Findings:

 

Section I: Local Workforce Investment Area Profile

Question # 2: Composition of the One-Stop System

 

Response: Oswego has one full-service One-Stop Center in Fulton.  At the time of our submission of the One-Stop Operator recertification package (October 2004), there was a second One-Stop Center in Mexico.  In January 2005, one-stop operations were consolidated into the Fulton office.  Mexico applied for certification as an Affiliate site in June 2005.  The Evaluation and Franchise Committee approved their application in September 2005.  The website has been updated to reflect these changes.

 

One Stop Center:

 

Career Connection

200 North Second Street

Fulton, NY  13069

 

Affiliate Sites:

 

Career Employment Services (C.E.S.)
A Division of Oswego Industries, Inc.
20 Canalview Mall
Fulton, New York 13069

 

Mexico Career Connection Center

100 Spring Street

PO Box 1320

Mexico, NY  13114

 

Oswego County BOCES
179 County Route 64
Mexico, New York 13114

 

Oswego County Opportunities

239 Oneida Street

Fulton, NY  13069

 

The Passport Training Program was an initial step taken to link affiliate sites to provide comprehensive countywide services.  It was developed and implemented in 2003 and 2004.  The passport training was held at both the center and affiliate sites.  The intent of the passport training was to familiarize staff from the various partner agencies with the full array of services available through the One Stop system and how to access those services.  Staff had the opportunity to network while they learned about the services available.  As a result of the passport training, staff were able to form working relationships and establish referral processes.   Plans are underway to provide continued opportunities for networking and further promote linkages and coordination between the sites. 

Affiliate sites are linked in a variety of other ways.  The One Stop center and affiliate sites are linked by electronic mail – this is used as the main system of communication.  In addition, the Workforce Board established the Partners’ Roundtable as a subcommittee of the Board. All partner agencies and affiliate sites are represented on this committee.  The goals of the Partners’ Roundtable are to reduce duplication in the system, to identify and implement “best practice” customer service strategies and to oversee public relations for the partners.  As the oversight committee, the Partners Roundtable established system objectives.  The objectives focused on system building, communication, technology and training.  The establishment of a system-wide workshop schedule encompassing workshops available at the One Stop Center, affiliate and partner locations was one step taken to build linkages between the sites.  The partners have also established one universal job bank for the system with procedures to ensure all jobs are posted and available to customers at any site.  A Partners newsletter is in development and will be issued in the first quarter of 2006.  Expansion of the swipe card system to affiliate locations is also in process.  Expansion of OSOS to affiliate sites is also being considered.  Finally, a customer satisfaction survey has been developed and implemented at the One Stop center.    

 

Section II B: Local Area Strategic Planning Process

Subsection 1: Summary of Progress

 

Response: In the early stages of the Strategic Planning process, we identified the four targeted industry clusters and the five Human Resource Challenges the appeared to cross over most of these industries.  These challenges are:

-         A flexible workforce

-         Attraction and retention of a skilled workforce

-         Skills development- particularly in math & science

-         The aging workforce

-         Rapid advances in technology

Through a series of focus groups with representatives from each cluster, we were able to narrow down the key human resource challenges for each targeted industry.  These are listed in our final Strategic Workforce Plan.  They include:

 

Energy: 

- The demand for skilled workers will outpace supply through the year 2014.

- The short term nature of outages makes it difficult to recruit workers to meet demand.

- There is an increasing demand for on-site and skilled millwrights, fitters, carpenters, and electrical workers. 

- Basic math and science skills continue to be very important for those entering this business.

- Workers recruited from outside the area don’t tend to stay for very long, thus exacerbating worker shortages.

 

 

 

Hospitality/Leisure:

- The lack of recognition that this industry is a viable career field for all levels of education.

- Our area is viewed as a summer destination only.

- Industry workforce lacks general hospitality training and knowledge about the area’s assets.

- Industry workforce lacks problem solving, customer service, math and multi-lingual skills. 

 - Small businesses and new start-ups have a low tolerance for risk.  

 

Manufacturing:

- A good share of the workforce does not prefer the shift work required in this industry.

- There is a perception that the wages paid locally in this industry are low compared to other areas of the country.

- Rapid changes in technology reduces need for as large a workforce as in the past.

- The industry demands continuous training and retraining and the workforce needs to be flexible and participate.

- The industry’s workforce needs its skills upgraded in graphic interpretation, problem solving and communication and well as core or soft skills.

- Promotion of area, its resources, and job offers of vocation/avocation positions are not well known.

- There is a lack of entrepreneurial spirit in the industry.

