What do job-seekers in the Richmond region need in order to find a well-paying job and thrive in that position? And what do local employers need as they look to hire prepared and capable employees?
A bold and spirited group of leaders has come together to tackle these questions and develop a more seamless workforce development system – one that addresses the barriers most often identified by job seekers and their prospective employers. This Workforce Development Coalition recently debuted four common goals that will guide their actions as they move this system forward.
Goal #1: Access
- Both job-seekers and employers need employment services that are easy to find and navigate.
“If people can’t find us, what value are we adding?” said Brian Davis, Executive Director of the Capital Region Workforce Partnership. “How can we improve access to the multitude of services that are available in the region?”
To facilitate easier access, the coalition is looking to develop a centralized network – one place that job-seekers can go to coordinate with a host of different services, and one place that employers can go to effectively share their job listing information.
The coalition is looking at other ways to simplify access too, such as creating a workforce hotline so that, instead of searching for the right phone number for the right service at the right location, job-seekers can call one phone number and be directed to the resource that would be most appropriate for them.
Goal #2: Engagement
- Job-seekers need information to meet them where they are.
- Employers need workers who meet their job-specific training and hiring needs.
To get more job-seekers onto a career path quickly, and to effectively fill the positions that employers urgently need filled, the coalition is exploring new strategies to reach out to both job-seekers and employers.
“We know how much demand there is for trades, but young people are not naturally going into the trades right now,” said Elizabeth Creamer, Vice President of Workforce Development and Credential Attainment with Community College Workforce Alliance. “It is simply not enough to work traditional job fairs at high schools, so we are exploring taking our services into a wider variety of neighborhoods, using our local learning labs to get into schools and community organizations, and using short-term, hands-on career coaching services.”
Additionally, by reaching out to employers to learn about their training and hiring needs, the coalition can develop focused trainings so job-seekers are better equipped to meet those needs.
Goal #3: Readiness
- Job-seekers need support in building job skills, as well as addressing potential barriers and challenges to employment.
- Employers need to understand job-seekers’ challenges, barriers and needs, so they can work jointly to address them.
To be ready for a job, job-seekers have basic needs that must be met: electricity to power their alarm clock, transportation to get to work, childcare for their kids while they’re away. This coalition aims to work with service providers and employers to address those barriers.
Employers also need job-seekers to be prepared with soft skills like communication, conflict resolution and phone etiquette. “What we hope to do is create a shared soft-skills curriculum that every single worker in this region can engage in, no matter what program they choose,” said Audrey Trussell, Vice President of Community Impact with United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg.
Goal #4: Retention
- Employees need support to address ongoing challenges and engage in ongoing professional development to stay on or move up a career pathway.
- Employers need strategies to address specific challenges their employees face – strategies such as new policies, benefits, mindsets and flexible scheduling.
“Our focus here is really about our need to support folks to stay on and move up a career pathway once they are on the job,” said John Dougherty, Vice President of Community Workforce with Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia. The coalition is looking at success coaching models that will support both hiring managers and employees in navigating the challenges that may arise as employees continue on their journey up the career pathway.