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By Marcus Estes, Barbara Hicks and Misty Vowell, Mississippi Department of Employment Security

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) is a federally funded state agency that provides an array of services through WIN Job Centers located throughout the state.  The WIN Job Centers offer convenient, one stop employment and training services to employers and job seekers.  WIN Job Centers also pay unemployment insurance to workers who lost their jobs.  The Labor Market Information Department gathers and disseminates labor force data used by private industry and public agencies for planning and resource allocation. 

MDES provides services not only through its 53 WIN Job Centers but also through its E-WIN Access Points. The purpose of the E-WIN Access Points program is to establish an alternative convenient site for job seekers to perform a job search without visiting their local WIN Job Centers.  E-WIN Access Points are strategically located throughout the state in both faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs).


Examples of faith-based organizations could include but are not limited to local places of worship, church administrative offices and/or family life centers, regional offices of various religious groups, etc.


Community organizations may include but are not limited to libraries, community centers, city halls, schools, county courthouses, chambers of commerce, volunteer fire stations, urban leagues, charitable organizations, community action organizations and rural assistance centers.


E-WIN Access Points will target high-poverty, Limited English Proficiency, and other high-need populations to increase the access of job seekers to workforce systems. Currently there are seventeen E-WIN Access Points across the state of which eight are located in public libraries.



We recently posted several resources on the Worforce3One website related to a dynamic and effective action model, Strategic Doing, that builds on three principles that have helped our workforce system respond quickly and with vigor to the challenges the recession has brought us:  Alignment, Linking, and Leveraging.  While the system has long used these principles almost intuitively in service delivery, we haven’t always applied them strategically to solve, or even to anticipate and avoid, problems. Now we can. 


Strategic Doing is also a platform for moving quickly and collaboratively from innovative ideas to innovative actions in a simple, structured and – most important in our fast-moving world where even a few focused hours are a luxury – fast process that helps to solidify partnerships, define relationships, and create a “swarm” (to borrow a Strategic Doing term) of new ideas and solutions quickly.  And with many states needing to decide- like now – how best to invest their expiring ARRA Reemployment Services (RES) and Wagner-Peyser dollars,  there may be no better time to become familiar with this action-oriented decision making tool.


As you will see from the materials, a growing number of local, regional and state organizations are using this approach to “jump-start” creative solutions.  As you will hear from some of them in future blogs, they are attracted in part by the focus on action, not just planning.  Participants leave their sessions with specific partners identified (by name and phone number, not just organization) and action steps ready to be taken forward.  This ability to align, link and leverage in real time makes the Strategic Doing experience especially satisfying to those who have participated. And it is certainly even more attractive as the clock ticks down for obligation of the Recovery Act RES and Wagner-Peyser funds.  It’s all about making good decisions and acting now, while funds are available.


So download, read and share!  You can find the information on how to “do” Strategic Doing here (link). And look to the CoP for more bloggers to share how their states are investing their ARRA RES funds.  


It is a great pleasure to join in this partnership with the Department of Labor. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries (including school, academic, research and public libraries) and 17,500 museums. We are primarily a grant-making agency and we have a strong and growing policy and research focus.
During the past ten years, thanks to support from IMLS, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, state and local funding, the e-rate, and resourceful librarians, more than 99 per cent of public libraries offer free access to the Internet. Wherever you are, large city or small town, your library and librarian will help guide you to the information resources you need.
Library service has been transformed by the accessibility to new technologies and by professionals trained to handle the public’s information-seeking and information-understanding needs. And the public has responded: library visits (over the past ten years) have increased more than 20 percent—to 1.7 billion in 2008.