 

Healthcare:

- There is a shortfall of a workforce infrastructure (daycare, housing and transportation) to support the industry needs. 

- The perception and recognition of industry is narrowly focused to few occupations.

- The schedule and intensity of the professions in the industry cluster are a challenge.

- The workforce (particularly nurses) is aging out and there are reduced numbers entering the field.

- Basic math and science, leadership and management skills are required for those entering this business.

- There is a lack of business start up basics.

 

Young Professionals:

- There were half as many Generation Xer’s born than boomers so there is less of a recruitment pool of potential employees.

- The young talent pool tends to select a place to live first and then finds employment.

- The young talent pool is skeptical, savvy, self-reliant and swift. Members change jobs frequently and refuse to be confined to traditional work schedules. Members want a voice in leading their work and community environments. They are heavy users of technology for communicating and gathering information. 

- The young talent pool learns in different ways then previous generations (internet, television) and look for non-traditional methods of continuing education.

 

Roger Evans, Principal Economist NYSDOL, has provided us with data that indicates that (in the 2nd quarter 2005) 49.7% of Oswego County’s workforce was employed in one of the four targeted industry clusters.  The Energy industry employs 2,281 or 9.3% of all Oswego County jobs.  Top occupations within the field include; Power Plant Operators, Electrical Engineers and Electrical Power-Line Installers.  Manufacturing employs 3,534 or 14.4%.  Top occupations include; First Line Supervisors, Machinists, and Maintenance/Repair.  Hospitality Leisure employs 3,188 or 13.0%.  Top occupations include; Cooks, Bartenders, and Waiters/Waitresses.  Health Care employs 3,188 or 13.0%.  Top occupations include; Registered Nurses, Home Health Aides and Nursing Aides.  Many of these occupations are projected to experienced a 10-year growth rate of over 10% in the region, including; Food Preparers, Machine Operators, Electrical Technicians, and Home Health Aides. 

 

As part of the implementation phase of tour Strategic Workforce Plan, we will be working with all four industry clusters to identify the skills required for these positions, and any gaps that may exist within our current workforce.  We will also develop plans to address these skill shortages.

 

NYSDOL has contracted with The WorkKeys Center at Syracuse University to provide us with Career Ladder Maps for both the Energy and Manufacturing industry clusters.  The will provide us with a roadmap for both job seekers and students of what career opportunities exist within these industries, and what are the educational and skill requirements necessary to achieve them.  We hope to secure funding to complete maps for the other two industry clusters, or share information with other areas who have successfully mapped these industries. 

 

In January, we will be publishing our next edition of a quarterly “e-zine”.  A new, regular feature we are adding is a questionnaire for business which will solicit information about industry trends, job opportunities and required skills.  The feedback will be forwarded to the appropriate Strategic Plan Implementation Team. 

 

Based on all of the information that will be gathered over the next few months, short-term and long-term implementation plans will be further developed.  Our overall goal is to implement all of the current strategies identified in our Strategic Plan within a 3-year period, or by the end of 2008.

 

The Workforce Board of Oswego County and the System Operator have gone to great lengths to keep all partners engaged throughout the Strategic Planning process.  In January, we enlisted the services of Greg Newton to work with all of the partners on the formation of our Business Services Team.  In April 2004, Newton spent two days on Workforce Development Leadership.  The first day’s session was attended by Workforce Board members and the partners.  At this session, the group identified our four targeted industry clusters and five human resource challenges.  The next day’s session was attended by representatives from all partner agencies.  At this session, front line workers were able to comment on the output from the previous day, and begin to discuss their role in the development and implementation of the plan.

 

In July 2005, after the publication of our Strategic Plan, we brought Greg Newton back to work with our Division of Employment and Training staff on aligning WIA services with the Strategic Plan.  We plan on bringing Newton in again in early 2006 to do a similar workshop for partners so they can understand how they may be able to align their services with the Strategic Plan.

 

Subsection 2: Aligning Service Delivery

 

Response: As mentioned above, The Workforce Board of Oswego County and our System Operator have been working closely with all partners to better align services with key workforce issues.  The Board has taken the lead on issues more strategic in nature, for example the development and the dissemination of the Strategic Plan.  The System Operator has focused her efforts on program alignment.

 

In an effort to bring partners together to address economic development and workforce needs, the Workforce Board formed a Business Services Team.  The Business Services Team includes representatives from all of the partner agencies on the Workforce Board.  The Team meets monthly to share information on business openings, expansions and downsizing with regard to training needs.  Team members strategize on ways to meet the needs of the business community and how to make those plans operational.  The Business Services Team offers a complete view of services that may be available to business including tax credits, training incentives, economic development initiatives and WIA program options. 

