The DOL YouthBuild TA Collaborative will soon be sharing resources to help programs make the most of the required Job Developer position. These tools will help to lay the groundwork for understanding both the internal (participant) focused work and the external (employer/post-secondary education or training provider) focused work that must be accomplished for successful post-program placements.
This article raises several insights and considerations related to good placement practices that have surfaced throughout 2017 as DOL and YouthBuild USA have worked to identify and collect promising practices in placement.
What is your organization’s philosophy about placement? In order to assess this, ask these questions about your program:
- Do you see placement as just one aspect of program design in YouthBuild or a goal toward which all other components are oriented?
- Do you see placement as the responsibility of all staff or a few?
- Are you thinking about placement near the end of the program, as a focus for exiters, or at the beginning of the cycle, as a focus for your new students?
- If you are part of a larger sponsoring organization, what is your sponsoring organization’s philosophy about placement, and how does that align with your program’s philosophy?
- When you consider your partners, whether education or vocational training partners or partners for supportive services, are you clear about their role in assisting to support positive placement outcomes? Are they clear on their role?
Your philosophy and attitude toward placement drives your strategies and actions, which drive the attainment of positive youth outcomes. Have an honest conversation with the full YouthBuild team regarding how placement fits into the central mission of your program and how it factors into program improvement by you and your staff.
Ask your staff to define placement. Is your team aligned in the ways that they understand placement, both as a WIOA performance indicator and as a program function? Placement is only a short-term achievement without strong retention strategies. Does your team understand the importance of placement retention and the ways in which the quality of the placement and the post-placement program supports can impact retention? Be clear that when you say “placement,” your team has a shared understanding.
Placement Staffing Structure
How is your placement function staffed? The type and level of resources that are allocated to the placement function drive what is possible for your success in this area. Regarding your placement staffing structure . . .
- What skills and experience do you look for as you hire for the placement function – someone who understands employer needs? Someone who understands how to prepare young people for employment? Both? What about the necessary connections to post-secondary education and training providers and how to prepare youth for success in these opportunities? Given the rest of your staff structure, expertise, and roles/responsibilities, what do you really need in placement staff?
- If you are a Construction Plus program, do your placement staff understand the nuances of placement in your additional in-demand training industries?
- Do you have placement staff who are specialists? Generalists? Both?
The Job Developer resources will provide strategies to support a strong employment placement staffing structure. Know your baseline staffing structure and current expectations so that you are clear about what adjustments may need to be made in 2018.
Challenges and Opportunities
What are the challenges and opportunities facing your program and its placement practices?
Are you . . .
- clear about your typical performance in this area and ways in which you could improve?
- using data to assist in understanding successes and challenges of placement in your program?
- solid in your understanding of both placement and retention as it relates to particular barriers that your young people face?
- differentiating among opportunities across different industries? In employment vs. post-secondary education vs. training?
- developing and maintaining partnerships? Are you seeking new avenues for partnership, such as through the One-Stop system or industry associations and apprenticeship sponsors?
The key is to assess the possibilities for increased success, and to identify places where you need to shift program practices in order to improve overall placement for your program. Invest time now to get clear about your program’s overall philosophy and model for placement. Be clear about how you define placement as well as the organizational structures currently in place to support placement. Lastly, agree on a set of opportunities and challenges that your program faces when it comes to both placement and retention and how to seize the opportunities and mitigate the challenges.
Next, watch your email for information on the upcoming Job Developer resources. Whether you are preparing to begin a cohort or have a cohort in place now, these resources and staffing strategies may strengthen your program and your overall performance in placement and retention.
This archived webinar recording from May 2016, From Engagement to Placement: How to Build Partnerships with Employers, explores strategies and approaches to support placement, including staffing structures, engagement levels, and many other successful practices used by different programs.