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Connecting Systems in Workforce Development Programs

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On the federal, state, and local levels there are an overwhelming number of workforce systems and tools with numerous requirements and access levels. According to a report by the National Association of Workforce Boards, “each program administers separate nationwide workforce-related data systems that encompass different technical directives, are built to different data and systems standards, and require different levels of legal authorization to access.” 

These programs are so complex, that many local agencies build or buy their own tools and databases—which only increases the number of data sources to keep track of. It is unrealistic to maintain knowledge of multiple systems, each with a different user interface and navigation. It also stretches the capabilities of issuing, servicing, enforcing, and auditing staff. When systems don’t align, it takes even longer for constituents to get the information they need, including receiving or updating their continuing education units, proof of training, or professional licenses.

To properly service the needs of workforce boards (who often employ 10 or fewer staff members), the easy and efficient solution is to manage credentials on a single digital platform. A digital credentialing platform that does it all—issuing, verifying, data-holding, and data-sharing—will ease the stress of the workforce department and help prevent staff from becoming overwhelmed during a time when the demand has increased for their services by displaced workers.

Merit’s WorkNow program was launched with this in mind, in order to assist states with their efforts to get millions of unemployed Americans back to work. Merit allows digital and central storage and management of the credentials and certifications that people have already earned. If fully implemented in a state, Merit WorkNow will grant state agencies – including departments of workforce, labor, licensing, regulation, unemployment, and other associated agencies – instant access to verified, up-to-date information in one place.

If these administering systems continue to be specific and distinct to only the departments using them, the path to economic recovery will be much longer than we’d like. It will limit crosswalking abilities across agencies within a state, leading to the second condition that needs improvement: important data should not be difficult to track down when it’s needed.

To take a deeper dive and hear from professionals in workforce development, don't miss out on our WorkNow Webinar Series where we outline and discuss strategies for labor and workforce leaders to tackle today's issues and empower dislocated workers. Click here to watch past and upcoming sessions.

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