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ETA Releases Two New Research Reports on Connecting UI Claimants to the Workforce System and the Experiences of Three States in Developing Social Media Strategies for Employment Assistance Programs
Jan 6, 2017

The Employment and Training Administration has released two new research reports. Training and Employment Notice 27-16 provides full background on the two reports. Report links and synopses follow.

Strategies for Connecting Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claimants to the Workforce System: Findings from the Implementation Study of the UI Workforce Connectivity Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Labor (Department) has continued to explore strategies to improve UI claimants' access to re-employment services provided through the public workforce system to speed their return to work in good jobs with good wages. The use of virtual service delivery methods to administer the UI program has steadily increased since the 1990s and now most UI claimants apply for and maintain their benefits primarily via the internet or phone. As a result, many claimants are physically disconnected from the workforce system and are often unaware of how to access the range of reemployment, job search, career counseling, and training services available to them. Moreover, the automated systems for filing UI benefits claims and accessing re-employment services are often separate, with limited or no connections between them, making it cumbersome and confusing for individuals to navigate between the two systems. The challenge is how to best connect UI claimants to the services available on-line and in the one-stop centers.

In 2010 the Department established a workgroup comprised of workforce leaders at the local, state, and national levels, and partnered with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) to develop a shared national vision to improve connectivity between UI program service delivery and reemployment services provided through the workforce system, both through one-stop centers and virtually and to promote innovative reemployment service delivery strategies for all job seekers.

To advance this new national vision the Department partnered with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies Information Technology Support Center (NASWA/ITSC) to provide grants to states to implement strategies and technology tools that embodied the different elements of the vision, now referred to as the UI Reemployment Connectivity Project (the project). As part of the connectivity grants program, the Department sponsored an implementation study of the Reemployment Connectivity Project.

Overall, there appeared to be clear benefits to implementing the elements that were part of the connectivity project. However, further evaluation is needed to more clearly gauge the impact of those services and whether they result in sufficient benefits to UI claimants.

Experiences of Three Stages in Developing Social Media Strategies for Employment Assistance Programs

The country's workforce system is continually in need of effective strategies to connect job seekers to job openings and to facilitate rapid entry into suitable employment. One promising tool is social media. Given its explosive growth as a primary communication method in both the professional and personal realms, social media potentially offers the workforce system a way to enhance the job search process and improve employment outcomes. In particular, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is examining social media strategies to improve Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants' access to employment services provided at its American Job Centers (AJCs) with support from the Wagner-Peyser and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs.

As part of its State Demonstration Projects in Providing Reemployment Services to UI Claimants (commonly known as the UI Workforce Connectivity Project), DOL provided grants in 2011 to three states to develop and use social media tools for the workforce system. These three-year grants enabled the states to develop new opportunities and modify existing service delivery processes using social media tools as a way to improve employment outcomes for job seekers, including outreach to job seekers, connecting job seekers and employers, and promoting networking among job seekers. To assess the effectiveness of these tools, DOL sponsored an implementation study of the grants.

While using the social media tools appeared to be useful and resulted in time savings and productivity gains for agency staff, job seekers, and employers, thoughtful implementation of these tools should be exercised to account for the unique circumstances and environments the programs operate within.