AJCs efficiently and effectively service the millions of unemployed and displaced workers now? What are the best communication methods we can use to connect with clients and jobseekers? How can we help clients access technology-based tools to assist in their job search? Keep reading and these questions will be answered.
Experts say coping with and recovering from the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic will require a new, tech-forward approach to regional hiring and workforce development. In response, AJCs are providing more flexibility in offering program services by using online and virtual options for education and training for various workforce programs. Digital tools, software and online resources are critical in providing virtual services while still meeting all the eligibility requirements associated with WIOA.
In this blog, you will learn more about the following:
- Virtual Services Best Practices
- Jobseeker Top Tech Tools
- Innovative Program Design Elements
Virtual Services Best Practices
In recent months, we wrote an in-depth blog about providing virtual workforce services in this trying time. Here is a link to that best virtual practices blog and below is a list of the many best practices we covered as this information continues to be relevant while we continue to navigate meeting the needs of jobseekers during the pandemic.
- Virtual outreach
- Virtual WIOA enrollment
- Virtual Case Management
- Call center implementation to provide better connectivity and availability
- Electronic document conversion and transmission and e-signature software
- Obtaining equipment for clients, such as laptops, tablets, or Internet hotspots
- E-Learning: real-time and recorded trainings and workshops
- Virtual orientation meetings and client check-ins
- Virtual job fairs and recruitment events
- Skill assessments, WorkKeys, TABE testing
- Coordination of jobseeker-employer interviews
- Employer support
- Partner webinars
- Professional development for workforce system staff
“Having virtual solutions as part of your workforce strategy going forward is essential. I can attest to the effectiveness of creating and running an innovative, quality virtual program because we did it for the city of Detroit last summer. Our ability to pivot and meet the needs of the ever-changing learning landscape benefited 200 Detroit youth,” explained Will Owen, EDSI Director of Innovation.
**Be sure to read the end of the blog for real-life examples of virtual workforce delivery.**
Top 4 Tech Tools Helping Jobseekers Succeed
1. Video Technology Interview and Training Preparation
Preparing jobseekers to search for and land a job takes a lot of time and effort. As a first order of business, it is important to start preparing them for the interview process. Role-playing is one of the most effective methods for giving jobseekers a real glimpse at what an interview is like. Staff may suggest that they watch interview sessions on YouTube as a starting point in getting familiar with the setting and type of questions asked.
Job Coaches, Instructors and other AJC staff can then conduct a mock interview to prep jobseekers for the real thing. Another effective idea is to organize an interview roundtable event for jobseekers, which features local employers who will facilitate a session in an authentic interview environment. Video conferencing software such as Facetime, Skype, or Zoom makes it easy to connect with jobseekers to do this preparation work. Check out this blog for more ways to equip jobseekers with tools for success and barriers remediation.
Another option is to provide more comprehensive job skills workshops. By doing so, jobseekers are provided with a deeper understanding of workplace expectations and the skills needed to succeed in team-oriented workplaces. Workshops such as You’re HIRED – an exclusive job and life curriculum launched by the workforce and talent consulting firm EDSI – focuses on job readiness, customer service, leadership and life skills. Emphasis is placed on creating a comprehensive, quality work portfolio including resumes, cover letters, recommendations, thank-you notes and other employment support materials.
2. Virtual job fairs and recruitment events
Did you know 80% of employers expect their recruiting efforts to remain virtual for the foreseeable future? That means this format is here to stay, so let’s learn a little more about it.
Workforce programs and CareerLinks may use learning management systems or other online platforms to create an effective forum to host virtual job fairs that connect employers and jobseekers. Besides the cost-savings involved in hosting and attending, there are several benefits to both parties when using this format:
- easily accessible to anyone in any location
- one-on-one meeting options between employer & jobseeker
- seamless application process (jobseeker)
- efficient record keeping (employer)
3. Professional Networking and Mentoring
Social media platforms like LinkedIn offer jobseekers a direct connection to professionals in their desired field, job openings and learning opportunities. Many AJC staff are skilled at helping jobseekers set up a LinkedIn account and they will be able to upload their resume, apply for jobs and start connecting with potential employers seeking to fill open positions. The Groups function on LinkedIn is also a valuable tool used to connect with industry-specific professional organizations or associations that will provide connections to potential hiring opportunities.
