Getting Back to Work: Has Your State or Regional Workforce Agency Developed a Workforce Development COVID-19 Recovery Plan?

Roe Falcone - Regional Director of Operations with EDSI ·

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are currently immeasurable. Many employees are facing job loss and perhaps struggling to provide for their families while employers are dealing with a huge disruption in the workforce: the strain of daily business operations, temporary or permanently closed businesses, supply chain complications and more. In these trying times, we believe it is more important than ever for states and regions to consider effective strategies for aligning resources, education, training, and job opportunities to build a strong workforce.

Research indicates that 60 percent of organizations don’t have a fully documented disaster recovery plan, and further, it’s estimated that only half of businesses will make it out of a disaster successfully.*

Scary? Yes. Manageable? Definitely. We believe developing a cohesive and collaborative COVID-19 recovery plan is a critical step for a successful public workforce system response.

In the article below, we share key steps to consider, ideas, and best practice COVID-19 responses to help you develop effective COVID-19 recovery plans in your region.

6 Steps to Consider When Building your COVID-19 Recovery Plan

In these trying times, we know it’s important to your region to connect as many individuals as possible to employment or career and training services. Creating a hardworking plan to recover from this pandemic will help your public workforce system to better serve employers and jobseekers alike. As you work through the project, you’ll gain insight as you identify and prioritize immediate, mid-range, and long-term recovery strategies, and you’ll collect feedback on system alterations and virtual enhancements that will provide a more integrated service delivery system in our current environment, and into the future. Below are 6 steps to consider as you get started.

Step 1: Collaborate

Identify and engage your workforce development partners in the region to listen to and assess their needs and identify their capacity to deliver on COVID-19 recovery strategies and recommendations.

Step 2: Facilitate Partner Engagement and Outreach Activities

Conduct interviews and facilitate ideation sessions with partners and employers. It may also be necessary to survey team members to collect additional perspectives.

Step 3: Generate and Review Recommendations

Review findings from interviews, ideation sessions, and surveys with the project team and generate implementation plan recommendations. Review and discuss the recommendations with the partners.

Step 4: Develop Draft Plan

Develop a plan with strategies to address items such as:

  • recommendations for immediate jobseeker connections to training
  • recommendations for immediate business services outreach and support
  • managing current system capacity
  • training for workforce system staff
  • collaborative partnerships and referral systems
  • streamlining services for jobseekers
  • assessment of technology needs to support virtual service delivery
  • prioritization of populations or industries to be served
  • requests for additional funding if applicable

Step 5: Review Draft Plan with Project Team and System Partners

Gain feedback and perspective form frontline staff and partners to improve the plan and gain buy-in.

Step 6: Finalize and Implement Your COVID-19 Response Plan

Implement the strategies and recommendations from your plan to align resources, education, training, and job opportunities to continue building a strong workforce in your region. Be sure to spend time identifying the developing critical tools and resources and ensuring that workforce system staff has access to them to promote successful outcomes.

Best Practices

Your plan is likely to include implementing solutions that you may not have tried before. Below list of best practices we’ve implemented in workforce systems across the country in order to help them to continue to serve customers, employers, community partners, and internal staff.

Call Center

Create a call center to address communication needs. Calls to an 800 number could be answered centrally and forwarded to the appropriate point of contact, whether they are onsite or working remotely.

Virtual Outreach, Enrollment and Case Management

As an alternative to in-person meetings, use emails and texts as ways to inform customers of how they can access services virtually. Virtual WIOA enrollment would begin with phone calls being forwarded from the call center to the appropriate staff member to facilitate eligibility and program enrollment. These are some ideas that can be used to successfully facilitate the communication process between workforce system staff and clients:

  • Virtual Meetings – Use computer software that allows video conference meetings so you can feel more connected in lieu of in-person meetings
  • Virtual Enrollment – Consider utilizing a service specializing in the secure transmission of confidential data to transfer social security and identification documentation between new enrollees and Career Advisors as well as software solutions for electronic signatures
  • Digital Outreach – Ensure you have a strong social media presence and are able to digitally recruit prospective participants
  • Calendly – This plug-in adds a calendar link to each staff member’s email signature, allowing participants to click on it, access the staff member’s calendar and schedule a meeting with real-time calendar availability
  • Family Advocate Access – Consider adding Family Advocate roles to your program design. Staff can refer individuals in crisis to a family advocate. These counseling professionals connect participants to available community resources (virtual or in-person).
  • Consistent Check-ins – Via phone, email, text, social media or video conference

Virtual Employer Recruitment Events & Job Fairs

Learning Management systems or other online platforms create a forum to host virtual job fairs that connect employers and jobseekers. Jobseekers are able to meet directly with employers. Employers offer resources and information about their company and open positions through handouts, links to their webpage, videos to watch and one-on-one interview time slots to meet with candidates. Other resources include presentations, Q&A sessions and more.

Professional Development for Workforce System Staff

Workshops, webinars and self-paced learning modules can be offered online so your great employees can grow, learn and practice self-care in these unique times. Some example topics could include:

  • Remote Working Best Practices
  • Navigating New Virtual Tools and Resources
  • Strategies to Improve Case Note Training
  • How To Have Difficult Conversations
  • De-Escalation Training
  • Language of Appreciation
  • Time Management
  • Leadership Training
  • IT Best Practices
  • HR and Benefits Recap
  • Developing a Great Mock Interview
  • Meditation
  • Yoga/Stretching
  • Nurturing Ourselves
  • Personal Wellness Strategies

Employer Support

Business Services Representatives can tap into existing documents and research – like this information created by EDSI – to share with employers, including frequent updates and customized information on:

  • Layoff aversion: interpreting guidance from the federal government
  • Federal stimulus package: what to expect
  • State and local business support: what is available
  • Managing through a financial crisis: How to continue operations and work efficiently
  • SBA loans: Emergency funding options/resources
  • Public workforce development system: where to find support programs and funding
  • Working remotely: how to support and help workforce transition
  • Employer webinars: Guidance to free presentations by industry experts
  • Free consulting sessions with experts to help companies in these unique times

Please Contact Us if You Would Like Perspective or Assistance

EDSI operates workforce development programs in 8 states and we are currently working with state and local partners on COVID-19 recovery plans. We can customize these plans and best practices by state or region to find the best path forward.

Please fill out the form below or email us at if you’d like one of our workforce development experts to contact you and help you find your solution.