Strategic Plan for Industry- Based Collaboration & One-Stop Integration

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1 Passaic County Workforce Investment Board Strategic Plan for Industry- Based Collaboration & An Addendum to Passaic County s Five-Year Strategic Plan Submitted by: Cathy Smith, Chair Lanisha Makle, Executive Director Passaic County WIB 930 Riverview Drive, Suite 250 Totowa, NJ 07512

2 Passaic County Workforce Investment Board Strategic Plan for Industry-Based Collaboration Table of Contents I. Introduction II. Economic Landscape of Passaic County III. Supporting Our Key Industries IV. Collaboration and Optimization V. One-Stop Program and Service Delivery VI. Implementation

3 Strategic Plan for Industry-Based Collaboration I. Introduction Passaic County is located in the heart of Northern New Jersey and is part of what is considered the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area. The County offers easy access to New York City and other metropolitan areas via automobile, bus, freight and passenger train. There is also ready access to three international airports and the Ports of Elizabeth and Newark, making Passaic County a desirable place to both live and work. With a population of close to 500,000 and a private sector labor force of nearly 240,000, the County is a significant economic player in the Northern New Jersey region. Like all Counties it is focused on both developing the skills of its workers to create a pipeline of qualified employees, as well as on creating an infrastructure of supports and services that make the County an attractive place for businesses to start and grow. An addendum to Passaic County s Strategic 5-Year Plan, this plan focuses on two primary goals: Alignment of local workforce development initiatives with the needs of Passaic County businesses and with ongoing economic development efforts at both local and state levels, as described in the Governor s Economic Growth Strategy. Optimization of our workforce development system resources to make the system more flexible, efficient and effective. In meeting these goals, three major factors have shaped our planning process. First, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) recently awarded a WIRED grant to the North Jersey Economic Innovation Alliance (NJEIA), a partnership of nine northern New Jersey counties that includes Passaic. This grant brings new resources to the area to establish a regional effort that will strengthen the economic and workforce development activities within the nine counties. In the work plan that the Alliance recently submitted to the USDOL, the Alliance identifies the priority industries for the nine counties and outlines three transformational goals and associated supporting strategies for achieving those goals. These goals are as follows: Create and foster an environment where economic development, education, workforce systems and industry stakeholders within the region proactively collaborate to leverage assets that help sustain and grow the regional economy. Build a regional coalition of economic development, education, workforce systems and industry to align programs, link unemployed and underemployed residents in the region Passaic County WIB 3

4 and fill jobs in industry sectors with existing shortages and anticipated growth to bridge the regional economic divide. Accelerate regional economic revitalization by sparking innovation, small business development and entrepreneurship and create partnerships among industry, academic and capital sectors. Passaic County has played a significant role in developing these goals and formulating the plan. As a result, the WIRED plan s goals and strategies have had an important impact on the development of this plan. The second key factor impacting planning in Passaic County is the construction of a new One- Stop Career Center on the campus of Passaic County Community College (PCCC). Historically, the County s One-Stop services have been fragmented and siloed, with little co-location of Partners. With the move to the PCCC campus, however, comes an unprecedented opportunity to plan for functionally integrated One-Stop services built literally from the ground up. As discussed later in this plan, the One-Stop, PCCC and the Passaic County Technical Institute are using the process of planning for the new One-Stop to operationalize and formalize their traditionally strong informal relationships. The goal is to create a functionally integrated system of services that is aligned with local business and job seeker needs and that optimizes and leverages each Partner s offerings. This strategic planning process provides additional opportunities to strengthen the system being developed. The third factor influencing our plan is the economic make-up of Passaic County. As we discuss below, other than healthcare, Passaic County does not have a large concentration of businesses in particular industries. In fact, the vast majority of companies fall into the small business category (20 or fewer employees), across an array of industry areas. Rather than focusing strictly on traditional industry categories, then, we have also had to look at the workforce needs of small businesses, across industry categories, in order to properly support our economic base. The Planning Team Actively participating in the development of this plan were the Chair and the Executive Director of the Workforce Investment Board, the President and Director of Continuing Education from the Passaic County College, the Superintendent of the Passaic County Technical Institute, a representative from the County Economic Development Department, the One-Stop Operator, the regional Business Services representative from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD), local LWD representatives and a representatives from the Board of Social Services. Each of the partners is fully committed to the strategies described in this plan. Passaic County WIB 4

