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Regional Recovery and Reemployment Forums – Region 1

Thoughts from the “American Recovery and Reemployment Act” Plenary

(Speaker:  Grace Kilbane)

 

I just attended this presentation by Grace Kilbane, Administrator of ETA Region 1, about the American Recovery and Reemployment Act and what it means for the workforce system and attendees here at the Regional Forum.  Here are my reactions and best recollections of what I heard: 

 

As most of us know by now, we stand in the midst of a workforce system crisis.  On the flipside, we also stand on the verge of a workforce system opportunity that hasn’t presented itself in decades-- WE FINALLY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY!  [sound the trumpets – Hooray!!]  At all of these conferences, everyone always complains that there’s not enough money in the system.  Now, we just got over $45 billion pumped into our reemployment system –nearly doubling the amount that we had before.  I’ll say it again – WE FINALLY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY!!!   Let’s use this money to enact real change. 

 

Why is it so important that we change the way we do business?  Well, in short, because we’re in crisis and our system is not designed to handle it.  For one thing, customers are streaming into our system every day in ever-increasing numbers, and we need to figure out how to get the volume of customers back to work quickly and effectively.  Also, this recession has clearly affected some individuals and areas far more than others, so we need to be able to offer additional assistance for those most impacted.  Finally, we need to find a way to preserve the jobs we still have and create new jobs, so that we will not only stem the tide of jobs lost now, but proactively prevent job loss in the future. 

Okay, I get it – we have to change our system.  But what does change mean?  In our line of work, change means that we will serve more people, serve them better, and give them more service options.  Simple, right?  Yeah – you know better than that.  However, although the answers are not simple, the good news is that you or your peers already know most of them.  And, that’s exactly why we’re here at this Regional Recovery and Reemployment Forum – to share ideas!  To solve our problems!  To tell others how we did it!  Or, at least to meet together to figure out how we’re going to go about changing our systems, and to enlist the help of peers and experts in overcoming our obstacles. 

Of course, change is always going to be difficult, and many of us have embarked upon these change missions before.  How will this be any different?  Well, hopefully change will be made easier this time by the fact that we have $45 billion to support us in our endeavors.  If that won’t cover it, I don’t know what will! 

However, we all know the truism that with great privilege comes great responsibility.  In the words of President Obama, “….we must prove to [the taxpayers] that their dollars are being invested in initiatives and strategies that make a difference in their communities and across the country.”  For now, what that means is that the government cannot afford to just give money away wholesale, for us to do whatever we want with – we first have to show that we have a solid plan in place to utilize these funds to produce a solid cost-benefit outcome.  All groaning aside, this is actually a really good thing:  The government does not want to waste taxpayer money.  [Hooray!]  To this end, ETA will be using the ARRA Readiness Consultation Tool from now through mid-May to determine the capacity of state and local system to use ARRA funds, to determine state and local ability to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and to assess areas for Federal Technical Assistance at state and local levels.   

So, now we have a plan, right?  Well, at least we know where to start, and we know where we need to end, and we are here today to figure out the steps in the middle.  The steps will be easy to plan and hard to take, but it’s really, REALLY important that we get it right.  To put this in perspective, this is the most important test of the workforce system since the Great Depression.  We cannot fail due to insufficient money or lack of ideas.  We have 7.5 million unemployed workers, disconnected youth, low-income/low-skilled adults are counting on US to get them back to work now, and make sure jobs will continue to be there for them in the future.  Let’s get to work! 


Don't forget, you can find all of the materials from this session and all of the Forums sessions on the Boston Forum Materials resources page!

A welcome message from Helen Parker, ETA Regional Administrator.

I am excited that there was such a great turnout and energy at the January Reemployment Works! Summit.  The feedback that we received from the meeting was extremely positive. I think what made the summit such a success was the tremendous amount of peer-to-peer sharing and discussions that occurred during sessions and focus groups. I also understand that there were quite a few watercooler moments. The number one request that came out of the summit is that you want more opportunities to share and learn with your peers. The Regional Recovery and Reemployment Forums will allow these peer to peer discussions to continue within your region.  You’ll find information about the forums on this site. 

