Serving Utah Valley’s Workforce Needs

Monday, August 05, 2019

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One of the biggest hurdles facing employers today across the country is recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce. The Utah Department of Workforce Services is one of the best-kept secrets for tackling this challenge.

Workforce Services helps businesses find qualified candidates, uncover important economic data and access resources for unemployment insurance as well as human resources compliance. It also provides a slate of services for job seekers.

Recruitment Assistance

“My main role is to work with employers to help them meet recruitment their needs, whether the jobs needed are part time, full time or seasonal,” says Workforce Development Specialist Patrick Donegan.

Companies can post job openings on the Workforce Services website for free. Donegan says staff can walk employers through the posting process and help them optimize their listing to get more hits from job seekers.

Employers can peruse resumes, drag promising candidate applications into a file for easy access and send a mass email to 20 individuals through the online system. “It’s a nice way for employers to actually do some outreach and network with potential job seeks,” Donegan says.

Workforce Services also educate employers about current economic data and employment trends.

Donegan notes that employers are contending with a low unemployment rate (2.6 percent) in Utah County. Because there aren’t as many job seekers, employers are having to find ways to be more competitive in attracting talent.

One way to do this is to raise wages, according to Donegan. “Companies will have a hard time hiring if their wages are lower than a competitor,” he says.

The Workforce Services website allows employers to find valuable information for making informed decisions on such matters, including wage comparisons by region or occupation and average industry wage by county. Staff members are available to help navigate the website and data.

Resources for Job Seekers and Employers

Workforce Services is also an important resource for those seeking jobs. Candidates can get help searching for jobs and exploring potential careers. They can attend workshops and find training opportunities to hone their skills.

The organization’s online job system is a useful tool. Donegan says they want as many job seekers to register for online accounts as possible. Applicants build a profile in the system with details about their education and experience and receive notifications when there are matching postings.

Along with other community partners, Workforce Services organizes a free Utah Valley Job Fair each year to promote networking between job seekers and employers. “It’s a great event that has been very successful. We’ve had almost 3000 job seekers attend,” says Donegan.

Workforce Services has details about training and internship opportunities. It participates in Talent Ready Utah (TRU), a consortium working to connect educational institutions with companies in high growth industries to offer apprenticeships.

A federally funded on-the-job training (OJT) program is available through Workforce Services that benefits both job seekers and employers. OJT provides workers with hands-on experience and employers are reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the wages they pay to qualified employees for up to six months. “It helps employers offset wages while training someone and bringing them up to speed,” explains Donegan.

Qualified job seekers can also access employment internship opportunities (EIO) through Workforce Services where they can work one to 40 hours per week. Participating employers are reimbursed 100 percent of a trainee’s wages for up to three months and supervisors also receive a stipend each month for their mentorship, up to a total of $450.

Donegan notes that it’s a good way for workers to try out a position. If the experience goes well for both parties, the employer has the option of hiring the trainee on a permanent basis.

Workforce Services recently helped a job seeker with a criminal background who was struggling to find gainful employment. He had maintenance experience but wasn’t able to continue fulfilling the physical demands of such work due to a disability.

The job seeker qualified for on OJT as well as assistance from the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation. He completed 10 weeks of administrative training with a construction company that was subsidized by these programs. After the training period, he was hired full time.

Donegan points to this as a win-win success story. “It’s a good paying job that is not labor intensive,” he says. “We were able to support both him and the employer.”

Learn more about Workforce Services. 

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