Empowering an Industry-Led Approach
By Melissa Deets, Workforce Solutions Specialist, Monster Government Solutions
The single most important strategic shift from Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is employer engagement.
It’s easy to think of “job openings” as a static list of opportunities that can be filled by raising our collective foundational skills, but the reality is so much more dynamic and complex. One of the main goals of WIOA is to ensure employers have access to the talent they need to compete in today’s global economy, and the numbers paint a challenging picture of the skills gap we’re facing as a nation.
The most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a near record number of available jobs in the U.S., and yet hiring remains stagnant. When combined with the projected gap of 11 million U.S. workers with postsecondary education by 2022, it’s clear that we don’t have an opportunity problem, we have a skills shortage. The only way we’re going to close the gap is to take an industry-led approach where our workforce strategies start with employer needs and work back, built on a foundation of increased collaboration and data sharing.
Business services have always been a critical function of Workforce Development Boards (WDBs), but WIOA is forcing us to take our game to the next level. It starts with building closer, longer-term relationships with employers in our regions. Job fairs and employer surveys are great, but real change requires an ongoing dialogue with regional companies in high-growth sectors. Every community is unique, and it’s critical that business leaders have a seat at the workforce development table to clearly communicate the specialized skills they need to be competitive and drive local economies forward.
To encourage industry collaboration, offer incentives for getting involved - like access to regional talent pools, online employment portals to post jobs, labor market information and specialized training programs in their sectors. It’s about building an ongoing dialogue where employers are treated like valued customers. Business leaders understand the challenge they are facing and want to be involved in creating solutions, and it’s our job to make engagement as easy as possible. Emerging case management and CRM solutions can help WDBs track the talent needs of individual businesses, proactively deliver relevant services, and track progress in real-time.
On that note, we can’t forget about the data. WDBs have access to more labor market information than ever before, and now we actually have analytics tools that can make sense of it. From identifying current skills gaps to predicting the talent needs of the future, real-time labor intelligence is providing WDBs with the insight they need to directly align workforce development strategies to the unique hiring goals of local employers. When this big picture data is combined with “boots on the ground” insight from industry leaders, it creates continuous feedback loops that are essential to evolving training, education, and development programs to support the most pressing regional talent needs.
This strategy is industry-led, but we’ll only achieve success through close collaboration with educational partners. It’s no coincidence that the University of Maryland offers a Masters Degree in Cybersecurity in the heart of our national security infrastructure, or that Rutgers University offers an MBA in Pharmaceutical Management near the epicenter of the pharmaceutical industry. WIOA is asking us to take this same approach across community college and professional training programs. Build development strategies that directly map back to the needs of local high growth industries, using WIOA-recommended tactics like incumbent worker training and Registered Apprenticeships. Employers are incentivized to take action through increased reimbursement rates for on-the-job and customized training. Through increased collaboration and data sharing, employers gain access to a more qualified talent pool and educational organizations benefit from greater demand for these specialized, region-specific programs.
Most importantly, this industry-led approach leads to stronger regional economies and keeps the U.S. competitive globally. Stay tuned for my next post to learn more about the technology and data sharing best practices that are driving the WIOA era of workforce collaboration!
For more on WIOA and how Monster Government Solutions visit our
Monster WIOA Resource Center.