A strong economy and low unemployment should mean opportunity for all. But the reality is that not all have equitable access to quality jobs and upward mobility. Wages have not kept pace with the cost of living with many working families struggling to make ends meet. At the same time, businesses struggle to find the skilled workforce necessary to meet their needs. Traditional services are not sufficient. A strong Montgomery County workforce development system must implement both economic development and social service strategies, requiring inclusive and intense stakeholder engagement.
Through stakeholder engagement, workforce development service delivery is more efficient and effective. Key to enhancing service delivery is collective stakeholder facilitation and leadership to convert from current practices of isolated and disconnected entities of service delivery to a community of service providers engaging a systemic approach that cohesively brings together industry, education, government, and community-based services in an integrated and comprehensive way. A community of service providers shares a vision, vocabulary, strategies, and outcomes. For example, to achieve sustainable employment for our job-seekers, the criteria of employability must be collaboratively developed with the employer.
WorkSource Montgomery's Strategic Priorities are:
1. To increase strong customer-focused practices with a sustainable employment placement rate.
2. To increase employer engagement and career pathway partnerships in strategic industries.
3. To enhance current community-based partnerships.
Through many enhancements within the operations of the Job Centers in Montgomery County and with the implementation of the HIRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) program, WSM and its partners have already improved customer access by bringing the services such as workshops and job assistance supports into community libraries and regional centers. WSM will also soon be relocating the Wheaton Job Center into upgraded and expanded facilities, to support expanded partnerships and training opportunities. Future strategies include expansion of the HIRE programs to address regional demographics, through the expertise and partnership with non-profit partners that are well established within the community. Community partnerships help to build trusting relationships and individualized career navigation opportunities for job-seekers, while promoting stronger employment sustainability.
The WDB has developed an eligibility policy to reflect the state’s priority of service guidance (posted on the WSM website).
WIOA law has identified the following populations as targeted under priority of service:
WSM understands that no matter how streamlined the system is, some customers will need additional navigational support. Core partners are currently reviewing how best to help both sets of customers navigate the system. In addition, WSM will continually work with partners to enhance and eliminate gaps in the customer flow and service delivery model that inhibits customers from receiving meaningful access.
A strong workforce system ensures that the business community/employers share real-time talent demands, including the skills and dispositions to be successful within current occupations, as well as the anticipated occupations of the future. WSM works closely with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) for job-market analysis that identifies Montgomery County’s distinctive attributes and supply and demand dynamics. Utilizing these metrics, we can provide the business community with the right talent so that all industry sectors can maintain a high level of economic competitiveness and growth.
In addition to providing an analysis of labor market data, WSM has convened targeted industry focus groups. Utilizing their input, WSM has developed industry-focused career maps in the area of health care, information technology, and construction. Additional career maps for transportation, hospitality, and life sciences occupations are in-development. To address critical pipeline development in these and other career pathways, WSM has engaged Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery College, and The Universities at Shady Grove in formal collaboration agreements to create and implement innovative talent development projects.
To further extend resources and efforts, WSM has been awarded multiple grants for enhancing talent development, through targeted career pathways programs aimed at closing the skills gap and mitigating barriers to employment. These pathway programs target participants that are underrepresented in the industry. Convening and creating opportunity for all necessitates the coordination of public and private-sector policies and programs that provide individuals the opportunity for a sustainable livelihood and supports employers’ goal achievement that is consistent with the societal context.
INDUSTRY-LED CAREER PATHWAYS
To ensure quality service to employers and a new Business Solutions approach, consistent and frequent employer outreach and services are currently being provided. This approach is based on best practices and is designed to ensure internal system-wide alignment and external consistency when reaching out to employers.
WSM is engaging employers throughout their business life cycle, promoting strategic growth through career pathways and strong talent development. WDB views its Business Solutions approach as a key part of a comprehensive workforce development system. Strategic partnerships are critical partners in engaging employers in workforce development programs including DLLR, DORS, the Maryland Department of Commerce, Montgomery County Government, local chambers of commerce, economic development entities, industry associations, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations and an outstanding system of college, university and training entities.
WSM continues to cultivate industry-sector partnerships using the following steps:
Convene industry-led capacity building groups
Create training curriculums and work/learning experiences
Industry-led talent development projects
WSM embraces the critical role of faith-based organizations and CBOs in serving the needs of individuals seeking assistance to help job seekers needs beyond job placement and training assistance. They provide services by connecting individuals and families to the resources including housing, medical, family support services and counseling services. They also serve as a focal point in communities and are trusted allies, individuals, and ethnic groups that do not know how to access AJC services. Over the next year, the WSM will be exploring the idea of utilizing these organizations to serve as possible access points.
Enhancing partnerships serves all job-seekers in the County with multiple barriers to employment through coordinated services that range from income security to job accessibility such as childcare, transportation, and employability skill training.
Through strategic partnership, we are able to enhanced the quality of life for the job seeker and their families through out the county.