Key lessons that Skills for Chicagoland’s Future learned during the first year of operation were:
1. Employers are Motivated to Partner with SCF
The gap between the number of unemployed and underemployed and the number of posted positions demonstrates the opportunity for demand-driven organizations to partner with employers to address their hiring and training needs. Early in the execution of the model, we found that employers were not only willing to partner with SCF to address their civic responsibilities in the area of unemployment but also interested in utilizing an organization such as SCF to source talent. Employers have also shared their willingness to partner with SCF due to the professional nature of our staff and the ability to provide high quality job-ready candidates quickly.
2. Ramp Up Period with Employers
While SCF was able to demonstrate success quickly in the first year, we learned that we needed a longer ramp up period to move from selling our new model to actually delivering results. In retrospect, we would have utilized the ramp up months to focus largely on engaging new business clients as partners with delivery of placements to immediately follow at the 3 –6 month mark rather than requiring these two responsibilities to immediately intersect. As a new organization or function, we’d recommend providing yourself with an appropriate ramp up period to obtain client commitments to partner.
3. Stigma and Negative Perceptions of the Unemployed is Real
Research conducted by the Boston Federal Reserve confirms that the long-term unemployed face much greater challenges than newly unemployed individuals when trying to find a job. The longer a person is unemployed, the less attractive they become to employers. To combat this some qualified candidates even misrepresent themselves to disguise their work experience or current state of unemployment.
4. Support from Local Champions is Crucial
Executive champions in the community are vital to send a market signal that a demand-driven model to address unemployment and underemployment is a civic priority in one’s community. A local champion that was crucial for success for SCF included the City of Chicago and Mayor’s Office as they have provided key startup funding that helped launch SCF as well as providing introductions to companies hiring in Chicago. Additional local champions have included key civic leaders and CEO’s from companies that have shared the importance of SCF and its importance in the workforce ecosystem.
Skills for Chicagoland's Future
191 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 1150
Chicago, IL 60606