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By Mary Beth Snyder
Author: Mary Beth Snyder, Director of Product Management, Equifax Inc.
During the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), the White House provided $40 billion in American Rescue Plan investments to workforce development, including over $13 billion committed to, or bid for by, more than 1,000 state and local governments.
These funds provided 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.
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 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.