This Reemployment Community of Practice website is designed to continue and grow the conversations that begin at the Regional Recovery and Reemployment Forums by offering a platform for peers to share best practices and discuss reemployment challenges. I encourage you to share your successes and challenges with your peers and start the conversation. I’ll begin:
 
What is the number one reemployment challenge that your area is facing and how are you addressing the challenge?

click question above  to link to discussion thread

A Dream for Puerto Rico’s UI / ES Workforce System

Blogger:  Rosynell Serrano Pena, Puerto Rico ETA

 

Building off of the Re-envisioning Reemployment Exercise in Baltimore, the Boston Reemployment and Recovery Forum catalyzed one of the Reemployment Architect’s and Designers, Ms. ROSYNELL SERRANO PE?A, from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to develop a dream vision for the state’s UI/ES workforce system.   

  • Online initial claim for UI/ES.
  • Determination process by phone or email.
  • Less paperwork (digitalized docs)
  • More efficient/trained workers.
  • Seamless transition from UI to work.
  • All components linked UI/ES/Council/Rehab
  • Share the vision, view workforce agencies as a whole.
  • Better understanding of process (between agencies)
  • Workforce promoting entrepreneurship.
  • Creative thinking- room for innovation in our system.
  • Working in compliance- DOL/ETA standards of performance. 
  • Building skills in our workforce for lifetime.

The short and long term goal is to promote people’s self empowerment through small business, co-op, and self-employment and support ongoing green jobs: tire recycling, solar homes, and water and wind projects.

 

Feel free to share…what’s your reemployment vision?

Training Models for Developing the Green Jobs Talent Pipeline

Presenters:  Pat Nagy, Vermont Director of Apprenticeship; Suri Duitch, CUNY; Linda Smith, Projects Unlimited

Blogger:  Lee Reynolds, ETA

 

I just attended the Region 1 Forum presentation Training Models for Developing the Green Jobs Talent Pipeline in order to meet the training needs as we move into the 21st Century and the economic challenges we are facing.  What struck me as the biggest issue was the understanding of “green” and the economy.  Three presenters spoke of different training models:  Customized, ITAs, and Apprenticeship, to address the move towards green, but what does that mean?

 

There are some “green” paths that are clear -weatherization retro-fitting or building auditors- but what do we really mean by green? 

 

Is it the cart before the horse?  How do we truly understand the training needs for green and when will we know what types of jobs that means?  The presenters were trying to tackle some of these issues in absence of clear definitions.  The apprenticeship folks are looking at green across various programs and are creating curricula and training to meet that immediate need for retrofitting and weatherization.  The presenter on customized training created a model for composite building that fit with the boat building industry, but that “green” technique can be applied to other fields.  CUNY is looking at creating various classes and curriculum that can be woven together for a credential in order to move volumes of people into these areas, but is seeking clearer definitions and assurance of jobs at the other end before ramping up the volume of people they could train. 

 

So, we are training for green in small pockets using what we know, and are continuing to look for answers that will get us to a clear understanding of career pathways for “green.”  It is a great start to training for the future, but more information is needed before training for green can be truly appreciated. 

 

 

Regional Recovery and Reemployment Forums – Region 1

Thoughts from the “American Recovery and Reemployment Act” Panel

(Panelists:  Gay Gilbert, OWI; Erica Cantor, ONR; Rod Anderson, OWS)

 

I just attended this panel presentation moderated by Grace Kilbane, Administrator of ETA Region 1, about the American Recovery and Reemployment Act and what it means for the workforce system and attendees here at the Regional Forum.  Here are my reactions and best recollections of what I heard: 

 

A few points made by our panelists to expand upon Grace’s ARRA message….