Libraries can be the “on ramp” to one-stop services. Collaborations with libraries help the public workforce system by offering trusted welcoming community spaces with free internet access, meeting rooms, data-base resources for career training and job seekers, convenient hours and locations, and librarians trained as knowledgeable information navigators.
IMLS has very strong relationships with state library administrative agencies. In every state, there is a state librarian and although they wear a variety of hats and are situated within state government in many different ways, they have two things in common. All of them are responsible for library development in their states and all of them administer federal funds from IMLS. If you ever have a question about how to work with libraries in your state – the state librarian is your “go to” person. IMLS has contact information for every state librarian on its website at

The IMLS web site features many links to employment-related resources developed by libraries, often in partnership with the public workforce system. It also includes a series of podcasts with state librarians who are working with public libraries to facilitate these important connections. See
Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, a study we supported together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, reports that:
  • More than 77 million people over the age of 14 used a library computer last year.
  • 30 million people used library computers to help address career and employment needs.
  • Among these users, 76 percent reported that they searched for jobs online.
  • Among job seekers, 68 percent went on to apply for a job or submit a resume.
  • 23 percent used library computers to receive job-related training.
  • 3.7 million people reported finding work using a library computer.
 These data show that libraries are already in the workforce-development business, and we believe that this collaboration with the Department of Labor will benefit not only our agencies and our institutions, but, more importantly, the American people.

--Mary Chute, Deputy Director for Libraries
Institute of Museum and Library Services

About 250 people joined us recently for an interactive ‘strategic doing’ event hosted by Brevard Workforce and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, (and generously sponsored by FLORIDA TODAY, our local Gannett newspaper) called Overcoming the Space Challenge through Regional Innovation.  The group came together to learn more about the challenges we face at the end of NASA’s Shuttle Program, and to actually incorporate our ideas and resources into a strategic plan that would help Brevard and the surrounding region in overcoming these challenges.   It was the first such event Brevard has ever experienced.


Facilitated by Ed Morrison, strategic advisor to the Purdue Center for Economic Development and Linda Fowler, founder of  Regionerate, local, regional and state experts on the leading edge of responsibility in the areas of schools, our economy, the aerospace industry, county services, and help for the workforce started off the event with some insight before attendees broke into groups. 

Brevard Workforce briefed the audience on our intensive Aerospace Workforce Transition program and the Regional Aerospace Workforce Initiative, efforts that started more than three years ago to serve and assist the talent that will be displaced.


After the briefing, the re-engagement network groups got down to work. They discussed the first steps in pulling together people and resources that might work together to strategize and carry out activities that could help in several areas entitled: Aerospace 2.0, NASA 2.0, Entrepreneurship, Talent Marketing, Talent Advancement, Growing Clusters, Aerospace Suppliers, Talent Support, New Narratives and Government 2.0. More than a dozen action plans were created by the various network participants, who are still working together to refine them via a dedicated Internet social media web site set up for the community.  Brevard Workforce plans to reconvene the attendees with their respective networks sometime in July 2010.


On July 19, 2010, ETA hosted a Webinar on effective workforce-library partnerships.  We had presenters from ETA, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the State of Illinois and Jefferson County, Colorado.  This Webinar was a part of the partnership between ETA and IMLS, dedicated to spreading the examples of partnership between the workforce system and libraries.  Please see the presentation, recording, and transcript at

The $250 million in Reemployment Services Grants provided through the Recovery Act have generated a host of creative and innovative approaches to helping the unemployed. In particular, we have learned a great deal over the last year about how assessment tools can strengthen reemployment services. Personality assessments, work values assessments, skills transferability assessments/tools, interest assessments, educational assessments, occupational skills assessments, work readiness assessments and the list goes on.... all of these types of assessments and more increase the workforce system’s ability to match job seekers and employers.   


If you are still looking for ways to invest your ARRA RES funds, we want to help you learn about which instruments are the most effective by connecting you with your workforce system colleagues who can give you unbiased, first-hand feedback on their experience with specific products. If you are interested in purchasing a particular assessment instrument or tool and would like to see if there is a workforce system colleague that is using the instrument you are interested in, please contact our resident expert on assessment tools:  


Lauren Fairley-Wright

Workforce Analyst

USDOL – ETA – Office of Workforce Investment


In addition, this blog is a great place to start asking questions related to the effective use of assessments.  Ask your colleagues what tools they are using and whether they find them user-friendly from both the administrator’s role as well as feedback received from customers.  Ask your colleagues about the analysis of the assessment results.  For example, was there a significant amount of training involved upfront to learn how to administer the tool and analyze the results?