5 Organization of This Plan Our plan includes the following: Strategic Plan for Industry-Based Collaboration & A more detailed description of Passaic County s economic landscape. A discussion of our key industries, the issues and challenges they face and current initiatives underway in support of those industries. A description of the collaborative partnerships between the WIB, One-Stop, Passaic County Community College and the Technical Institute. II. The Economic Landscape of Passaic County Passaic County s current economic landscape and development initiatives are shaped by several issues, from infrastructure and commuting patterns to the County s mix of businesses and recent regional economic initiatives. As indicated earlier, Passaic County is home to a wide array of businesses in a number of different industries. The second largest industry in the County is healthcare, which includes both large charity-care hospitals as well as a number of smaller facilities for long-term care, etc. While healthcare provides a large base of employment, the majority of the County s businesses are small and medium-sized companies providing products and services across a range of industries. This means that working with particular industries means working with a somewhat fragmented and scattered group of employers, as opposed to 3-4 large ones. This also means that developing entrepreneurial skills and supporting entrepreneurial ventures must be critical components of our County s economic and workforce development efforts in support of economic growth. Part of understanding Passaic County is understanding how the County fits into the larger regional context. As stated in the beginning of this plan, while Passaic County is an economic entity of its own, it is also part of a larger regional network of employers and workers. A significant proportion of County residents commute to surrounding counties and New York City; whereas, similar numbers of residents of neighboring counties community to Passaic. This means that many of the individuals who are educated in Passaic County are actually taking their skills to the surrounding areas to work where, in many instances, they can earn significantly higher wages. Because of these factors and the importance of workforce development, being responsive to both businesses and job seekers extends our sphere of responsibility beyond the boundaries of our county. Finally, another key factor that shapes Passaic County s economic landscape is the fact that it is a county of extremes. Like most Northern New Jersey counties, extremes exist in educational levels, with residents clustered at both the high and low ends of the educational spectrum. Passaic County WIB 5

6 Educational levels determine both the types of jobs residents can perform as well as the types of businesses that tend to locate here. We also see extremes in our geographic settings, as Passaic is dominated by both large urban areas such as Paterson, as well as less developed swaths of land in the upper Northwestern tier of the County. Also, there are extremes in income among our residents, with many subsisting below the poverty line, while in other areas there are great concentrations of wealth. These income differentials create vast disparities in access to education, transportation, housing, reliable childcare, etc., which, in turn has a significant influence on the businesses we attract and the range of workforce supports and services we must offer. III. Supporting Our Key Industries Through both our County strategic planning process, as well as our work with the other counties in our region to develop the WIRED work plan, we identified the following: Overarching business issues, as well as goals and strategies to address those issues. Priority industries and strategies for addressing the needs of those specific business. In this section we discuss our findings and our plan for aligning and optimizing our resources to better serve business needs. Overarching Industry Issues, Goals and Strategies The system-wide industry issues and strategies discussed below incorporate Passaic County s priorities and resources, as well as those of the WIRED grant. Issues within each industry were identified and will be addressed based on the needs of our County. Similarly, the strategies developed to address those issues reflect both current local initiatives as well as our desire to leverage regional activities, such as the WIRED grant. 1. Issue: During our planning process, it became clear that Passaic County has a number of assets to support workforce and economic development planning. However, awareness of these assets exists in pockets, and not all stakeholders know about all available programs and services. Therefore, the team believes that identifying Passaic County s key assets is critical in order to better inform our marketing and planning processes for the future. Goal: Develop an asset map of Passaic County s capacities to both support the asset mapping activities of the WIRED grant, as well as provide information for use in developing a local workforce branding and marketing strategy. Passaic County WIB 6

7 The WIB will set up a structure for overseeing a local asset-mapping project and ensuring its implementation. The WIB, with the support of economic development, PCCC and the One-Stop will convene industry focus groups in support of asset mapping and to support the WIRED grant. Resources have been developed to help WIRED recipients conduct asset mapping. We will explore using those resources as a framework for conducting our own asset-mapping activities. The results of the asset mapping process will be shared with all stakeholders and used in the development of the County s marketing/branding plans (described below). 2. Issue: Passaic County is already in the process of exploring how it can brand its business services and market these services to local industry. More effective branding and marketing is also a key goal of the WIRED initiative. Goal: Create a Passaic County Workforce System brand and market that brand to local businesses. The Passaic County WIB has recently formed a Marketing Committee that is examining the issue of developing a common brand and identifying the products and services to sell to local businesses. (need more details on work so far) The results of the asset mapping process will be integrated into the development of the brand and the marketing plans. The WIB s branding process and marketing plans will be integrated into the branding and marketing plan being developed through the WIRED initiative. 3. Issue: While a great deal of information on careers and educational opportunities currently exists, local information on how to prepare for and advance in various career areas and industries in Passaic County is not currently available in a format that is userfriendly for job seekers to make informed decisions. During our planning process it became clear that in order for us to support industry needs for pipelines of qualified workers, we need to develop clear career path maps that communicate to all stakeholders how to prepare for and move through key occupations in our area. This information should be specific to Passaic County and reflect the resources that are available to workers and businesses in our region. Passaic County WIB 7

