Workforce development organizations have always worked tirelessly to support the communities they serve by matching talent to open careers, recommending training that can re-skill or up-skill job seekers, and providing critical supportive services that help job-seekers navigate the changing labor market. Through data-driven decision making,  strong workforce organizations support and target leading industry sectors that provide community stability through employment and social impact. Effectively implementing this role leads to economic strength in the community. Measuring success means that the workforce organization can propel target industries into the future through the power of an ever-evolving workforce.

Similar to the triage used in medical emergency rooms, Job Centers serve as the emergency rooms addressing a weak economy by anticipating the skills needed to future-proof the workforce through strong up-skilling and re-skilling. It is key to make the strong distinction between these two terms, as it will impact the training program implements.

  • Up-skilling is defined as learning current tasks more deeply – building on prior knowledge to better address the advancements in the occupation.
  • Re-skilling is defined as learning new skills for new and/or evolving occupations, or replacing job skills from an occupation that is being eliminated.

Creating a digital training framework will foster a culture of learning in-demand skills. This type of infrastructure helps workforce organizations stay ahead of emerging trends so that training is consistently programming for the future. This framework should include:

  • Data analysis in partnership with industry based subject matter experts revealing the tacit skills essential for employment.
  • Data sharing and cohort training that provide flexible training options therefore eliminating barriers.
  • Competency-based outcomes that are consistent with the employer’s expectations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created extra demand on workforce organizations when responding to the economic and unemployment crisis. The labor market has shifted to eliminating some occupations and enhancing or creating new occupations. The unemployed and underemployed will need either re-skilling or up-skilling to achieve sustainable employment. The demand for training services has never been higher. It must be addressed in a systematic and efficient matter.

About the author:

Ellie GilesDr. Ellie Giles served as the first CEO of WorkSource Montgomery, Inc. (WSM) WSM is a talent development non-profit connecting employers and job seekers.  WSM works with current employers and new employers to support their talent needs.  Additionally, WSM creates strong talent pipelines for jobs of the future by establishing career pathways through collaboration with strong and relevant training and community resources. Prior to this position, Dr. Giles was the Director of Operations for Montgomery Business Development Corporation (MBDC), the first public/private economic development agency in Montgomery County.