This past January, the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) won a one-year, $150,000 grant through the California Workforce Development Board’s Workforce Accelerator Fund to design and implement a new digital tool to improve SDWP’s business processes. SDWP has always been committed to improving service delivery for both our America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) customers and staff, but has needed an impartial party to study San Diego’s AJCC system inside-out and design a solution to best meet the needs of customers and a funding source to support that study. The Workforce Accelerator Fund is specifically designated to support California employment service providers in exploring innovative strategies for improving operations, and this award opened the door for SDWP to pursue that opportunity.
SDWP has partnered with Code for America (CfA), a technology developer that specializes in designing technological solutions for government agencies, to lead the research and tool design. CfA uses a unique process in which they will send 3–5 technical fellows — engineers, coders, user experience designers — to San Diego for three weeks to immerse themselves in San Diego’s AJCC locations and the experience of job seekers. The fellows will conduct interviews with customers, case managers and program managers and observe the day-to-day activities at the AJCC sites at various points of service delivery, including intake, workshops and training and program exit.
Using this information, the fellows will prototype a tool that addresses a need or inefficiency experienced by job seekers, AJCC staff, or both. Working with SDWP and the AJCC system over several months, CfA will then refine their prototype by testing it, making improvements, and testing it again — repeating the process until they have a functional digital tool that can be implemented at the AJCC locations.
CfA fellows are already several weeks into their research. They have visited AJCC locations in every region of San Diego County and conducted dozens of interviews. Over the next few months, the fellows will identify a handful of pain points in our service delivery and will evaluate the economic impact of each issue to determine which to prioritize. Once the fellows and SDWP have decided on an issue, they will begin designing the digital tool for implementation in 2018.