 

Business and employers can access services at various entry points through any partner.  Sharing information and contacts – as is done by the members of the Business Services Team – ensures that business needs are met expeditiously.

 

Manufacturing and health care are two of the locally targeted industry that benefited from this collaboration.  A customized training package was provided to an insurance claims processing company.  This training upgraded the skills sets of the claims workers and supervisors.  Successful participants were compensated with raises.  We assisted in referring job seekers to newly created positions.

 

We also completed a customized training package with a manufacturing employer who specializes in aluminum processing.  Workers learned lean management techniques and received ISO certification.  Upon completion, they were rewarded with promotions and/or pay increases.  New job opportunities were opened up for job seekers as a result of the promotions.

 

Subsection 3: Measuring Achievement

 

Response:  During PY’05 and early in PY’06 the workforce board will take a proactive approach to moving the workforce development strategic plan into a WIA oriented operational plan.

 

A staff member from the college and/or the workforce board has been assigned to an industry cluster (for the purposes of this plan we will use the term industry cluster to refer to the attracting and retaining the talent pool as well). That staff member will take the lead in coordination and facilitation of the work plan for each industry cluster. For each industry cluster a steering group comprised of workforce board members, industry experts and other stakeholders will be gathered. Workforce development system partners will also be asked to participate in these groups. Having all parties (stakeholders, board members and system partners) included in the process will make a continuous loop of people focused on the needs of the particular industry cluster scanning the environment to collect the data they deem relevant, using the data, identifying quantifiable outcomes, developing measurement instruments, and communicating to themselves and the community at large. Having board members on these steering groups will streamline and simplify getting each group’s recommendations reviewed and approved by the workforce board through the appropriate oversight committee.

 

In the first quarter of 2006, each steering group will meet with stakeholders to study their part of the strategic plan and identify data elements that have not already been collected. Each group will reach out to the community at large to increase public awareness of the plan in general.

 

By the end of the second quarter of 2006, each steering group will have developed SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented and time determined) action plans for their part of the plan. These action plans will be reviewed and “vetted” by the various committees of the workforce board. Final approval will be obtained by the board in the Fall of 2006.

 

The action plans will include realigning WIA services to address the workforce development strategic plan. The workforce board has already begun to track training opportunities, training outcomes and entered employment by industry cluster and will use PY 05 data as the baseline. For each succeeding year of this 3 year plan, success will be determined based on improving on that baseline. Specific numbers will be determined by July 2006 in preparation for board approval in the Fall of 2006. 

 

WIA program partners will be encouraged to do align their programs as well. The workforce board will host training sessions and request technical assistance from NYSDOL and other state agencies to accomplish this goal.

 

Once approved by the workforce board, the action plans will also be made public and stakeholders will be recruited to assist in implementation. The workforce board has already begun to identify funding streams other than WIA that will be needed to implement the plan to affect workforce and economic gains in the community.

 

 

 

 

Section III: Integration of WIA Compliance with Strategic Planning

Subsection 2, Question # 4: Self Sufficiency

 

Response:  Local policy will be adjusted to comply with applicable statutes and regulations.  We are reviewing the regulations and conducting an assessment of the local conditions to define self-sufficiency at the local level.   Once finalized, this policy will be reviewed by the Workforce Board and filed as an amendment to this plan in the 1st quarter of 2006.

 

Subsection 2, Question # 5: Supportive Service and Needs-Related Payments

 

Response: The local area makes both supportive services and Needs-Related Payments available to customers with household incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.  As specified in regulation, the local area is willing to provide any supportive service necessary to enable an individual to participate in WIA services.   Prior to authorizing a supportive service, a screening is done to document the need and ensure the service not available from another source.   When a supportive service is available through another source (e.g. child care), a referral is made to that source. The chart below identifies examples of the supportive services available through the local area.

 

 

Supportive Service

Description

Auto Repair

Necessary repair if the least costly method of transportation to allow an individual to participate in a WIA service.

Clothing

Maximum of  $150 per activity.

Counseling

$100 for individual/$50 for group sessions

Child Care

Up to market rate while enrolled in training

Driver’s License/Permit

Cost of license if needed for training or verified job offer.

Driver’s License Fees

Cannot be alcohol, drug or child support related and license must be needed to participate in a service.

Gasoline

$25 at Entry to Employment

Groceries

$25 at Entry to Employment

Job-related Safety Equipment

 Protective gloves, boots, headgear, etc.