  •         With regard to ARRA accountability, ETA will be collecting data a little more often and a little bit differently during the next few months, because with the great amount of $ being pumped into the system comes great responsibility to show what we’ve done with it to change the workforce system.  A TEGL on this is forthcoming.
  •          The data we collect will help us find out where the jobs are, and what we can do to raise the skill level of our workers to meet the jobs that currently exist for them, and will exist in the future.
  •          There is over $200 million that will be allocated to self-defined regions as part of National Emergency Grants (NEGs).   A new TEGL on this was just released on the web. 
  •          Regional Implementation Grants (RIGs) will partner with NEGs to provide a vehicle for regions to do long-term regional planning for economic recovery.
  •          Turnaround times to allocate funding will be getting shorter for both RIGs and NEGs
  •          The vast majority of the ARRA funding will be allocated to expand UI benefits.  Previously, UI benefits were funded for up to 46 weeks, 50% state-funded and 50% federally-funded.  Since July 2007, UI benefits are able to be funded for up to 79 weeks, 100% federally-funded.


And don't forget, you can find all of the materials from this session and all of the Forums sessions on the Boston Forum Materials resources page!

The wonder of google never ceases to amaze me...  and this morning, when I googled "reemployment, green jobs"(see below for the plethora of materials, some of which is from Heartland Region 5 Forum and Region 1 Forum...), I realized we have the opportunity to create/take the next step.  People already have access to information... Our chance here, within this reemployment community of practice, is to render these vast resources more usable... not just a better filing cabinet, but more specific to individual situations.  It's a big challenge...

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=reemployment%2C green jobs&aq=f&oq=

Regional Recovery and Reemployment Forums – Region 1

Thoughts from the “Strengthening One-Stop Career Centers: Helping more Unemployed Workers Find Jobs and Build Skills” Plenary

(Speaker:  Lou Jacobson, CNA, Hamilton Project, Brookings Institute)

 

I just attended this presentation by Lou Jacobson of the Hamilton Project at Brookings, about how to strengthen our One-Stop system in order to meet the goals laid out for us in this time of economic crisis.  Here are my reactions and best recollections of what I heard: 

 

A One-Stop center is an amazing thing.  When they work well, One-Stops have the capacity to provide $4 in benefits for every $1 spent (If only I could get that kind of return on my retirement account right now!).  So why is it that the entire workforce system doesn’t rave about this fantastic return on investment, and the One-Stops themselves often don’t know which of their programs are really the most effective use of a dollar?  Well, because the accountability system in most One-Stops provides poor feedback.  If we could improve our accountability systems in the One-Stops, we could instantly realize the equivalent of up to a 40% budget increase, through improved efficiency alone.  Amazing! 

 

Per Client Benefit to Taxpayers

Per Client Benefit to Client

$ benefit for $1 spent

Call-Ins

$270

$-113

8.0

JSA

$690

$630

4.7

Job Development

$855

$1350

4.0

Counseling Trainees

$-180

$360

1.3

Training Vouchers

$-1125

$10,725

5.8

 

$583

$1464

3.9

 

But, you ask, how are we supposed to quickly put in place a highly effective accountability system, while we also rapidly expand the provision of high quality services?  We just spent all this time talking about how we need to serve more customers, better, and with more services!  We can’t possibly do both at the same time. 

The answer:  Putting in a highly effective accountability system will be the vehicle for you to serve more  customers, better, and with more services.  If you knew which services gave the best return for each dollar put into them, you could focus your money and your customers on using those most effective services, instead of wasting time and money on those that don’t work as well! 

Some facts about our current One-Stop system:

  •  3000 One-Stops
  •  15 million clients served
  •  6 million jobs listed
  •  3 million clients directly placed
  • 200,000 clients trained with vouchers
  • $4 Billion current funding for One-Stops
  • $50 per client – core services
  • $5000 per client – intensive services

That’s a huge difference in $ invested in intensive services over core services.  Is every dollar invested in those intensive services really worth it?  How do we know who needs to get the intensive services, and how do we navigate them through the system to get to what they need?  Moreover, how do our customers navigate their way through the service maze to get to what they need? 

