It’s the news that no community wants to hear: a major employer is closing or downsizing their local site, leaving hundreds of workers without jobs. If this happened in your area, would you be equipped to create an informed strategy for not only getting those people re-employed but also making your area’s workforce more competitive in the long term?
This is a challenge facing many more communities this year as a result of the recent economic downturn. Having worked closely with hundreds of community colleges, workforce boards, and economic development groups, EMSI has the decision support tools and consulting services that have been successful in such situations across the U.S. If your community is facing a layoff situation and needs expert advice, contact EMSI to learn more about how we can help.
Read on for more details about the challenge and EMSI’s capacity to respond to it.
The Problem: A Weak Labor Market
While the U.S. financial crisis has been making headlines in the past several weeks, fewer people are focusing on the weakness in the labor market. Many people may even be unaware that the economy has slowly been losing jobs since December of last year, and unemployment has risen from 4.9% in January to 6.1% in September, the highest level since 2003.
It is natural in times like these for people to think about going back to school and gaining new skills to make them more competitive in the labor market. This is already turning into increased demands on career centers, workforce development groups, and community colleges. These important local organizations are on the frontline of workforce development. They not only help individuals find new employment, but also help create regionwide strategies to ensure a competitive and productive workforce for years to come. These same organizations, however, often do not have the capacity to gather the level of information needed to respond strategically in situations like this.
That’s why EMSI has spent the past several years understanding regional workforce development needs and gathering the best available information to support decision-making. We have comprehensive labor market information, employment projections, occupational skill profiles, college program information, and other relevant data. We also analyze and present it in a way that aligns with regional workforce development need.
EMSI recently pulled all this information together in a report titled “North Central Ohio Career Transitions,” which provides information needed to create a regional strategy for dislocated workers. Please take a look at this report to see the type of analysis made possible by EMSI’s data.
Two other case studies illustrate the use of EMSI’s services and tools in layoff scenarios:
- EMSI, Maher & Maher work to transform Iowa town after Maytag closure
- Threat of job loss leads to innovation in south-central Pennsylvania
EMSI can provide multiple levels of service, from basic data-driven reports to highly customized consulting.
Responding to Layoffs: Best Practice Outline
As many workforce professionals know, major layoffs are announced via WARN notices, which are required by federal law. Under the WARN act, employers who are closing a site or initiating a mass layoff must notify employees, their representatives, the state’s dislocated worker unit, and the local government.
Following up on a WARN notice, stakeholders can follow these general steps: (1) determine what kinds of occupations are held by the affected workers; (2) evaluate their area’s industry mix and outlook; and (3) use labor market information and skill matching to help workers find jobs in similar occupations or re-train for new occupations.
When a layoff occurs, the highest priority is to find re-employment for the affected workers. This can be done with one of two major strategies: (1) find immediate re-employment in jobs that use the workers’ current skill sets; or (2) use this event as an opportunity for workers to receive re-training for jobs with a different or expanded skill set. These new jobs may be at scattered employers across the region, but another option is to transform the layoff into an economic development opportunity by recruiting a new employer (requiring similarly skilled workers) to the same site — especially since workforce availability is becoming a major site selection priority.
Helping the dislocated workers find new jobs in their current occupations involves data on industries, occupations, and real-time job postings. Past and projected occupation data indicate whether the occupation has a strong track record of employment growth and good future potential. Industry data and staffing patterns help analysts predict which local business types will be most likely to hire workers in the given occupation. (This information is found in EMSI’s Economic Forecaster module.) Real-time job postings, aggregated in Strategic Advantage’s Job Search module by EMSI’s partner EmployOn, are searchable by keyword, standard occupation title, and standard industry name.
Helping dislocated workers re-train for new occupations is more of a challenge, but it also might be a better long-term strategy for the region. While planning a re-training strategy is complex and varies by situation, generally those involved want to minimize training time/cost while maximizing employability. An essential starting analysis involves scanning the region for growth in occupations having similar skill sets to the workers’ former occupations. EMSI can do this instantly using labor market data and information from O*NET, and we can even show the top knowledge and skill gaps in each case. And finally, thanks to our occupation-program bridge, we can in many cases highlight which area colleges offer relevant programs.
Call EMSI Today to Learn More
With the right information and strategies, a major layoff doesn’t have to be a disaster. Instead, it can be transformed into an opportunity to recruit new businesses and “up-skill” your region’s workforce.
Contact EMSI today to learn more about how our data, reports, and customized consulting solutions can help your community respond to potential dislocations.