8 Goal: Develop and implement clear career maps, including educational preparation and work requirements for demand occupations in key industry sectors to allow for clear communication with job seekers regarding job opportunities and career path preparation. The WIB will work with industry advisory groups already developed by the Technical Institute and PCCC to identify key occupations within each industry and the academic/work preparation requirements for moving through those occupations. The WIB will explore the use of Apprenticeships and mobile training. Prepare user-friendly career maps for key career areas that will clearly communicate to job seekers the educational and work requirements and available resources for accessing training, jobs, etc. The WIB will work with local companies/industries to identify tuition remission/reimbursement programs to incorporate into career maps, enabling job seekers to more clearly see strategies for moving along an education and career path while working at particular companies. The One-Stop will train staff in the use of these career maps for career and job search counseling. The WIB s Youth Council will ensure that career maps are shared with all local stakeholders, including middle and high school students and parents, schools, etc. 4. Issue: As we develop our career path strategies, we also need to explore expanding educational opportunities to support these strategies. Goal: Explore developing additional dual enrollment opportunities to better connect the educational programs at each institution and to maximize learning opportunities for students. PCCC and the Technical Institute have already developed common planning processes for developing and connecting curricula. They will bring the One-Stop and WIB into these processes by sharing agendas, labor market information, etc. as a building block for supporting greater connectivity within the system. As educational programs are developed and/or revised, PCCC and the Technical Institute will identify opportunities for dual enrollment and develop the necessary linkages and connections. Passaic County WIB 8

9 5. Issue: Transportation is a major issue in the county for certain industries, particularly retail, when it comes to connecting qualified job seekers with available jobs. The Passaic County WIB and One-Stop Operator participated in the planning for the County s United We Ride (UWR) Integration Plan. Strategies developed include leveraging and utilizing our local transportation resources to better connect workers with jobs. Goal: Connect workers with jobs by addressing transportation barriers. The PCWIB and One-Stop Partners will work with the UWR team to implement those strategies identified in the Plan to ensure that industries/ businesses and industry corridors most impacted by transportation barriers will be addressed. The WIB will explore identifying how best to leverage existing funding as well as identify new funding opportunities to provide more effective transportation services to workers. 6. Issue: To create an effective pipeline of workers for our local businesses, there is a need to provide more and better career exploration activities and information to young people locally. While schools are doing the best they can to provide these types of services, the workforce system and its partners need to be more involved in and proactive about this process. Goal: Increase career exploration opportunities and information for young people. The WIB will target youth funding to support programs that connect youth to key industries, particularly healthcare, entrepreneurship and science and technology. The Youth Council will work with schools, career academies and youth programs to develop strategies for ensuring that young people have up-todate career information to assist them in making informed academic and career choices. Key Industries and Industry-specific Goals and Strategies Through our planning process, the Planning Team identified four priority industries: Healthcare Entrepreneurship Retail Passaic County WIB 9

10 Science and Technology These industries were selected based on a variety of criteria, including size, economic importance, availability of workers, and resources available to serve these industries. In this section, we review each industry and identify the strategies that will be pursued in order to meet each industry s particular needs. Healthcare Industry at a Glance: Healthcare industry jobs are separated into three career paths--patient Care, Science and Technology Application, (which healthcare shares with the Science and Technology industry) and Administration. Individuals working in healthcare need to have strong interpersonal and communication skills, computer literacy, and the ability to work as a team. In addition, healthcare workers must keep up with new technologies, and be open to improving their skills and learning new medical procedures. Description and Issues Healthcare is the second largest industry in Passaic County, employing, 23,000. Key employers include the major hospitals and health systems St. Joseph s Healthcare System, Barnert Hospital and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ (UMDNJ) School of Osteopathic Medicine, Kindred Hospital, St. Mary s Hospital. Healthcare has been selected as a priority focus for several reasons. In addition to the WIRED grant, healthcare has recently been added to the revised list of high growth industries under the Governor s Economic Growth Strategy. Further, demand for healthcare continues to grow as the population ages. In fact, 5 of the top 20 occupations with the greatest employment growth are in healthcare more than any other industry. Accounting for more than 2,300 jobs, these 5 occupations are indicative of the growth across the industry as a whole. Specific demand occupations include Registered Nurses, Medical Secretaries, Certified Nurse Assistants, Medical Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Medical Laboratory Technicians. A significant proportion of the hospitals in the County operate under the charity care system, which is currently facing a financial crisis. Just keeping the doors open on a daily basis is a major challenge that stresses these hospitals abilities to provide services to patients and competitive wages and working conditions for workers. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that County residents can easily commute to surrounding counties where better wages and conditions are readily available. As a result, there are chronic shortages of workers, particularly in skilled nursing positions. Home health care is another major source of local healthcare jobs, but lack of reliable transportation often makes it difficult for the target pool of workers to take these positions. Passaic County WIB 10