Lou described this really well:  “Imagine going to the airport, and having no signs to guide you to where you’re supposed to go.  How do you know how or where to check your bags to go through security, and get to your gate?  You might exchange some information with other airport clients on the way that would help you out a little, but overall, without signs and information you’re on your own to navigate the maze of hoops you have to jump through at the airport in order to get where you need to go.”  Perhaps a One-Stop is similar – if we could get some really good accountability data on the effectiveness of our services, we could better map out a roadmap for our customers to get in, get what they need, and get out, with a minimum of $ wasted on services that either weren’t effective or weren’t what they needed.  That sounds like faster (read: more people served), better, and more service variety to me!  Goals number one, two, and three, check. 

Now, which accountability measures should we use?  The bottom line is, you get what you measure.  Lou said, “If you measure a lot of good things, you get a lot of good things.  If you measure a lot of bad things, you get a lot of bad things.”  It’s like being on a diet.  If you get on the scale and you try to measure only the amount of fat that you take into your body, you may end up losing fat, but you ignore other, crucial measures like the nutritional value of what you take into your body.  If you measure nutrition instead, you’re much more likely to get good nutrition and a good overall diet.  So, choose your measures based on what you want to see, not what you want to measure! 

Overall, here’s the point:

  • People always assume some programs are more effective than they are, and they assume that others, like call-ins, are less effective than they are (according to the data above, they're actually pretty effective!).  This sort of misconception  leads to inefficient use of One-Stop funding, which is NOT helping us to deal with our economic crisis. 
  • To increase the efficiency of One-Stops’ use of funding, we need accurate information about benefits and costs of the services we provide, to maximize our performance!
  • We need to put good measures in place, so that we get good information.  Improving our accountability measures can result in the equivalent of a 40% budget increase (!!!) due to decreasing staff time wastage and increasing program effectiveness.
  • There are many specific steps that can be taken IMMEDIATELY, based on the data in Lou’s presentation  and the Hamilton Project Report.  For more specific guidance, you can contact Lou Jacobson at Jacobsl@cna.org (703-824-2943)

Thanks, Lou!!! 


And don't forget, you can find all of the materials from this session and all of the Forums sessions on the Boston Forum Materials resources page!


Here is a sample One-Stop Chart based on Lou's presentation: 

 

 

Effective Rapid Response Strategies for Non Traditional and Other Customers

Presenters:  Maria Heidkamp, Heldrich Center for Workforce Development; Ken Messina, MA Rapid Response.

Blogger:  Susan Desmond, ETA Region 1

 

I just attended this presentation by Maria Heidkamp and Ken Messina, about Rapid Response and how it can meet the demands of our customers during this difficult time.  Here are my reactions and best recollections of what I heard:

 

It’s rare to glance at a newspaper or catch a few minutes of the news and not hear about a company laying-off workers. This morning’s session discussed Rapid Response strategies to address the demand and changing needs of customers.  It is heartening to know that each day Rapid Response staff is meeting with companies and newly impacted workers providing a critical introduction to the services available through the system.

 

So who are these non traditional and other customers?  We all agreed that the system has been serving various groups for a long time.   However, there has been an uptick in the number of white-collar workers, municipal and older workers in need of services. 

 

Ken Messina spoke of the importance of providing consistent services across regional areas to workers dislocated from businesses or municipalities. Even with severance packages, professionals are coming in for services early.  Outreaching to outplacement firms to coordinate and complement services to professional workers is critical.  RR staff needs to be current with the UI rules – furloughs and other alternative work situations are more common today.

 

Recently MA RR team worked with Polaroid and Worcester Poly Technical Institutes to train workers prior to layoffs.  The workers were trained and successfully placed without skipping a beat.  Currently the RR team is working with Bose Corporation to do the same.

 

A big take away for today is that Rapid Response Works! 

 

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