Mentoring is another way to strengthen and widen a jobseeker’s network. Many CareerLinks have implemented virtual mentoring programs in which jobseekers are matched with mentors who meet via video conference to discuss topics related to career growth in a framework that is meaningful.
4. Remote Volunteering
Don’t discount the value of volunteering in order for jobseekers to gain relevant industry experience and connect with professionals in the field. Volunteering is also a great way for jobseekers to bridge employment gaps while out of work. Although traditionally an in-person experience, many companies and organizations are now offering meaningful virtual opportunities for people to volunteer. Check out this graphic for a sampling of organizations offering virtual volunteering.
A Million Thanks – Provides support and appreciation to our active and veteran military men and women through sending letters and granting betterment of life wishes, as well as providing higher education scholarships to their children
American Red Cross – Delivers vital services – from providing relief and support to those in crisis, to helping respond in emergencies.
Idealist – Connects millions of idealists – people who want to do good – with opportunities for action and collaboration all over the world.
Be My Eyes – Making the world more accessible to people who are blind or have a low level of vision.
Bookshare – Ebook library that makes reading easier. People with reading barriers can customize their experience and read in ways that work for them.
Crisis Text line –Free, 24/7 support for those in crisis. Text 741741 from anywhere in the US to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. Crisis Text Line trains volunteers to support people in crisis.
Dosomething.org – Sign up to volunteer, help create social change, and take part in civic action campaigns to make real-world impact on causes you care about.
Girls Love Mail – Collects your hand-written letters of encouragement, bundles them, and sends them, via the caring staff at cancer centers, to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.
VolunteerMatch – The web’s largest volunteer engagement network, with more than 117,000 active nonprofits, 150 network partners and 13 million visitors annually. Helps you find local opportunities to help with a variety of projects for charitable organizations.
Create the Good – Connects you with volunteer opportunities to share your life experiences, skills and passions in your community.
United Nations Volunteers – Online platform connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development. Volunteers contribute their skills online to help organizations address development challenges.
Innovative Program Design
Many more special programs and enhancements are available for workforce staff to deliver to clients, depending on the availability of additional funding. At EDSI, we’ve been building in several innovations during this time to help deliver relevant programming. Here are some examples that EDSI has used that workforce staff can consider as they serve clients:
- Industry-specific Boot Camps: Cohort-based curriculum that provides contextualized learning and credentials for high-priority industries.
- Custom curriculum development and Delivery: Synchronous and asynchronous learning solutions designed for individual workforce areas and/or populations, presented in an interactive, dynamic and engaging LMS.
- Family Advocate: Intensive group and one-on-one counseling with an LCSW focusing on trauma-informed care and motivational interviewing.
- Multi-Generational Programs: Breaking the cycle of poverty by simultaneously addressing the needs of parents and their children through shared dinner experiences and customized boot camps for adults and tutoring/career exploration activities for youth.
- BuildEd: An online curriculum that teaches entrepreneurial skills that benefit everyone, not just those interested in starting their own business.
- Virtual Reality: Individual headsets programmed with custom-designed modules that provide different experiences matched to the individual’s responses and preferences.
All these best practices, amazing innovations and initiatives are only effective if people know about them. Cue the sales and marketing team to get the word out!
What are the Results? Real-life Examples of Virtual Workforce Service Delivery Around the Country.
1. The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration hosted a webinar on the WIOA Youth Program during the early months of COVID-19 to highlight the innovative ways to use technology to keep program participants engaged.
2. WIOA Youth Programs in Michigan are working with students via phone and Zoom videoconferencing, email, and Facebook. One of the initiatives involves working with relevant partners to get students access to coursework so out-of-school youth can continue to make progress towards their GED.
3. EDSI contracted with the City of Detroit on the Grow Detroit Young Talent initiative by launching a LMS with customized curriculum to give 200 Detroit youth work experience that combined a custom online curriculum with capstone project, allowing them to interact with local employees in IT, manufacturing, healthcare, construction and customer service. More on this innovative program can be found here.
I hope you find the information in this blog to be helpful in providing a virtual lifeline of tools to jobseekers who desire a self-sufficient future.
To learn more about virtual best practices or talk to an expert about the workforce training we provide to offices and staffs across the U.S., please reach out to us!