11 While all positions are facing shortages, the problem is particularly acute for CNAs, LPNs and RNs. Again, the primary issue is keeping trained nurses in the County. While Passaic County Community College (PCCC) is currently expanding its slots to train 120 nurses, the regional marketplace for jobs means that many of these individuals will be lured to surrounding counties. Current Initiatives The Passaic Technical Institute currently provides CNA and LPN training, while PCCC provides RN, Radiography and Patient Assistant training. (Patient Assistant is the hospital version of a CNA). Extensive articulation agreements exist between the Technical Institute and PCCC and PCCC is also collaborating with William Paterson College to create linkages to the Bachelor s degrees program. The College indicated that creating an academic path from CNA through RN is a challenge, however, because the required coursework for each area does not necessarily overlap. Strategies for Addressing Healthcare Industry Needs To address the needs of the Healthcare Industry, the Planning Team has identified the following strategies: PCCC has agreed to be the lead organization in the healthcare sector for the WIRED grant. In this capacity, the College will take the lead in creating a regional Industry Advisory Board. The WIB, College and Technical Institute will be involved in recommending Passaic representatives to that Board. PCCC, the Technical Institute and the One-Stop Career Centers will identify appropriate assessment tools and develop an assessment process that will provide better screening for individuals interested in healthcare careers prior to referral to training. The WIB and One-Stop Career Centers will work with local healthcare organizations to explore the development of job shadowing activities to increase opportunities for exposure to occupations in the industry. The WIB and One-Stop Career Centers will explore using local hospitals as CWEP sites for WorkFirst New Jersey customers interested in healthcare careers. The College will work with other WIRED recipients to replicate PCCC s successful High Growth Job Training Initiative project that has expanded the RN program at Passaic County College and helped to provide training to Patient Care Associates. PCCC will be continuing its own program as well. Entrepreneurship Industry at a Glance: Passaic is a County of small businesses, with fewer than 9% businesses employing more than 20 people and most of the job growth coming from small business. Because there is so much economic opportunity in the small business arena, we see Passaic County WIB 11

12 developing the entrepreneurial skills of our residents and providing them with ongoing access to the resources to support growing and maintaining a business as keys to the County s economic growth. Description and Issues One of Passaic County s strengths is that it provides fertile ground for launching and growing a small business. In fact, a significant portion of our job and economic development is a result of the growth of small businesses with 20 or fewer employees. These small businesses cut across a variety of industries, with companies in healthcare, manufacturing, retail, import/export, etc. What they have in common is a need for entrepreneurial skill development and supports for running a small business. What we are also seeing in the County is that entrepreneurial skills for all employees are increasingly being sought by both small and large firms. In addition, many occupations now offer opportunities for workers to make a career out of contract work where they lease their technical skills to businesses, rather than working as permanent employees. Entrepreneurial skills are critical for this group of people as well. One challenge to the growth of entrepreneurship in our community is that not all residents see small business ownership as a viable career path. Further, if they do consider starting their own firms, they may not understand the resources that are available to help them develop their skills and launch their businesses. Because small business is such an important part of the County s economic vitality, providing entrepreneurial skills training and access to a variety of small business supports is key to our County s economic growth and ongoing success. Entrepreneurship is also an area of focus in the WIRED grant. Our efforts in this area will allow us to both contribute to developing regional entrepreneurial capabilities as well as leverage the region s resources to help our own community. Current Initiatives Passaic County Community College, in cooperation with William Paterson College, offers a 33- hour Entrepreneur Certificate Program using the curriculum developed by the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. Courses are relatively inexpensive and offered in a modular format so that students may take an individual course or the full certificate program. In addition, the County College has a 5-year grant to create a Community Technology center to support Hispanic populations. The initiative will help small business owners develop their business plans and integrate technology into their businesses. It will be located to the One-Stop Career Center (when the new Center is completed) and is near the Small Business Development Center. Passaic County WIB 12