Job Search Allowance

The actual cost of out-of-area (> 50 mile radius from home) job search expenses (maximum $ 1,500).

Incentive Payments

To reward academic achievement, participation in services, employment, and job retention.

License/Work Related Fees

If needed to participate in an activity.

Life Skills

If needed to participate in an activity.

Relocation Assistance

Up to 90% of the cost of necessary out-of-area (> 50 mile radius from home) relocation expenses.  Maximum of $ 5,000 for a reasonable expectation of long-term employment.

Transportation

Payable at rate of public transportation or $.15 mile for private vehicle.

Tuition/Fees/Books/Supplies

ITA (Adult/DW program only) cap $5,000 (unless Board waiver obtained).  Youth tuition (as approved through RFP process). 

Fees, books and supplies will be covered if not included in the cost of tuition.

Tools/Equipment

Maximum of $500 per activity to accept or retain employment.

Needs-Related Payments

Must be unemployed, have ceased to qualify for unemployment compensation, is for the purpose of enabling the person to participate in services, was enrolled in training services by the end of the 13th week after the most recent layoff, or by the end of the 8th week after the worker is informed that a short –term layoff will exceed 6 months.  Payable at an amount equal to the level of unemployment. 

 

The local area is willing to provide any supportive service necessary for an individual to participate in an activity.  Supportive services to be provided are specific to the need of the individual and evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  Documentation of need for the supportive service will be included in the Individual Service Strategy or Employment Plan.

 

The local area also makes Needs-Related Payments when necessary to allow an individual to complete a training program.  Requests for Needs-Related payments are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and subject to the requirements outlined in section 663.825 in the Federal Register. 

 

Periodic review of polices related to supportive services and Needs Related payments will be conducted as needed or annual basis.

 

 

Subsection 2, Question # 7: Youth Services

 

Response: Youth learn about future job/career opportunities in the area by exploring the labor market.  As part of the case management system, youth are exposed to labor market information and assessment tools.  Youth meet local employers in workshops and through work experiences.  Transportation issues will remain a problem due to the rural nature of the county and limited resources to address the system in total.  However, as youth counselors work with their caseloads and address the needs of individual youth, solutions can often be found   Assistance is provided to youth by finding ways to get to worksites and through financial assistance necessary for car repairs or insurance.  In order to make more people aware of the program, we have had features in the local newspaper.  Plans are to explore getting publicity features in the student newspapers.  The Career Connection newsletter could be distributed to local education facilities as another way to engage the community in the Career Connection.  The local Board will collect and report on  literacy and numeracy common measure data through the One Stop Operating System (OSOS).  We are in the process of developing a method for certification.  A recommendation will go to the Youth Council in the 1st quarter of 2006 to name the following types of certificates as outcomes for youth:  High School diploma, Individualized Education Plan, General Education Diploma, Job Specific Skills, Health related certificates (i.e. Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation and Red Cross), classroom training completion, and NYS license certifications.

 

 

In addition to the previously stated goal regarding the Youth Summit, the Youth Council intends to apply for the WIA dollars coming through the Youth Bureau system to expand services to youth.  The Youth Council also intends to focus efforts on increasing school involvement after the successful implementation of the Youth Summit.  Plans are underway to make this an annual event.  The Youth Council will work in partnership with schools and business to identify needs and provide a forum for sharing this information.  Adding a new Youth Council member who is a counselor at BOCES and chair of the county counselor group is a first step in these efforts.

 

Comprehensive guidance and counseling and work experience have been procured through the Request for Proposal (RFP) process.  Employment and Training was the agency selected through the RFP process to operate these services.  These services will continue in PY ’06.

 

A youth who “requires additional assistance to complete and educational program or hold and secure employment” will be defined as a youth who:

--has limited work experience, limited being defined as fewer than six months in unsubsidized employment, or

--is provided with assistance through the school system (i.e. IEP, 504, Resource), or

--has poorly defined career goals (i.e. non-existent or unrealistic)

 

Subsection 2, Question #8: WIA Adult & Dislocated Worker and Wagner-Peyser Services

 

Response:  WARN notices are filed through a Statewide WARN Coordinator.  The Statewide WARN Coordinator then contacts and advises the appropriate Regional Rapid Response Coordinator of the WARN notice filed in their region.  The Regional Rapid Response Coordinator contacts the local area when either employees or employers in the workforce area are impacted by the lay-off or closing. At the local level, the information regarding the general announcement of a plant closing is immediately shared with staff through electronic (e-mail) notification.  It is then followed up in discussions at weekly staff meetings.  Staff from the One-Stop are identified to coordinate with the regional representatives and participate in Rapid Response meetings.  As a first step, attempts are made to obtain a listing of employees who will be affected.  Basic information relating to eligibility (e.g. names, addresses, phone numbers, job titles/wages, employment status, etc.) is collected prior to the Rapid Response session whenever possible.  The sessions are generally held at the employer’s place of business (although sessions have also been held at the One Stop Center).  General information on available services is shared through Rapid Response sessions. Impacted employees are made aware of the services available to them, the process for accessing services, and invited to use the One Stop Centers and meet with staff to further discuss eligibility for services and develop a plan to meet their needs.

