Fixing to Change: A Best Practices Assessment of One-Stop Job Centers Working With Welfare Recipients. Employer Outreach and Involvement

 

Some of the One-Stop sites have a long and close relationship with the employers in their communities, based on their services to the "mainstream" labor market, while others are just beginning their employer outreach efforts. Economic development services have been incorporated in some One-Stop systems. However, in general, few sites have spent much time developing an advisory group of employers interested and concerned with facilitating the transition from welfare to work.

Most of the connections between One-Stops and employers revolved around serving the skilled and semi-skilled labor markets. For example, the Kenosha County Job Center sends representatives to Japan (compliments of the US Department of Defense) to recruit exiting military personnel with skills that would be attractive to local employers. In Traverse City, local employers have actively helped structure the programs and physical space at the One-Stop in order to handle the flow of UI claims along with JTPA and welfare-to-work clients. Employers were quite adamant about the need to coordinate employment services among several agencies, preferring to have one phone number, or website, where they could list an opening and thus get access to several sites within the employment network. Most employers track these patterns well, and resent having to contact several public agencies such as schools and colleges to list the same opening.

A few sites have incorporated economic development services into their One-Stop systems. In Marshalltown, the community college has the authority under state law to issue bonds that can be used to finance training for employment expansions, dedicating the revenues from the resulting wage growth in the area to retire the bonds. In Traverse City, local economic development councils are active members of the One-Stop partnership. While many retail and service employers tend to view economic development as a boon that boosts the demand for their goods and services, not all employers welcome economic development efforts, due to their impact on the local wages and the resulting competition for skilled employees. Nonetheless, those programs that emphasize training as an integral part of economic development activities appear to be best received by the employers in the focus groups.

Some sites were just beginning their efforts at systematic employer outreach, even though several maintain an account executive approach to employer relations with their regular customers, i.e., maintaining one point of contact for all services provided via the One-Stop. In Waukesha County, a sister One-Stop model to Kenosha County in Wisconsin, a computerized data base is used by multiple partners for employer outreach, combining summary information about the firm with an historical record of contacts and notes from the different agencies and individuals that have worked with the firm. Out of 11,000 employers in Waukesha County, roughly 1,000 employers are regular clients. However, this data base - and the employer wage and tax records maintained by the state - have not yet been used to develop a strategic outreach plan to reach key employers.

Footnotes

22.  James L. McIntire, Marsha D. Brown, and Jan Nordlund, Minimum Wage Study: The Impacts of the Minimum Wage Initiative in Washington State, Institute for Public Policy and Management, University of Washington, January 1991.

23.  James L. McIntire, "The Employer's Decision to Train Low-Wage Workers," unpublished dissertation, Department of Economics, University of Washington, 1993.

24.  Ibid.

25.  It is useful to note that in the Waukesha illustration, the County has 11,000 employers and only 400 welfare cases.