Top Takeaways from the Workforce Forum
Top Takeaways from the Workforce Forum
Top Takeaways from the Workforce Forum
Prepared by Katie Loovis on September 7, 2021
Each year, local employers leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table in cash, tax credits, and in-kind support for recruiting, training, and retaining workers.
The Workforce Forum (on July 22, 2021) helped untangle the complicated workforce system and connect local employers with workforce resources that are available right now.
The forum featured testimonials from local employers who have successfully navigated this complicated system and are benefiting from the important resources, including representatives from Piedmont Health, AKG, Morinaga, and Hope Renovations.
Together, these savvy employers as well as educators and leaders from other organizations active in improving the local talent pipeline shared what these resources are, why they matter, and how local employers can make the most of them.
Below is a summary of the forum reflected in a simple 3x3 framework:
- 3 Buckets of workforce resources to help employers 1) Recruit, 2) Train, and/or 3) Retain employees.
- 3 Competency levels within each bucket - 1) Basic, 2) Intermediate, and 3) Advanced - that reflect the increasing amount of employer time and capacity necessary to access the resources.
#1 Recruiting Resources
At the most basic recruiting level, employers should leverage the free sourcing and screening services to access untapped talent through NCWorks as well as our local community colleges and universities. NC Works has an online searchable database with thousands of job seeker resumes. Employers can easily download a list of candidates who meet ranked and filtered criteria (after registering for the site, which is free and easy). Also, the NC Works Career Centers (there are 95 of them that make up the one-stop career center system across the state) offer on-site job fairs for employers, locations for interviews, candidate screenings, and specific labor market data so employers can compare wages. For questions and to learn more about these basic recruiting options, set up an appointment with Caraina Garris, who is the Manager of the NC Works Career Center of Orange County, at (919) 245-4335 or CGarris@orangecountync.gov.
Those employers who are really hitting a dead end with finding job applicants should consider often overlooked talent pools, including veterans, youth, older workers, people with disabilities, people who speak English as a second language, people who are housing or food insecure, those currently unemployed, and job seekers with criminal records. This step takes an employer to the intermediate level, as there are federal incentives for employers who hire candidates from untapped talent pools, including up to $9,600 per eligible employee through the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) Tax Credit, and a free, $5,000 fidelity bond for every “at risk” individual hired, which helps protect the employer from acts of dishonesty. The workforce development boards (there are 23 regional boards across the state) have staff ready to help local employers access these funds. For questions and to learn more, set up an appointment with Glenda Morrow, who is the business services representative for the Regional Partnership Workforce Development Board, which serves Orange, Alamance, Montgomery, Moore, and Randolph Counties. You can reach Glenda at (336) 570-6800 or email@example.com.
The most advanced level of recruiting is for employers to grow their own talent through Registered Apprenticeships, internships, and other paid (and unpaid) work experiences. To help bring the advanced level resource to life and show employers what a “grow your own” approach could look like, Andrea Fleming, who is the Director of Existing Industry Services for the Alamance Chamber and Luca Romano, who is the VP of Operations for AKG of America, shared how their apprenticeship program, called the Career Accelerator Program (CAP), works. Also, Nora Spencer, who is the Founder and CEO of Hope Renovations, shared how paid work experience funds helped her sweeten her recruiting compensation package and secure the talent her organization needed in this competitive job market. For questions and begin the process of learning more about grow your own talent strategies, set up an appointment with Caraina Garris, Manager of the NC Works Career Center of Orange County, at (919) 245-4335 or CGarris@orangecountync.gov.
#2 Training Resources
Once an employer makes a hire, they need to onboard and train the new employee, and there are resources available to help employers with that training. At the most basic level, employers should conduct a formal orientation for new hires and leverage any existing training programs.
