Perceptions Keep Businesses From Reaping Benefits Local Workforce Centers Can Provide
By Kristine Kinzli
Workforce centers across the nation are experiencing a significant increase in the number of job seekers they serve. Just in the last year, various Colorado workforce centers have seen numbers go up by as much as 68%. With the increased number of job seekers, job openings from businesses have slowed. In a down turned economy, it is more important than ever to create outreach programs to local businesses.
However, negative perception issues of workforce centers still linger in many business communities. Businesses, large and small, are still uncertain about the services workforce centers offer and they may intentionally avoid any engagement with their local centers. Perception may be that workforce centers can't provide the "qualified" staff businesses are looking for or the idea of an abundance of government hoops and paper work. Maybe businesses assume "Big Brother" will be watching if they participate. In addition, many businesses still believe the only job seekers the workforce centers help are those with barriers to employment such as a criminal background.
Addressing the Issues
As a workforce center professional, now is a great time to educate and engage local businesses about new opportunities and the value savings programs available to them. Changing perceptions in turn will provide more opportunities for job seekers leading to an improved economy. Below are a few ideas to address perceptions and get the attention of businesses.
- Issue #1 - the inability to provide qualified, pre-screened staff. In reality, there are thousands of qualified candidates to choose from - those with their Ph.Ds - to those looking for their first job. Anyone who files for unemployment registers with their local workforce center. Remind businesses that workforce centers are not temporary agencies, nor do they replace an existing human resources department.
- Issue #2 - the paperwork. Yes, there will be paperwork. But businesses shouldn't feel the ownership is on them. The process is guided by qualified center representatives to make it easy on the businesses. The return for extra time on the paperwork could be thousands of dollars in saved revenue with programs that don't cost a penny.
- Issue #3 - workforce centers only place job seekers with barriers to unemployment. Yes, the workforce center helps job seekers with barriers to unemployment such as a criminal background. But they also help thousands of other job seekers from all walks of life and career backgrounds. Reality is businesses get to determine the job requirements and the workforce center matches those requirements by prescreening the candidates.
The Bottom Line
Businesses not partnering with their local workforce center because of misperceptions, may be throwing money right out the window when it comes to hiring and training. Workforce centers save companies millions of dollars each year in hiring costs alone.
Now is the time for workforce development professionals to get out in the community. Many businesses could use good news and cost saving opportunities. Hold open houses or speak at various association, chamber and economic meetings. Promote opportunities for businesses to post job openings or have their own customized hiring event. Talk about training programs for new employees or incumbent workers for businesses that qualify. Identify if the businesses have any other needs such as assessments for candidates showing skill levels necessary for certain positions. Share businesses case studies and success stories from other businesses that have benefited from workforce programs. Most important, address the perceptions and reasons businesses may have for not using this valuable resource.
Kristine Kinzli is a Business Development Analyst at the Jefferson County Workforce Center in Golden Colorado, where she manages all marketing and public relations efforts. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org