"Onward and Upward!"
Editor’s note: This post is from Tony Dais, Manager of Workforce Information Programs for ETA. It is an introduction to the WIN-WIN Community of Practice.
The WIN-WIN Network CoP (launched on June 8, 2009) is expected to be a win-win for workforce information producers, innovators, suppliers, users and consumers. The site will cater to the special interests of this diverse group and will focus on highlighting the impact of workforce information and intelligence on decision-making. Replicable models, complete with instructions for replication, will also be a focus that hopefully will spread good ideas across the country quickly. The first three “How To” webinars provide insights to tools and approaches that support America’s economic recovery.
The site is very new and so far over 600 individuals have been invited to join the community. If you are interested, please visit the WIN-WIN Community of Practice.
Editor’s note: This post is from Elina Mnatsakanova, Region 6 Federal Project Officer for ETA. It is a report report-out of the “Flexible Service Delivery Options” workshop session at the Region 6 Reemployment Forum.
Flexible Service Delivery Options session of the Region 6 Recovery and Reemployment Forum held on June 11, 2009 discussed models that could be employed to ensure that trainings and services provided to job seekers and employers are aligned with the current local and labor market requirements. Representatives from California local areas and the Employment Development Department (EDD) shared the best practices and identified the challenges encountered during the process. Models discussed during the session have different approaches to the common goal of increasing employability and job retention of California Workers. Riverside County, for example, uses team-based approach, creating teams, each of which focuses on a specific aspect of the process. Representative from EDD informed the attendees of the reorganization and retooling of LMI data that is currently underway. It has created new online tools for job seekers and employers. UI Program Navigator introduced by EDD to simplify the process of assisting clients was another innovative idea discussed during the session. Challenges faced by the state and local areas vary, however, some of the common ones are insufficient funding and unavailability of a common data system that could produce real-time and accurate reports. What new approaches is your State taking to get people back to work quickly?
Editor’s note: This post is from Tarah Holt, Region 6 Federal Project Officer for ETA. It is a report report-out of the Supportive Services Supersized workshop session at the Region 6 Reemployment Forum.
What are some of the options available to people who have lost their job in these hard economic times? Three topics were discussed during the Supportive Services Supersized session at the Reemployment Forum. The Health Care Tax Credit (HCTC) is one of them. There are two ways to receive HCTC. One way is a monthly benefit where the government pays 80% and the individual pays 20%. The other is a yearly benefit and the individual pays 100% of costs and is reimbursed by the IRS later. An International Revenue Service representative explained that individuals who are involuntarily separated from their jobs on or after September 1, 2008 are eligible to receive the subsidy. DOL benefits advisor Dania Kamafani from the Employee Benefits Security Administration explained COBRA which allows individuals to extend their health care benefits for 18 months after a qualifying event such as loss of a job, divorce, loss of dependent child status, death. Maximum COBRA benefits timeframes is 36 months. There is one extension under COBRA and that is a disability extension which adds an additional 11 months. However to receive the extension a person must be qualified as disabled by Social Security. What are the eligibility criteria for HCTC or COBRA? Check the IRS website to determine criteria. There are approximately 30 pages devoted to determining eligibility for services. What are other benefits for individuals who have been involuntarily separated from a job? Dan Parrish from Consumer Credit Counseling explained that Consumer Credit Counselors also offers free budget and money management counseling when a counselor determines the level of financial crisis a client has reached and provides assistance options. These options include the counselor negotiating lower payments or lower interest payments on behalf of the client. Counselors help clients develop a budget the client can work with based upon the client's income. The initial meeting at Consumer Credit is free of charge. These three areas are options to individuals who are involuntarily separated from their jobs. However, each situation is different so some research may be needed to determine which options are best for individual situations. How are you making unemployed individuals in your State aware of these benefits?
There are many technology tools and practices that are available to those in Workforce Development. Each toolbox varies with the specific agency but the purpose of the toolbox stays the same; to organize the tools someone might need for a particular task.
Technology is used in Workforce Development for case management, gap analysis, worker profiling, etc… What tools do you have in your Technology Toolbox to help you with these tasks? What tools would you like to add to your Toolbox and why?
