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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.