I was lucky enough last week to attend a conference where private employers and the public workforce system got together to talk about how we can help one another; can we continue and even improve on how we work together. And I have to say it was great, a very valuable and productive conversation, but also reassuring. Reassuring in the sense that it validated the direction we’re trying to go in serving employers.
First, we’re making progress on getting the word out that we do more than just help fill jobs. That will always be our bread and butter, but we have programs that train or up-skill potential or current employees, provide tax breaks to employers, and help quantify and qualify the current and projected labor market in terms that are relevant to employers. And that’s only to name a few.
Second, we’re beginning to accept that employers don’t expect us to solve all their problems. For a long time, the workforce system assumed we had to have every employer as a customer, and that’s not realistic.
Third, we’re learning to talk the language of business. This might seem a strange thing, but government and private business don’t always talk on the same level (ex. referral to us is sourcing to them).
And last, we’re starting to listen first, rather than rushing in to eagerly tell employers what we can do. Employers want and need us to understand their needs first, be able to relate that to what we have and do, and then marry those two things where we’re able. And it all begins with us listening.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve not solved the riddle; success is measured over the course of many steps, not just the last one. But as long as we continue to actively engage with business, we’re definitely on the right path.