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Improving Workforce Development Access and Operations

The workforce development landscape has many, often disconnected, organizations that collectively assist people in getting back to work. Now, agencies, boards, employers, education and training partners, quite often have a small staff to support their efforts. As America continues to face high unemployment rates, how can these small teams across many organizations optimize their efficiency and cooperation -- working together to get people employed as fast as possible?

Massive unemployment leads to more people relying on workforce development programs, exacerbating the already-demanding workload of small workforce development teams. But they are not the only ones being overwhelmed. According to NPR and Politico, systems across the country crashed due to nearly 7,000 people attempting to file at once and 78,000 attempting to file within three days. Displaced workers are calling hundreds of times, millions continue to file every month, and workforce offices are getting hundreds of complaints because their unequipped systems are too slow. The pandemic has revealed that current workforce systems in place are outdated.

Additionally, the need for cohesive modernization goes beyond improving operations. COVID has limited workers’ access to local job centers, as many locations are temporarily closed -- limiting workers’ access to direct guidance and support. Workforce development programs need to establish different channels of communication in order to keep participants engaged, attaining credentials and getting matched with opportunities and benefits.

Merit allows the workforce development staff, including individuals working at job centers, to stay connected with workers remotely. The digital credentialing solution enables workforce partners to issue credentials contactlessly. In addition, Merit gives workforce development programs the ability to address individuals and link them with opportunities based on their earned credentials and overall achievements in real time. That ignites personalization at scale, which means that even the smallest teams are now able to support and reach a large population in need.

Finally, an effective workforce system should aggregate information from various sources: agencies, learning partners, case managers, job seekers, funders, and so on. As an interoperable solution, Merit supports and enhances the coordination across the many workforce organizations and programs within one state (and beyond), streamlining data and providing full visibility of participants’ economic and employment data, as well as WIOA-related metrics.

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