As a follow-up to brief, Suddenly Virtual: Workforce Services, Eight Weeks Later, the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development now offers Suddenly Virtual: A Review of Workforce Area Websites in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, which looks at the online resources and services offered by the 206 local workforce areas in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The goal of this comprehensive review, by Heldrich Center Research Associate Liana Volpe, was to gain a better understanding of the extent to which local workforce areas have an online presence and how these individual areas are making information available online to their customers and job seekers more generally during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Heldrich Center reviewed the websites and social media pages for every local workforce area in the four aforementioned states. Three main themes emerged in the review of One-Stop Career Center online services:
- Many areas had created COVID-19 resource pages.
- Areas were focused on digitizing existing workshop content and curricula and putting that information online.
- One-Stops were providing services online that they typically provided in-person, such as job search workshops, sharing of job leads, and job fairs.
Heldrich Center researchers also compiled a series of noteworthy practices and standout local areas by state. Through surveys and roundtable discussions with frontline staff, researchers found that a majority of frontline staff feel that the need for virtual services will remain in place, despite ongoing discussions about staff returning to physical office spaces. Moreover, frontline staff notes that they believe adaptations for virtual operations have largely been for the better. For this reason, the Heldrich Center hopes to encourage idea sharing and collaboration amongst local workforce areas and across states as many in the public workforce system continue to adapt and adjust workforce operations to be effective in a virtual space.
Overall, the Heldrich Center has observed the strength and care of local workforce area staff and more generally the public workforce system’s agility and resilience during the pandemic.