13 Strategies for Supporting Entrepreneurship Strategic Plan for Industry-Based Collaboration & As discussed later in this plan, the WIB will be forming an Assessment Committee to develop a business-based assessment process. One of the areas of assessment that will be included is assessments and processes to help people determine if entrepreneurship is an appropriate career goal for them and to help them identify the resources and supports they might need. The WIB will work with the One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute to develop entrepreneurship career path-type information so that we can promote entrepreneurship as a viable career choice and career path, just as we would promote careers in specific occupations. The WIB, One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute will work with the Small Business Development Center (SBD) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to develop a map of services and supports to provide to individuals interested in pursuing entrepreneurship. This would show connections between programs, how to access resources, etc. The WIB will convene a Task Group to conduct a needs analysis to determine the entrepreneurship services and supports that may be necessary for individuals exploring the possibility of entrepreneurship but who are not yet ready to work with the SBA and the SBDC. From this information, the group will develop a plan for providing pre-entrepreneurship supports to help individuals who are not yet ready for the resources and supports of the SBA and the SBDC, particularly to help people to become independent contractors or operate one-person businesses. The WIB, in partnership with the One-Stop will develop of a plan to connect the resources and services of the One-Stop s Business Resource Center with the SBDC to better leverage and utilize the strengths of each. Ideally we will create a single point of contact process that provides comprehensive supports for starting and running a small business. We will work with PCCC and other stakeholders to explore strategies for helping individuals get started in specific small businesses, such as child-care, catering, real estate, etc. This might involve providing introductory workshops and/or a series of trainings culminating in a certificate. The One-Stop and PCCC will explore strategies for integrating entrepreneurship activities and training into the Adkins Life Skills series that is currently used with WorkFirst New Jersey customers. This will also be connected to the entrepreneurship career pathing information we indicated earlier that we intend to develop. The WIB will explore the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation for developing an entrepreneurial program. This initiative could provide resources for PCCC as well as the Business Resource Center. Passaic County WIB 13

14 The WIB will participate in the WIRED grant initiative to develop an asset inventory for small business. The WIB will convene local partners to assist in the development of the region s Tool Kit for Small Businesses to be created under the WIRED grant. Retail Industry at a Glance: Fueled by ongoing big box retail construction projects, the growth of several malls and traditionally high turnover rates, employment opportunities in Retail are booming. Occupations in demand include sales (with the highest projected growth of any occupation in the County), customer service representatives, and distribution, marketing and management. Many people get their start in Retail, so positions in the industry often serve as springboard to other occupations. The industry requires strong customer service skills, including effective communication skills, the ability to work well within a team and problemsolving. Description and Issues Retail growth in Passaic County is strong. Retail is also an industry being supported by the WIRED grant. While most positions are entry-level, employers also indicate that they are seeking people with higher-level skills, such as supervisors, managers, merchandisers, etc. Retail jobs also serve as feeders into sales and other positions, making retail a potential foundation for work in other industries. One obvious challenge in attracting workers to retail jobs is the nature of the work environment, which is often characterized by relatively low pay and poor benefits, extensive use of parttimers, and a lack of career advancement opportunities. There is also a challenge in working with the many big box retailers coming into the County. Workforce policies and practices for these companies are often set at company headquarters, rather than at the local level, leaving local representatives little flexibility to try new, innovative approaches when partnering with the workforce system. Current Workforce Initiatives With TANF Supplemental funds, Passaic County College opened a Retail Skills Training Program Center on July 1, This Center will use the National Retail Foundation s curriculum to prepare WorkFirst NJ customers for entry-level positions in retail. There is some concern, however, about the sustainability of the initiative once TANF funds are no longer available to support it. Passaic County WIB 14