An employer operating at the intermediate level would be willing to put a bit more time and attention into the training and take advantage of available On-the-Job Training funds. This is a WIOA-funded program that the Regional Workforce Board governs and the Orange County Government manages. Both entities have staff who can help you with the application process. Doing so can get you up to 75% of that person’s salary if they are in an eligible category for up to their first six months on the job. To get started, contact the Regional Partnership Workforce Development Board Business Service Representative, Glenda Morrow, at (336) 570-6800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moving up the competency ladder, an advanced level employer would go the next step and create a Customized Training Program for their new hires. Beth Payne, who is Dean of Corporate Services for Durham Technical Community College, shared information on what a Customized Training Program is and how it works, and Roxana Shevack, who is the HR Manager for Morinaga America Foods, Inc emphasized how much it helped her company. To learn more about Customized Training Programs, visit Durham Tech Employer Services and set up an appointment with Beth Payne at (919) 536-7241, ext. 4304.
#3 Retaining Resources
Lastly, after employers hire and train new employees, they need to make efforts to retain the employee. There are resources available to help employers retain existing employees. Starting at the most basic level, to keep existing employees and help them move up the career ladder, an employer should incentive and reward employee professional development. This could mean providing time away from the organization to take an existing training class at Durham Tech, UNC, or with an association, and possibly reimbursing the employee for the fees. It could also mean the employers pays the professional development costs upfront, so the employee is not coming out of pocket for it.
Moving up to the intermediate level, an employer could take advantage of Incumbent Worker Training funds. This is another WIOA-funded program that covers up to $15,000 per organization to offset the cost of training employees who have worked with the organization for more than six months. The idea is that the training should lead to an increased skill level, so that the employees can be promoted, and the employer can backfill opportunities for less skilled or experienced employees. Tammy Wall, who is the Director of the Regional Partnership Workforce Development Board, shared details on what the program is and how it works, and then Jackie Jones, who is the Associate Director of Human Resources for Piedmont Health, emphasized how much it has helped her organization with offsetting leadership training costs. To learn more, contact the Regional Partnership Workforce Development Board Business Service Representative, Glenda Morrow, at (336) 570-6800 or email@example.com.
An employer operating at an advanced level would create new professional development programs for their existing employees. This could be done with the local community college or another service provider, and also done among several employers in the same industry as a collaborative. For more information about tailor-made professional development programs, contact Durham Tech Employer Services and/or Durham Tech Dean of Corporate Services, Beth Payne, at (919) 536-7241, ext. 4304.
In conclusion, every local employer has access to tens of thousands of dollars in cash, tax credits, and in-kind support for recruiting, training, and retaining workers. Our hope is that this simple 3x3 frameworks helps demystify the workforce system and clarify how to access the resources. Whereas the above incorporated key contacts throughout the recruiting, training, retaining framework, below (Appendix A) is a quick list of workforce contacts by geographic scope (state-level, county-level, etcetera). For additional questions or concerns, please contact Katie Loovis, who is the Vice President of External Affairs for the The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, at 919-696-0781 (cell) or KLoovis@carolinachamber.org.
Quick Contact List
- For inquiries regarding state workforce program and resources, including Incumbent Worker Training funds and On-the-Job Training (OJT) funds, visit the Regional Partnership Workforce Development Board and contact Business Service Representative Glenda Morrow at (336) 570-6800.
- For inquiries regarding state funds and resources for hiring those with disabilities, visit NC DHHS Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services and contact Business Relations Representative Deanna Jones at (919) 663-2544.
- For inquiries regarding county hiring events and other employer services, visit Orange County Employment Services and contact Randy Haynes at (919) 245-4343. The back-up contact information is general inquiries or (919) 245-2821.
- For inquiries regarding NCWorks Career Center of Orange County located in Chapel Hill, visit their facebook page and contact center manager Caraina Garris at (919) 245-4335.
- For inquiries regarding Orange Works Employment and Training Center located in Hillsborough, visit their facebook page, and contact center manager Lena Angelichio-Miller at (919) 245-4354.
- For inquiries regarding recruiting UNC students for employment and other employer services, visit UNC Career Services and contact UNC Job Location and Development Coordinator, Casey Lowe at (919) 962-6507.
- For inquiries regarding recruiting Durham Tech students for employment, Customized Training, and other employer services, visit Durham Tech Employer Services and/or contact Durham Tech Dean of Corporate Services, Beth Payne at (919) 536-7241, ext. 4304.
- For general inquiries regarding workforce development, contact Chamber Vice President of External Affairs, Katie Loovis, at (919) 696-0781 (cell).