Coordination and Integration of Welfare and Workforce Development Systems. Local Economic Factors

03/20/2000

A strong economy and low unemployment often lead to high levels of coordination among welfare and employment and training agencies. The tight labor market in many locales has created an environment conducive to the placement of TANF recipients in the workforce. As a result, both workforce development agencies and employers work more closely with the welfare agency to employ TANF recipients.

TANF clients have become sought after "customers" by some workforce development programs. When employers have fewer job applicants to a higher number of job openings they are more receptive to working with programs serving disadvantaged clients (Burbridge and Nightingale 1989). Current labor market conditions have forced many employers to seek out alternative sources, such as WtW and TANF work programs, for recruiting job applicants. In several sites, it has also forced employers to dispel many of their reservations about hiring welfare recipients (i.e., that welfare recipients do not make good employees because of their lack of skills and work experience). Coordination between welfare and workforce development agencies provides more customers for the workforce development agency and the employers they serve, and it enables the welfare agency to offer a wider range of employment-related opportunities for clients. A well-coordinated system and a good economy allow TANF and workforce development agencies to share in the success of placing clients in gainful employment.

As the welfare system has become more employment-focused, welfare agencies have expanded their relationships with employers to create more opportunities to place clients in jobs  both subsidized and unsubsidized. Some TANF agencies have found that coordinating with workforce development providers improves access to employers. In some locations, employers have found themselves bombarded by agencies and organizations trying to place job applicants, and coordination helped to streamline communications and improve relationships with employers.

  • In Charleston, job placement efforts are coordinated through an interagency team of job developers that includes representatives from JTPA/WIA, the welfare agency, WtW, and the ES. They meet on a regular basis to consolidate their efforts and create a united front when approaching employers. The team is designing a marketing package describing the different workforce development programs for area employers. Job developers target employers either by industry or by location and contact them on a regular basis to place clients.
  • In Kansas City, a local collaborative provides training sessions to employers that are designed to dispel the myths and common perceptions about hiring welfare recipients. The response from employers is reported to be quite positive.