By Mary Beth Snyder
Author: Mary Beth Snyder, Director of Product
Management, Equifax Inc.
Over two years into the COVID-19 public health emergency
(PHE), the White House recently announced that $40
billion in American Rescue Plan investments have been allotted to
workforce development, including over $13 billion committed to, or bid
for by, more than 1,000 state and local governments.
These funds provide state and local workforce agencies the
opportunity to expand workforce development programs and not only help
both job seekers and employers, but also foster economic growth by
harnessing innovation. This growth and innovation is now more
important than ever in a time of critical labor shortages.
To explore the ways in which data can help solve for the
challenges workforce leaders face, I was joined by Mason Bishop,
Principal at WorkED Consulting, and Amanda Wagner, Chief Operating
Officer at Employ Prince George’s (Maryland) Inc., for a recent Carahsoft
webinar on the topic, moderated by Blake Hanlon, VP, U.S. State
Government Relations at Equifax Workforce Solutions.
Like most counties in the U.S., Prince George’s County in
Maryland saw significant challenges to workforce development at the
onset of COVID-19 and beyond, as fluctuating unemployment rates and
uncertainty struck the nation.
“We’ve all struggled over the past two years, and our
workforce has changed tremendously,” said Wagner. “At Employ
Prince George’s, we’ve really been driven by data in order to try
and recover quickly, efficiently, and effectively for our job
seekers and for our employers.”
With more jobs to fill than people to work, Prince George’s
County leveraged data to create workforce development programs that
meet the unique needs of specific demographics, from immigrants and
refugees to veterans or people with disabilities. At the same time,
they have leveraged data to go beyond ever-changing unemployment
numbers to better understand which populations are on the sidelines
of the labor force and help them realize new opportunities.
By leveraging data to create demographic and
industry-specific programs they have helped create a workforce that
uniquely understands the needs of job seekers throughout the county.
Learning from workforce development agencies like Employ Prince
George’s, other agencies can do the same.
As government agencies make and implement plans for funding,
Equifax Government Solutions can provide the insight – and data-driven
solutions – agencies need to help maximize investments by streamlining
eligibility, reporting, and operational requirements for these programs.
Working across the public and private sectors and now, in
higher education at WorkED Consulting, Mason Bishop’s clients have
come to rely heavily on The Work Number® to improve their
eligibility determination process and comply with regulatory
progress report requirements. As he has watched the pressure and
requirements for managing data to demonstrate program outcomes
continue to grow, he sees The Work Number as a primary,
cost-effective solution for doing just that.
“The market is expecting that we have good sources of data,
so we know what happens to people after they train or are educated
in workforce development programs,” said Bishop. “We need tools and
resources to figure that out.”
Tracking down income and employment outcomes from past
program participants has often been a challenge for workforce
development agencies, and leveraging automated, real-time income and
employment data from The Work Number can help.
From the second a program participant walks in the door
until the time they exit a workforce development program, data
from Equifax can provide a comprehensive understanding of that
individual’s employment and income, address history, and even
provide incarceration pointer data to help caseworkers address
potential barriers to employment upfront.
For instance, leveraging The Work Number to detect omissions
in a job seeker’s resume can help caseworkers glean valuable
information – like whether a new participant has been employed
sporadically – to not only verify eligibility but also help
proactively address soft skills potentially affecting long term
employment success before applying for jobs.
Finally, checking for life changes such as new or loss of
employment, income fluctuation, address changes, incarceration pointer
data, or deceased indicators can help workforce agencies focus
attention on those who need more assistance, or no longer qualify, to
help participants successfully complete a workforce program. Workforce
agencies can also improve ongoing program measurement, a requirement
to receive funding for the benefits disbursed, by removing
participants who were unsuccessful or no longer eligible due to
reasons such as becoming incarcerated or deceased.
To learn more about how Equifax can support Workforce
development agencies, visit the link here.