15 Strategies for Supporting the Retail Industry Strategic Plan for Industry-Based Collaboration & A Retail Skills Training program is opening at PCCC with funding from WorkFirst New Jersey. This will provide foundational skills training for entry-level workers and serve as a feeder to many local retailers. As part of the WIRED grant, a regional customer service skills curriculum is being developed. The WIB will work with PCCC, the One-Stop and the Technical Institute to implement this training, as appropriate for Passaic County. We will also integrate this training with the Work Readiness Credential, as discussed later in this plan. Under the WIRED grant, there is also a plan to implement a regional Training Center to support Retail career paths into careers such as buyer, etc. The WIB will work with PCCC, the One-Stop and the Technical Institute to support the implementation of this Training Center. The WIB, One-Stop Career Centers, and PCCC will convene a consortium of retail industry representatives to carry out the following: o o o Develop a career path of opportunities from entry-level sales through higher level positions, such as supervisory, management, merchandising, etc. Identify and develop additional skills training programs for higher level positions. Explore strategies for expanding funding for training. As the Xanadu and new stadium projects develop, Passaic stakeholders will explore developing linkages in support of the WIRED grant. Science and Technology Industry at a Glance: Though clearly its own industry, Science and Technology jobs are also found in Healthcare, Information Technology, Utilities and more. With a mean wage of $66,000 a year, Science and Technology is an attractive industry. However, the jobs available are highly skilled and require an investment in education. Key occupations include Network Systems and Data Communications Analysts; Engineering Technicians; Medical Laboratory Technicians; and Electrical/Communications Engineering Technicians. Individuals entering the industry need to have strong math and science skills, be technologically proficient and keep up with constant innovation and technological change. Description and Issues Currently, Science and Technology as an industry does not have a large representation of companies in Passaic County. However, the required skill sets for Science and Technology jobs cut across many industries and, particularly in a small business environment, offer exciting opportunities for entrepreneurship. Further, Science and Technology is one of the Governor s priority industries. Passaic County WIB 15

16 The major issue in the Science and Technology field is attracting people to the associated occupations. Fewer and fewer students are interested in majoring in science, information technology, engineering, etc. Further, as we see greater diversity in the workforce with more women and minorities coming into the labor market, this situation will be exacerbated, as these are the groups least attracted to jobs in this field. Current Initiatives There are a number of resources available in Passaic County to support Science and Technology careers. Passaic County Community College offers degrees in Information Technology Business Technology, Network Administration, User Support Services, Web Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Fire Science Technology and Health Information Technology. It also offers for-credit and non-credit certificate programs in areas such as e-commerce and Network Administration. Both the Technical Institute and PCCC offer engineering courses. The County College has a program with PSE&G on Energy Utilities Technology that allows students to take Engineering courses at the College and participate in a paid internship with PSE&G. The Paterson Public School system has a Science and Technology Academy that was begun through a NASA grant. Strategies for Supporting Science and Technology Science and technology skills are seen as foundational to careers in many other industries. The overall focus in the County is on engaging young people early on so that they are interested in pursuing math and science classes in high school and college, preparing them for a wide range of careers in many of the Governor s target industries. Under the WIRED grant, the region is developing a strategy for implement a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Communications campaign to raise awareness about careers in these occupations. The WIB will participate in the development of this plan and will work with PCCC, the Technical Institute and the One-Stop to implement the communications strategy in Passaic County. As part of the WIRED grant, the region will be expanding and institutionalizing he New Jersey Innovative Partnerships Institute curricula to be used in K-12 and higher education. The WIB will work with PCCC, the Technical Institute and the One-Stop to implement this curriculum locally. Montclair State University, located in Passaic County, has received $1.2 million STEM grant, principally to support Newark. The WIB will work with the University to identify potential strategies and initiatives that could be leveraged for Passaic County. Passaic County WIB 16

17 The WIB will work with the WIRED grant initiative to assess the Science and Technology Academy in the Paterson School District and determine potential strategies for replication and innovation. The WIB will work with PCCC, the One-Stop and the Technical Institute to identify existing resources for attracting women and minorities to occupations in Science and Technology and work with schools to implement programs at the middle and high school levels. IV. Collaboration and Optimization For Passaic County to effectively meet business needs, the WIB, the One-Stop, Passaic County Community College (PCCC) and the Technical Institute must all work together to collaboratively plan, develop and deliver services. In this section of the plan, we will discuss: Collaborative planning to meet business needs. The development of our integrated One-Stop Career Center. The collaborative delivery of specific services, such as assessment, job referral, etc. Collaborative Planning to Meet Industry Needs Currently, there are a variety of structures and processes in place to support collaborative planning to meet industry needs in Passaic County: The One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute are all members of the Workforce Investment Board. In that capacity, they serve on common planning committees, provide reports and updates to the Board on their activities and work together to plan programs and services to meet local needs. PCCC and the Technical Institute each convene Industry Advisory Boards whose members help the schools review and refine curriculum on a regular basis based on changes in industry trends and skill requirements. Where appropriate, representatives from the Technical Institute serve on PCCC s board and vice-versa ensuring information exchange and the development of dual enrollment opportunities. PCCC and the Technical Institute have also developed a number of dual enrollment opportunities and academic linkages to support industry-based training. Passaic County Community College has recently purchased CCBenefits, a labor market analysis tool that allows them to forecast occupational trends. They have begun to share this information with both the WIB and the Technical Institute to assist in industry forecasting and planning. Passaic County WIB 17

