NOTES: 12/21/04 - Eliminating Impoverishment: Innovative Models to Improving Job Placement and Retention

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 12/21/2004 - 16:32.

Today's Tuesday@REI session was organized and moderated by James Harris, Partner with H/L Communications, who brought together an innovative panel of proactive experts addressing workforce development issues, challenges and successes in NEO. For context, James starts the discussion by illustrating that between 2000-2004 Cuyahoga County has had a 22% drop in manufacturing jobs and a 8.1% in all sectors - a report on the state of poverty in Ohio is attached. In talking about eliminating impoverishment in a context like that, it is clear it is very difficult actually having measurable impacts - you need innovative approaches to create work opportunities providing a living wage, to get people thinking about employment in sophisticated ways, and helping employees to keep their jobs once they are placed in them. James starts the discussion on innovative approaches to workforce development with Walter Ginn.

Walter Ginn - director of the ACHIEVE program - offering Innovative Solutions to Workforce Development - supports low income individuals to successfully get them into the workplace and moving toward self sufficiency. Started before 2000 and nothing like it had been tried before. See their Powerpoint presentation on ACHIEVE attached here.

Sees employer as part of the solution - they decide who to hire - developed ACHIEVE to provide workforce development services at the employer site, as best place to further job matching and retention skills of both employees and employers - now have programs in Youngstown and Cincinnati. Innovative approach to workforce development.

Why is job retention important? Focus on Low Income sector - Welfare Exiters - see presentation page 2 for statistics - e.g. for one group of workers found after 10 years in workforce only 15% of this sector moved up to higher levels of employment.

Job retention is about greater stability. For employees, you can't keep a job you can't advance - need to enhance worker skills and self esteem. People come into program with low motivation, skills and self-esteem. For employer, issues are lowering turnover, higher productivity, reduction in recruitment and training costs and build stable workforce. For community, break cycle of revolving door - stable and reliable workers to attract new businesses - lower public assistance costs - greater self-sufficiency leads to more stable community.

Easy case to make for focusing on Job Retention strategy - but in Cleveland it can be a difficult policy to sell.

Why is retention difficult? Barriers outside the workplace - lack of role models, unfamiliar rules, communication problems, lack of employer understanding of the barriers individuals face.

Traditional model of workforce development focuses on centralized general training and then employee dispersion throughout the community. Training typically comes from the workforce development center - difficult to follow up and insure worker success over longer term (see more on Workforce Development Centers below, addressed by Randell MsShepard. ACHIEVE said to employers let us come to the worksite and work with employees directly - not going all over the city to ad hoc employee workplaces but to specific larger employer sites providing access to facilities and employees. They've learned they are able to impact the assignee directly but benefit goes broader - productivity goes up and job retention increases throughout workplace.

What ACHIEVE does is address issues for high turn-over in entry level jobs - work-life balance issues. Childcare issues - life skills and soft skills on how to become a better employee - more productive workplace relationships - job planning and identifying opportunities - next week - month - year - and work with skill building for front line supervisors who oversee entry level workers - most used to be front line and were not trained to be supervisors but then are made supervisors without the skills.

Key components to ACHIEVE - Weekly Lunch and Learns - find out what is most important to group of employees - and Case management one-on-one to address individual needs and goal setting - Supportive services, especially in emergency - personal, relationships, child-care, transportation, housing - can be addressed through limited financial assistance.

People doing this work are licensed social workers so they know how to access resources - and Cleveland is a resource-rich community... this provides Community Based Referrals, better leveraging existing social services. Supervisor training is one of their most valuable services - highly regarded. Sharing best practices with supervisors and managers.

ACHIEVE Results - key measure of success at the work site is turnover - in 10 out of 15 sites, ACHIEVE participants on average experience 34% lower turnover than employer baselines. Most of their demonstration sites are nursing homes - reduced turnover as much as 90% over 6 months - at 5 sites there was little impact measurable positive impact but employers valued the service - some offered to pay to continue.

Key factors of success - partnership with employer - you're one of us - getting employees to participate in the program.

Where are we going with this now? Coming to end of study phase and looking to 4 strategies. 1 - sell program to employers at cost recovery for lower turnover and measurable benefits - 2- replication - important to report out what works and share as model for other efforts - 3 - extension/expansion of model - 4 - sector wide initiative - e.g. healthcare - long-term vs. acute.

Attendee asks about employer attitude about GED – some employers provide GED classes and pay for classes – other don’t do anything to help employees advance skills.

Yvonne Tufts Jeans is Sr. VP of Workforce Solutions and Faith Based Development for ShoreBank - has faith based collaboration with churches and business community to provide mentoring and for potential employees and support for pastors and community leaders to go out in the community to encourage business development. ShoreBank loans money to entrepreneurial businesses and requires loan recipients come to Workforce Solutions for employees - focused on creating jobs in Cuyahoga County and especially in areas where they have loans in place - inner city - based at E105th street - job retention is around 83% over two years - placement in high 90s% - provide mentors for each employee - have conducted classes all over community - include Latino program - 60 pastor/church partners - over 90 "graduates" of the program... 29 last week - all are hired - many are former inmates.