 

Service providers request to be placed on the locally approved provider list by applying to the Workforce Development Board.  A preliminary determination is made after consultation with the One Stop Operator.  Based on several factors including status with the State Education Department, ability to meet the needs of customers, and the requirements of WIA, the service provider may be approved.  Feedback is collected from customers though questionnaires and focus groups.  This is shared with the service providers, is discussed at Workforce Development Board meetings, and is available for job seekers and the general public in the Career Connection.

 

 

Subsection 2, Question # 9: WIA Title IB and Title III PY’05 performance & System Indicators

 

Response: Internally an in-depth analysis of WIA programs is done monthly.  The report encompasses participant and financial data.  It shows the year-to-date actual progress in comparison to year-to-date and year-end plans.  Performance outcomes are included.  A corrective action plan is part of the process.  This is discussed with members of the senior management team and between the One Stop Operator and the Workforce Development Board director.  This review culminates with the WDB in Executive Committee and the full board meetings.

 

Line staff is part of this process as well as they are an integral part of managing program performance and meeting fiscal responsibility.  Case managers and Career Connection Resource Room staff meet weekly to review the customer base who are accessing training programs or who are ready to be exited.      

 

 

 

OBSERVATIONS

 

The local plan (including local policy) is currently available on the website (yourcareerconnection.org).  If a policy decision is made after the plan is submitted, it is issued as a resolution and included on the website.  The local website includes all resolutions passed by the board since the implementation of the Workforce Investment Act.

 

In the event a grievance or complaint is filed in the local area, a process is in place to review the information at the front line and Senior Team levels.   The same process used to collect and act on customer satisfaction data would be followed.  The complaint or grievance would be reviewed at the Senior Team level (in consultation with front-line staff) to gather information to determine the validity of the concern(s) expressed and the appropriate course of action to respond to the concern(s).  The information relating to the concern would be reviewed at the senior team level to determine if changes to client flow or customer service processes are necessary to improve services to customers.  This information would be discussed at the weekly staff meeting and shared with the Workforce Board Evaluation and Franchise committee.  Examples of changes that have been made in response to customer concerns expressed have included changing the lay-out of the resource room, purchasing new software to meet customer needs, and updating to keep pace with technology changes (e.g. USB ports vs. floppy disks)

 

The chart below outlines the training agents approved through the local RFP process to provide youth services for the period 7/1/04 – 6/30/06.

 

Youth Program Element

Training Provider

Drop-Out Prevention

--Tutoring

--Study Skills

--Instruction

Oswego County Opportunities

(community based organization)

Alternative Education

* Oswego County School Districts

Summer Linked to:

--Education

--Skills Training

Oswego County Employment and Training

Guidance and Counseling

Youth Advocacy Program

Oswego County Employment and Training

Work Experience

Oswego County Employment and Training

Skills Training

Oswego County BOCES

Leadership Training

Youth Advocacy Program (community based organization)

Oswego County Youth Bureau

Supportive Service

Oswego County Employment and Training

Mentoring

Youth Advocacy Program

12 Month Follow-Up

Oswego County Employment and Training

 

* Alternative Education is a service already available free of charge through the school districts in Oswego County.  There was no response to the RFP process for this service.  The local area ties in with these services already available through the schools.

Another community based organization, Liberty Resources, was also approved through the RFP process to provide Drop-Out Prevention services.  However, they notified the local area they would not be available to provide these services due to a reduction in staff.  A new RFP will be issued in January, ’06 to cover the period 7/1/06 – 6/30/08.

 

The Youth Council is a committee of the local board responsible for directing and overseeing the delivery of youth programs. The Youth Council issues the RFP, solicits proposals for youth services, and reviews and approves the training providers to deliver youth services.  The Youth Council also reviews financial and program reports relating to WIA youth services.   The Youth Council reports to the Board.  Board staff are responsible for monitoring the financial and program aspects of WIA youth programs.