18 In addition, there are strong informal relationships among the various organizations, which allow for ongoing collaborative work on a daily basis. However, despite these various collaborative practices, what we discovered in developing this plan is that, as in many workforce areas, workforce planning still tends to be fragmented, based on a specific employer request and/or an organization s traditional role. So, the Technical School and the College work closely together to develop industry-focused training, while the One-Stop works with industries to refer workers. There is no comprehensive, pro-active planning strategy that would address all industry needs in a single integrated fashion. Further, there is no shared database of information that is used for planning, so that each partner has pieces of the puzzle without necessarily having a full picture of an industry s requirements and needs. Goals and Strategies for Improving Collaborative Business Planning 1. Goal: Develop a more integrated, pro-active and comprehensive workforce planning process that addresses all industry workforce needs through a single plan. PCCC, in partnership with the WIB, One-Stop, and the Technical Institute, will sponsor an annual Workforce Conference on Skills Forecasting to explore hiring trends, emerging workforce competencies, business and technology changes, etc. The Conference will include all major stakeholders from the One-Stop, education and economic development The WIB, in partnership with PCCC, the Technical Institute and the One- Stop, will develop a plan to leverage current Advisory Group activities and create a more comprehensive planning approach that includes both educational and other workforce/hr components. 2. Goal: Ensure that all stakeholders have up-to-date information on job requirements, business trends, training resources and programs, etc. The WIB will work with all partners to identify key labor market information for workforce decision-making, available resources for obtaining that information and strategies for sharing the information with all partners. The One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute will develop a plan to more effectively share data and information between partners and to ensure that information is up-to-date. The plan will identify both traditional strategies for sharing information, such as periodic meetings or conferences, as well as technology-based solutions. Passaic County WIB 18

19 The Technical Institute and the PCCC will provide the WIB and the One-Stop with written updates on labor market trends and other information on industry needs that is identified during Advisory Board Meetings. Use the Workforce Conference described above as a vehicle for educating all workforce partners on changing industry requirements so that the system could determine how to adapt to these changes. The College s CCBenefits labor market information and other LMI would serve as the foundation for discussion. Conference participants would then discuss how this information impacts curriculum, services to industry and how workforce staff communicate job requirements to job seeker customers. The WIB will identify trade associations related to local priority industries and establish linkages and relationships with these associations to identify opportunities for greater information exchange and collaboration. and Facility Development A critical component of Passaic County s strategic plan is the new One-Stop Career Center facility that is being built on the Passaic County Community College campus. This new facility has given the One-Stop, PCCC and to a lesser extent, the Technical Institute, an unprecedented opportunity to create a fully integrated, comprehensive One-Stop system that leverages the strengths and resources of all partners. Through this new location, we will be able to provide higher quality, more responsive services to both businesses and job seekers in our County. Planning for the new facility has been going on for over a year. Led by the Freeholders, WIB and PCCC, the One-Stop Operator and Partners have been meeting regularly to review blueprints and work with the State to develop facility plans that will physically support functional integration of services. In addition, they have been working to develop common policies and procedures, an integrated customer flow and shared human resource practices, where possible and appropriate. Development of functional job descriptions and common career planning practices are also part of their work. Another key focus of integration is in Information Technology. Recognizing the role that technology plays in providing services to businesses and job seekers, IT staff and key leaders from the One-Stop and PCCC have been developing a technology integration plan that will allow for better data sharing and leveraging of each Partner s technology resources. The team will also use the technology plan as a platform for exploring more innovative technology practices, such as online interviewing that employers could do from their own locations. In addition, the One-Stop Operator has formed a team of management and frontline staff to address customer flow and related issues. Passaic County WIB 19