Peer review and feedback can help make informed investments in your assessment suite!  Use this community of practice and blog to get started now.



Greetings from the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals. The Recovery Act provided an unprecedented opportunity for states and local areas to invest in the professional development of One-Stop employees who are on the frontlines of reemployment services. Building the capacity of front-line staff to serve the unemployed and develop their own careers is an investment that will pay off over the long term. As the demands of today’s businesses and job seekers increase, it is critically important that the workforce development profession continue to evolve.  That means that we, as professionals in this field, need to continuously update our skills in order to meet the changing needs of our customers and to develop our own career pathways within the system. 


When customers come to a One-Stop Career Center, one of the first things that frontline staff do is to assess their skills and abilities.  They help them identify the best path to achieve re-employment and self sufficiency.  One Stop staff encourage the unemployed to create a career plans, take the necessary training to remain current with their particular field of interest, and obtain an industry-recognized  credential as a way to remain viable in a shaky economy. But what about the One Stop staff themselves? Where is the system’s dedication to creating our career pathways?  While it is easy to use overwhelming workloads as a reason to not invest in our staff, the fact remains that it is imperative that the workforce system takes its own advice.   


Whether you choose the nationally-recognized Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP) credential administered by NAWDP or one of the other credentials out there – now is the time to encourage your staff to highlight their professionalism and commitment to lifelong learning. Now is the time to think about investing those remaining ARRA RES funds in some frontline staff professional development options that exist out there. Believe me, your staff will thank you for it, and will be more engaged and proactive in their duties, because they will know you care as much about their careers as you do about the customers.


For frontline staff, now is the time to make the commitment to ourselves,  to our employers and our customers, to continuously update and enhance our skills by attending local workshops, national conferences, or even simply reviewing the valuable information that is posted on this site.  The bottom line is without our nation’s highly trained and highly skilled workforce development professionals – there will be no quality in our nation’s workforce development system.  And, where will that leave our customers?






By Linda Strong, JobLink Unit Manager, North Carolina Division of Workforce Development, and Mary L. Boone, State Librarian, North Carolina


North Carolina has been very successful in its library and workforce development partnership, and the key to that success has been a state-level collaboration fully supported by North Carolina’s Governor Beverly Perdue.

The partnership between the North Carolina workforce development system and public libraries began last year when the Secretary of Cultural Resources saw newspaper reports on how libraries were being affected by the economy and asked the question “Can’t we do something to help them?”  The Secretary tasked the NC State Librarian to create a program of Job Search Workshops to support public library staff in addressing the needs of job seekers in their libraries.    The Department of Commerce and the Employment Security Commission were identified as important partners and were asked to participate in the Job Search Workshops.  The Department of Commerce’s Division of Workforce Development (DWD) and the Employment Security Commission (ESC) had a commitment to address the increased demand on the workforce development system, and this project was viewed as a valuable opportunity to expand capacity of local communities to meet the workforce needs of their residents.  The DWD and ESC work together in implementing the NC JobLink Career Center (One-Stop) system, so they established the connection with existing workforce development partners and resources throughout the state.  


The Job Search Workshops were presented jointly by State Library staff and local JLCC staff in March 2009.  The workshops provided an opportunity for library staff to gain a working knowledge of multiple job search resources as well as to obtain the necessary skills to connect the job seeker with the appropriate resource. Workforce staff provided an overview of the JobLink services and shared information on how local libraries could partner with their local JobLink Career Centers (JLCCs). 


