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May 27, 2016

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Workforce development professionals gathered in Orlando in late May to learn from each other’s best practices at the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals (NAWDP) annual conference.


SDWP’s director of business programs and research Tina Ngo Bartel co-presented a session entitled “Strengthening Business Relations and Community Presence through Labor Market Research” with Jason Helsel, director of client services in workforce and economic development at Emsi.

To guide other workforce development boards on creating research partnerships, Ngo Bartel and Helsel offered six tested steps when embarking on a major labor market research report:

  1. Find business and community partners with similar research interests
  2. Interview and survey employers for each report or industry sector
  3. Present data to employers in interviews and ask for validation
  4. Ask employers in surveys, “Would you like to receive more information regarding hiring subsidies and resources offered by [your local workforce development board]?”
  5. Invite employers to speak at report release events
  6. Schedule business services workshops with employers, cities and chambers of commerce

By finding businesses and community partners with similar interests, SDWP reduced the duplication of efforts in San Diego County, sharing research resources instead of independently producing similar reports as other community partners.

Due to closer collaboration and partnership between SDWP and regional entities, organizations collectively saved 80 percent in the cost of research, having spent $150,000 for one report in 2012, down to an average of $30,000 per report in 2016.

Ngo Bartel encouraged workforce professionals in attendance to use research as the starting point in engaging employers. In interviews and surveys, the secondary data collected from public sources may not illustrate the entire picture of the workforce environment in a region. By listening to employers and having them validate the data, workforce development boards add credibility to the research as well as build industry partners.

Ngo Bartel also recommended that while workforce professionals already have businesses’ attention during a survey, interview or focus group, take advantage of that “warm lead” and pitch business services that meet the specific needs of the employer as opposed to pitching all of the services. An interview with an employer not only provides crucial information for a report, but can also double up as an assessment for the workforce development system to provide the appropriate solution to a company’s workforce needs.

SDWP makes available its research reports, found online at Another key resource available to those interested in regional demographic and labor market data is the labor market information dashboard at

For more coverage of NADWP, see

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