Q - how long is the "class"? - 10 weeks - have other program with Center of Employment Training and placement has been 100% - working more with hard skill programs in construction and trades.

Q - do you work with helping students become entrepreneurs? They have alumni receptions and one alumnus who had been through prison and had to raise a child was placed in a construction business and started his own business cutting grass and shoveling snow

Moderator points out these programs are successful because they experiment with nontraditional programs and work with both employers and employees.

Randell McShepard - Director of Community Affairs - RPM International and Member of Workforce development Board. Start talk pointing out challenges ahead - Since year 2000 Ohio has lost more jobs than any state in US - 39th in # of residents with 4 year degree - several major cities in OH have poor HS graduation rates - Cleveland 19% for African American Males - one out of four families in Ohio are impoverished - #i employer in Ohio is Wal-Mart. Represents the City of Cleveland workforce investment board - we have workforce investment act - administered by US department of labor - streamlines employment and training - one stop - effective and efficient. That gives money for workforce development but most employers have poor understanding of he workforce development system - only 19% of employers know about system and 4% of employers use the system - WIA Advantages for workers - help jobseekers find work - advantage for employers is hiring and job retention. Have board, relationships, functions, vendors, etc.

When he came to the board on 2002 he saw number of vendors (90) and how poorly managed and saw this was a system that needs to be fixed. Three basic services - core services - job leads, resource room, job board - don't even need to talk to anyone. Second level is intensive - some interaction with career coach -workshops - formal assessment and testing - weekly job clubs. Third is training where investing dollars to send students to schools - provide dollars for tools and uniforms.

Work with dislocated workers with United Labor Agency and meet with displaced workers and plug them into job training and reemployment services.

Provide all this to youth as well.

Reality of what they face with all this - public system was challenged - Ohio was the laughing stock of the workforce assistance world - computer system crashed so they couldn't report results - audited by every agency on the country, especially as Ohio is one of the biggest systems. Also, with 90 vendors being too much they decided to focus on employment clusters that we're best for Ohio - passed resolution for demand occupation clusters - Healthcare, manufacturing, construction and IT were chosen as priority - very unpopular with some vendors - was win for the board showing benefits.

In Sept 2004 formed city/county employment connection convention at convention center with job fair - city and county received only grant in America to develop one workforce identity - Employment Connection.

Two weeks ago today the Mayor and County Commissioners signed letter of intent merging city and county workforce systems - now one system - have strategy for melding impact of two.

Involved with FFOEF - board and executive on loan - looks at who they are giving funds to - Jumpstart, Bioenterprise, Nortech, TeamNEO - none of the people needing jobs here are supported by these interests - he is supportive of that but is looking for balance

Q - merged efforts of City and Community - what are the benefits? If they can come together on anything then that should be encouraging to the community - he lives in Medina and is talking to workforce development leaders in other counties so he is looking to bringing together move of the region and using collective voice to get stat and federal

Q - Herb - Can FFOEF start addressing more bottom-up workforce issue - workforce is on the radar but no decisions have been made

Q - Ed Morrison proposes we need strategy to develop "Work Keys" - CEO of Eaton said they interviewed 60 people and none could pass a math test -

Q - any best practices or success stories? One stop was recently certified by the state and was found to have 8 best practices - having realigned vendors and cluster focus - they are on right track.

Q - Nancy Cronin points out many of the issues in workforce are related to failures in education. He points out School board is on their board - and there are program with Kent State and Baldwin Wallace to help students advance from public school to good 4-year colleges.

Q - Ed mentions University Collaboration with 6 schools and suggests they could work with the workforce development focus - Steve Minter is the lead/CEO - suggests teaming up with Board

Q - do we have metrics on the gap in jobs available vs. people with skills to fill - Ed says it is hard to measure but solutions may be planned - skills testing helps address - Randell says they are looking to realign board - attendee points out Board needs to focus on employers as customers - defends FFOEF as creating next generation employers - will be gap. Headhunting is all about relationships with employers

Q- if you could wave a magic wand what would you change to improve outcomes for the next six months - get lots more people in the city and region aware there is a system for employers and employees to work together with the system

Q - You don't have what employers need - Randell challenges that… need collaboration and communications

Q - what would you suggest to change by working with REI - call him because he is looking for help with actionable solutions

Workforce Summit 2004 Speakers.pdf59.76 KB
WIB-WIA Background.doc39.5 KB
Members of Ohio WIB, according to County.pdf210.9 KB
CEOGC Job L-G NEO 2000-2004.pdf57.74 KB
CEOGC Manufac Jobs 2000-2004.pdf61.65 KB
CEOGC State of Poverty 2004 Report.pdf665.38 KB
Achieve WG 1221.ppt167.5 KB