Editor’s note: This post is from Thou Ny, Region 6 Federal Project Officer for ETA. It is a report of the workshop session “Teaching Green“ at the Region 6 Reemployment Forum.
Greetings--On June 12, 2009, I had to the opportunity to attend the US Department of Labor/ETA Region 6 Re-employment forum held in San Francisco. I also had the opportunity to serve as a moderator of the Teaching Green workshop. The plenary session was awesome, especially when the guest speakers--Brian J. Quirke, from the Department of Energy and Ian Kim, from the Green Collar Jobs Campaign at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, gave us a broad overview of the nation’s recent development and transformation into green thinking and the emerging green economy. Did you know that the Department of Energy has approximately $32 billion in the stimulus package for research and development of green technologies, such as renewable energy, smart grid development, energy storage, and home weatherization programs? For instance, $5 billion is set aside for weatherization of low-income family homes which will require entry level skilled workers to carry out. What linkages have you made with the director of the energy agency in your State to respond to the training needs of this portion of the ARRA funds?
That aside, I wanted to share what is not often brought up in conversations about the greening of the economy or the workforce that was presented during my Teaching Green panelists: Dr. Dan Throgmorton from Los Rios Community College, Michael Williamson from Skyline Community College, Dr. Clyde Sakamoto from Maui Community College, Christine Welsch from the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, and Patti Castro from the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board. As we are all trying to develop and better understand or define what is considered green jobs or careers for our perspective workforces, we can easily overlook some critical elements in our approaches or strategies of how we are preparing workers for the emerging green economy. The purpose of the Teaching Green workshop I moderated was to provide real life examples of how community colleges and local workforce investment boards are working together in training workers for the emerging green careers or job opportunities. All examples presented by the panelists were truly creative, innovative, and informative. For example, it is encouraging to learn that many community colleges already have green curriculum and coursework in place. To this end, a strategic collaboration with the local workforce system can really take the utilization of these existing materials a step farther. However, a concept of the presentation that stood out for me was a strategy that I though provided a fuller picture of how a local workforce system and partner community college can better prepare workers for the green economy—and that is by training the local career center staff on the various green jobs and their specific training requirements. Patti Castro, the presenter of this concept, pointed out that career center staff members play a very critical role in connecting workers to various jobs and training opportunity because they are the folks who are working intimately and directly work job seekers. Therefore, the amount of information being passed along to the job seekers about green job and career opportunities hinges upon the amount of knowledge they have about green job and training opportunities. This concept, in hindsight, makes perfect sense and seems to be a natural programmatic element in preparing our green workforce. However, sometimes we often forgot to include in our conversations or programs those that we do naturally. What are you doing to help your workforce development staff become conversant in "green"?
Editor’s note: This post is from Robert Willliams, Region 6 Federal Program Manager for ETA. The blog focuses on UI System Integration.
With the passage of the ARRA, there has been much talk around integration on the UI system with the other areas of the Workforce System, most notably ES (Job Service) and WIA which is responsible for training, Dislocated Worker and Youth programs and support services. The questions become, how do we integrate UI claimants into the workforce system or how do we make workforce services available to UI claimant when most claims are filed remotely. And to make matters worse, the fact is that in most SWAs, the UI and the workforce service systems are disconnected and do not communicate with each other. Well how do you integrate a process that has different rules, different computer platforms and applications, different forms, different performance measures and weave them into a system with only one entry point that will provide for an integration of services to the unemployed and the underemployed worker?
The ETA Reemployment Initiative challenged the workforce system through a Summit in Baltimore and a series of Regional Forums to come up with innovative approaches that would allow the unemployed worker to navigate the workforce system and provide the workforce system an opportunity to provide better customer service. By providing UI claimants with access to available work force services will enable them to make decision concerning their career path
I know there are many promising practices out there that address these issues. Let’s hear from you!
Has anyone developed an effective marketing strategy that inspires the unemployed to use their services? Has anyone develop a process where one application enrolls you in all workforce services?