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November 15, 2017

SDWP’s research team was invited to share insights at Emsi’s 2017 Conference in a session called “Fuel Your Business Services With Best Practices in Workforce Research,” which shared how SDWP uses labor market research to develop programs with employers. By combining both research and business programs into one department, SDWP capitalizes on warm employer leads from labor market research to develop sector-specific strategies with and for employers. SDWP presented in collaboration with the Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research, and highlighted how regional collaboration enhances the effectiveness of both organizations.

Workforce Development Boards are most effective when they connect with the needs of local businesses. The San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) conducts labor market research to identify these needs by gathering on-the-ground data from employers. In conducting interviews and surveys, SDWP simultaneously spreads awareness of programs that exist to support employers and lays the groundwork for enduring partnerships with local businesses that will continue to inform our work. Here are five ways to activate these benefits by engaging employers through research:

1. Leverage relationships with community partners to create an industry advisory board

Each research report SDWP publishes is informed by a group of industry professionals who are familiar with the unique characteristics of their workforce. To identify these individuals, think about groups that already have the ear of businesses. Do you have contacts at local chambers of commerce, economic development organizations or industry-specific associations? These organizations typically have close ties with businesses, and can connect you with experts willing to provide input.

2. While collecting workforce survey data, include questions about employer engagement in surveys

While the majority of questions on SDWP surveys relate to employer hiring needs and workforce skill gaps, there is always a section at the end to gauge employer interest in SDWP programs. Collecting this information equips the business services team with warm leads for employer outreach, and ensures that these employers are made aware of programs that can benefit them. Here is an example of the types of questions included:

Are you interested in learning more about the following employer services provided by the San Diego Workforce Partnership?

  • Funds to reimburse wages for the cost of training new hires
  • Funds to train current workers to be promoted within your company
  • New approaches to recruiting potential employees (e.g. hiring at happy hour)
  • Sourcing and pre-screening interns
  • Information on developing an apprenticeship program for your future employees

3. Invite your business services team to employer interviews

In addition to online and phone surveys, the SDWP research team conducts several in-person interviews with hiring executives at local companies. Whenever possible, a business services representative will join the interview. At the end of the conversation, they can share information about SDWP employer programs and make immediate plans for follow-up conversations.

4. Collect business contact information and track engagement with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system

Workforce boards have several avenues for employer engagement, so staff from across the organization may end up reaching out to the same company. Keeping track of interactions in a centralized database allows staff members to 1) quickly get up to speed on how an employer has previously interacted with the organization and 2) coordinate their communication with companies to be as efficient as possible with everyone’s time. This system should capture email, phone call and in-person meeting logs.

5. Share research results with employers; drive new program development from findings 

Let employers know that they have been heard, and that their insights are leading to new programs to support their workforce needs. Knowing that their time was used well will lead to greater willingness to engage with future research projects, speak at events, or support the organization in other ways.

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