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N.C. Workforce Board Uses Innovative Approach to Job-Training Programs

Charlotte Works, the workforce board for the Charlotte area of North Carolina, knew it needed to try something different when Siemens Energy approached the panel in 2010 looking to hire skilled workers for 1,000 newly created machinist, welding and mechanical assembly jobs.

So with the help of Siemens and Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte Works developed an online screening tool that allowed the energy company to sift through thousands of résumés in an efficient way along with coordinated training programs that together revolutionized the workforce board’s ability to help not just Siemens, but also other employers in the area, find the talent they are looking for.

Rather than sifting through paper résumés, the system took “job interest” applications using questions developed by Siemens that allowed for “apples to apples” comparisons of candidates. The goal was to move qualified candidates to higher levels of screening, testing and then pre-employment training.

“Then, because we owned the data, we could look and make referrals to other companies or send some people back to school for additional training,” explained Steve Partridge, CEO of Charlotte Works.

The database system now contains information for more than 10,000 Charlotte-area job-seekers.

“It was a huge win for us, and we learned a lot about how companies hire,” Partridge said. “If someone comes up and says, ‘I need to hire 25 welders, who do you have?’ we look at the unemployed database and take a snapshot of what we have.”

“It’s clear that without the data, we can’t make any informed decisions,” he continued. “It really gave us what everyone wants — real-time data. We need to know what our workforce looks like. With this, we get a really good snapshot of our workforce.”

Partridge said he hopes the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act emphasizes the importance of data and analytics in better connecting businesses with skilled workers and in helping unemployed workers access training for in-demand jobs.

“Between the community colleges and the workforce boards, the data exists,” Partridge said. “It’s just how to make it available to the employers.”

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