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The Reemployment Dollar Menu:  New York State’s Investment Yields Great Value

 

Lawrence C. found himself without a job.  The collapse of the financial sector (and related industries) had affected him and 868,000 other fellow New Yorkers.  New York State’s Workforce Development System was overwhelmed and ARRA funds helped provide additional staffing for New York’s bustling One-Stop Centers.

 

With some One-Stop Centers seeing over 700 customers daily, New York’s Labor Department was concerned about providing quality services to customers like Lawrence C.  New York got SMART – literally.  With a financial investment of less than the cost of a cheeseburger per customer, New York’s SMART 2010 job lead service was launched. 

                                   

New York State has partnered with Burning Glass Technologies in developing their existing recruiting tool to work for New York State’s unemployed.  This technology has been successfully used by the private sector and has now been transformed into a job lead tool for job seeking customers.  Minnesota’s experience with this technology, helped New York State plan their SMART 2010 pilot.  One Stop staff submit customer resumes to SMART2010 where they are then “matched” with existing job openings in the New York Job Bank.  The SMART 2010 system goes beyond traditional job matching technology.  SMART doesn’t focus only on keywords; it understands the knowledge, skills and abilities that people acquire over their entire work history.  SMART then rates the selected job leads (using a five star rating system) and emails these leads directly to the customer’s email in-box.  Customers can read a brief description of the job lead and click on a hyperlink that provides additional detail on the job opening.

 

  •  To date, over 65,000 resumes have been submitted to the SMART 2010 system.  Pilot surveys have revealed that:
  • 67% of customers felt that they have received unique job leads – jobs they hadn’t seen publicized anywhere else.
  • 73% of customers reported receiving at least one good job lead from SMART.
  • 18% of customers reported that SMART 2010 was the impetus for them to revise their resume.
  • 2% of customers reported getting hired for jobs they applied for through SMART 2010 recommended job leads. 

 

Although this number may sound low, if applied across the full population of unemployed job seekers in NY, this translates into 16,000 job placements.

 

SMART 2010 has also helped New York’s One-Stop staff to spend less time on “job matching” and more time on helping customers understand the existing labor market, update and edit resumes, and consider training programs.  SMART helps to teach customers that in New York’s current economy, “It’s not who you are – it’s what you do.”  Through working with SMART2010, One Stop career staff are helping customers look at their transferrable skills instead of only their professional job titles.  SMART 2010 helps highlight various career paths of one simple job title.  For example, a customer with the job title of a Financial Analyst could potentially have four or five different career paths.  SMART 2010 can show career advisors where financial analysts “have been” and where their careers could potentially go.  SMART 2010 helps reveal various career lattices that could make job transitions easier for customers.

 

The SMART 2010 system is also helping New York look at its existing labor talent pool.  SMART 2010’s artificial intelligence compares the skills of customers submitted to the system from resumes with skills requested by employers listed in job postings.  SMART 2010’s innovative technology can help New York market its talent pool and also work with local areas to address any existing skills shortages. 

 

Although the SMART 2010 pilot has only been in operation for six months, New York is already seeing the benefits of investing in this technology.  Long term plans include fully integrating the technology with other job search tools.  Feedback from customers and career advisors has shown New York that for less than the cost of a cheeseburger a customer, new technologies can yield great results.

                       

 

Integrating Unemployment Insurance and Employment Services IT systems is an excellent way for states to spend their Recovery Act RES funds.  Such integration can enhance the work of both services and yield tremendous benefits through shared access to relevant information about clients.  I’m writing today to let you know how we’ve done this system integration in Utah and how we’ve overcome obstacles along the way.  

 

Our RES Technology Upgrade Project has been developed over the course of 2009 and 2010, and it has required hard work and critical thinking. The process began in January 2009, when I attended the “Re-Employment Works!” Summit in Baltimore, Maryland.  Ideas were discussed there about how to integrate Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Employment Services (ES).  The conversations ranged from technical integration to brick and mortar integration.  The merits of self-service delivery verses face-to-face service delivery were also actively debated.

 

In March 2009, DOL sent out TEGL 14-08, giving states spending guidance for ARRA funds.  Pages 21 and 22 of TEGL 14-08 authorized states to spend funds on statistical modeling and upgrading information technology. That provided me a legal basis for proposing the RES Technology Upgrade Project to Utah’s Department of Workforce Services (DWS) management, and they approved the project.

 

A bit of background on Utah: our DWS manages several programs, including UI and ES.  UI is centralized in one location, and UI’s services are delivered to claimants by telephone and web. UI’s computer application system is called CUBS. Employment Services, on the other hand, are provided at over 30 Employment Centers located around the state.  The ES computer application system is called UWORKS.  The ES service delivery model is face-to-face, but telephone and web support are also available.

 

As with any large-scale integration project, the RES Technology Upgrade Project ran into some obstacles. To begin with, CUBS and UWORKS are programmed in different software languages.  Territory, turf, organizational culture, and personalities also presented some issues.  However, the biggest challenge was focusing limited resource availability, while facing heavy workload demands.

 

We’ve met many of these challenges through a clear project vision and top-level management support, as well as strong project leadership and competent technical support.  Fortunately for us, Utah’s Department of Workforce Services has a close working relationship with Utah’s Department of Technology Services, which has been another key factor in our success so far.  The project’s implementation date is June 2010.

 

Key deliverables of the project include the following:

?        Applicable information obtained by CUBS during the initial claims process will automatically populate UWORKS.

?        The CUBS system will be modified to capture Veteran’s information, including Veteran status, spouse of a Veteran, and service dates, as appropriate. This information will be transferred to UWORKS.

?        UWORKS data gathering processes will be modified for UI claimants to ensure employers see claimant’s qualifications.

?        AutoCoder web service software will supply ONET code information to LMI, and LMI will use this ONET code information to provide relevant labor market information to UI claimants in their personal web “My UI Account” page.

?        Profiled UI claimants and REA UI claimants will be required to complete a UI Orientation & Assessment.

?        At initial claim filing, all UI claimants (including Profiled claimants) will be categorized based on TEGL 14-08 classifications.

?        The “My UI Account” page will replace the existing CUBS verification page.

 

As you can imagine, these changes will result in streamlined information flows and enhanced productivity in both the UI and ES programs. We are excited to move forward and implement these deliverables for unemployed claimants in Utah.

 

What challenges would you expect to encounter if you were considering a similar IT integration project in your state? What lessons could you apply from our experience in Utah? What lessons might we learn from your experiences in this field? What different deliverables might you want to include?

 

I look forward to discussing this with any of you that wish to post comments on this blog.

 

Best regards,

 

Charles Amonett

UI Program Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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