The content focused on an organized collection of online and print resources that addressed the challenges of job loss and needs of dislocated workers in NC communities. Job Search Workshops were presented to 296 public library staff from 66 of NC’s 77 public library systems and two community college libraries.  Workshop content was divided into three topic areas:  Getting Started; Where to Find Jobs; and What to Prepare.  Insightful dialogue followed with participants sharing their reviews and discovering many new ways to help library patrons in their job searches.  Participants were able to engage in discussion with the workforce development experts regarding some of the employment challenges experienced by their respective library customers.  Today, local library and workforce partnerships exist in communities all over the state.

The NC experience has yielded national recognition.  NC DWD and State Library staff participated in the April 2010 National Governors Association (NGA) conference call with state workforce liaisons and again in the June 2010 press announcement of the new partnership between the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), designed to help job seekers access employment and training services in public libraries. 

Caption: Left to right are NC JobLink Unit Manager Linda Strong, ETA Assistant Secretary Jane Oates, IMLS Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel, and NC State Librarian Mary L. Boone.

Through the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, Wisconsin Job Service has significantly expanded and enhanced the Re-employment Services (RES) program. With the hiring of 50 new staff we have been able to expand our RES services beyond our 22 Comprehensive job centers to over 65 locations. This type of growth has allowed us to serve more customers throughout the state, making our programs and services more accessible to the citizens of Wisconsin.  We also provided a comprehensive 3 day training for these new staff in July, 2009.


  Job Service has increased the number of RES sessions from 10 per week (serving 150 claimants) to 80 RES sessions per week (serving 900 claimants). Since July, 2009 we have been able to serve over 35,000 customers, with 80% of attendees being referred to other services and programs within the Job Center.


Part of the requirement for RES is that each participant posts a profile on, completes an RES intake form and participate in a three-hour workshop.  Following the presentation, each job seeker participates in a one-on-one session with an RES staff person who assesses their job seeking process and refers them down one of three paths:


?      Work Ready Path,

?      Referral Path, or

?      Employment Counseling Path.


In an effort to better prepare our customers for a quick entry to employment we have invested significant resources in the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). By partnering with ACT, Inc we are making major strides in helping customers become work ready. All RES customers are provided the opportunity to obtain their National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).



Public Workforce System and Public Libraries: Stronger Together

By Grace A. Kilbane, Administrator, Office of Workforce Investment, ETA


In my career with the workforce development system, I have time and again seen that our mission relies critically on making connections.  At the most fundamental level, we connect individuals with career assistance and employment opportunities.  We are also connecting workers, job seekers and employers with other community resources to ensure that we are meeting the complex and varied needs of our customers.   


In this light, I am especially pleased at the opportunity to use this Community of Practice to share an exciting partnership ETA is developing with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  Library professionals are expert at facilitating access to and helping people make sense of new information, and I know that our system can benefit enormously from engaging them in meaningful and concrete ways.  We have summarized the different aspects of our partnership, from sharing information about our electronic tools to the July 19 Webinar highlighting promising state and local examples of workforce-library collaboration, in the newly issued Training and Employment Notice No. 50-09, “Encouraging Partnerships between the Workforce Investment System and Public Libraries to Meet Career and Employment Needs.”  I hope that after you read the TEN, you will be inspired to engage your local library and find out if there are logical areas where its resources complement yours.  After all, this is what we do best as workforce developers—leveraging assets from multiple sources to make a difference in the lives of people, whether they walk in the door of our One-Stop Career Center, use our electronic tools, or maybe even turn to their community library.


In the coming weeks, I sincerely hope that you visit this Reemployment Works! Community of Practice often and learn more about how the different workforce-library partnerships established around the country can help inform regional, state and local reemployment strategies.  And, of course, we very much hope that you will take the time to share your experience collaborating with public libraries.  Whether you are a One-Stop Career Center employee interacting with libraries, a state workforce agency leader engaged in strategic partnerships, or anyone else with a connection to our mission, we would love to hear from you!  To share your partnership examples, click here. 


I look forward to learning about your experiences with libraries and hope that as a result of our Federal partnership, you may discover new ways libraries can be valuable partners.


With warm regards,




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