20 Despite the many exciting ways in which integration is moving forward, we also recognize that we face many challenges, including the need to develop common standards for customer service that cut across various workforce programs, common policies and procedures and shared strategies for providing various services. We also need to address staff job assignments and staff development. Goals and Strategies for Developing an Integrated One-Stop 1. Goal: Develop a common, industry-focused culture of customer service that is shared by all One-Stop partners. The WIB, working with all of the Partners, will develop a common vision and clarity of expectations for how employer and job seeker customers will be served through the workforce system. Through the planning process for the new One-Stop Career Center, the One-Stop and PCCC have been working to create an integrated service delivery strategy. However, in order for this to be completely successful, we must have a common vision for services that s shared by all the partners. To accomplish this, the WIB will convene a Committee to: o o o Develop a common vision and guiding principles for providing services to customers Identify the key service functions to be provided through the workforce system and establish common business-based standards for providing those functions Articulate the value-add that the workforce system will provide to business and job seeker customers in the provision of key workforce functions. Build upon the current planning processes that are taking place in support of integration. In the current planning process, PCCC, the One-Stop and the Technical Institute are trying to define common approaches to working with customers, common policies and procedures, etc. They are also addressing human resource issues, such as having a common staff directory, dress code, etc. As the WIB committee described above works on developing common standards, etc., this operational group will incorporate these standards into their work. 2. Goal: Make more efficient, effective use of new technologies to improve services to job seekers and businesses, leveraging the improved technological capacities of the new One-Stop Career Center location and Passaic County Community College. The WIB, One-Stop, PCCC and Technical Institute will work with local businesses to identify service needs that could be addressed through more Passaic County WIB 20

21 effective uses of technology, for example, using webcams to allow businesses to interview candidates at the One-Stop from their own facilities. The One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute will work with local job seekers to identify service needs that could be addressed through more effective uses of technology, in particular exploring opportunities for e- learning, developing career plans, etc. As part of the One-Stop Career Center planning process, the One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute will convene a team of stakeholders to research technology options and develop potential strategies for use with businesses and job seekers. The One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute will develop and test pilot programs to explore the use of new technologies to provide better services to businesses and job seekers. 3. Goal: Provide One-Stop Career Center staff with appropriate training and staff development to prepare them to work more effectively with businesses and job seekers to meet business needs. The One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute will identify core skills and knowledge that all staff should have, regardless of the funding stream with which they are working. Potential areas include assessment, career planning, understanding and using labor market information, understanding the global economy, and using new technologies for professional development and to improve customer services. The One-Stop, PCCC and the Technical Institute will develop and implement a training plan to provide common training, leveraging training resources from all funding streams and using the opportunity to create a common One-Stop culture. The One-Stop, the College and the Technical Institute will identify specialized skills and knowledge that staff will need to perform new functions (for example, training for specialized industry representatives). The One-Stop, the College and the Technical Institute will develop and implement a training plan for these specialized needs, leveraging funds and providing common training across stakeholders as appropriate. V. One-Stop Program and Service Delivery In this section, we describe current practices in delivering key workforce functions and identify strategies for addressing our opportunities for improvement. Passaic County WIB 21

22 Job Placement and Referral Strategic Plan for Industry-Based Collaboration & Job placement and referral refers to two types of activities providing employers with access to qualified job applicants and supporting job seekers in the job search process. Referrals to Business To meet business needs in the job placement and referral process, employers have consistently indicated that they want single point of contact access to qualified workers who have the job search, career management, workplace readiness and technical skills to be successful in a competitive work environment. Ideally, they would like job seekers pre-screened and clearly able to meet the requirements of the job. Currently, job placement and referral processes in the workforce system are fairly fragmented and the processes do not necessarily support business needs and expectations. Job placement and support services occur in silos and are based on the program in which the customer is enrolled. For example, training vendors are responsible for providing job placement services to job seeker customers who go through training, ES staff work with customers who go through Core services and case managers are responsible for the referral and placement of WFNJ customers. During the planning process, our WIB Chair was clear that local businesses want to work with One-Stop staff who have specialized expertise in their industry. They also want assessment and screening services that mirror their own practices and ensure that referrals to business will reflect industry requirements and qualifications. The One-Stop will identify staff to serve as specially-trained industry representatives to key industries. These staff will become experts in the industry, understanding business trends, human resource needs, and the applicant screening processes used by these organizations. Staff will then be responsible for educating job seeker customers about the needs/opportunities of the industry and for appropriate screening and referral of applicants to companies in their specific sector. The One-Stop will identify screening/assessment tools and processes currently being used by key companies in each targeted industry cluster. The One-Stop will develop a plan to use these tools and processes in the One- Stop Career Centers to provide businesses with more appropriate referrals and to more effectively prepare job seekers for opportunities in the sector. In support of the WIRED grant, the One-Stop will develop policies and procedures for supporting fast track events to meet the mass recruitment needs of employers. Passaic County WIB 22

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