Employers in communities across the country need to find skilled workers to fill open jobs. This report highlights promising approaches and strategies that both CBOs and the Workforce Investment System can use to prepare workers and overcome barriers to employment by examining three organizations. Each organization was selected because it has a sophisticated approach to employer engagement that connects with employers in multiple ways using innovative strategies. The report provides detailed descriptions of the three organizations and their approaches and strategies for engaging employers.
Workforce development programs prepare workers for jobs through training, education, work experience, and coaching. They also provide supports to help workers overcome persistent barriers to employment. Common supports include childcare, transportation, counseling, and financial assistance, and matching workers with available job opportunities. An essential part of their work is engaging employers to help workers get jobs and succeed at work while ensuring that employment programs are designed to meet employer needs. Ultimately, workforce development programs aim to develop deeper relationships with employers that go beyond transactional job matching to become a trusted partner in realizing human resources and other related goals and the strategies and approaches highlighted in this report can inform the Workforce Investment System's actions for engaging employers. In addition, some workforce development programs are operated by community-based organizations (CBOs), which are rooted in local neighborhoods or communities and serve disadvantaged residents of those communities.
(The 28-page report was published by the Urban Institute in May 2018.)
Major Findings & Recommendations
Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) play important roles in their communities by providing workforce development services and programming to disadvantaged groups facing barriers to work. Many CBOs partner with Workforce Investment Systems to provide services. An essential part of this work is engaging employers. This report highlights the engagement strategies three different CBOs use to help participants with barriers to employment succeed in the labor market. These strategies and approaches are as follows: -carefully selecting employers to target; -acquiring deep knowledge of the employer and job-seeker needs; -building trusting relationships with employers by providing quality services; -using targeted strategies to break down negative employer perceptions; and -leveraging partnerships and knowledge of the community. Other CBOs and Workforce Investment Systems trying to improve the workforce outcomes of disadvantaged populations they serve could benefit from adopting these practices. Implementing these strategies requires CBOs and Workforce Investment Systems have the capacity (including resources and the right staff) to interact in an ongoing way with employers. Funders working with these CBOs and Workforce Investment Systems have a role to play, by helping to support these capacities and understanding the time it can take to build trusting relationships.