EDSI commits to providing 50 clients with positive role models that help sculpt their career and keep them focused on achieving their goals. It will support these clients with professional and personal development by pairing them with 25 staff members (i.e. career sculptors) from participating employers who will meet with clients virtually over a year, using video teleconferencing when possible. The goal is to increase the retention of clients in EDSI programs and further support economic self-sufficiency through advancement opportunities.
EDSI will select a diverse group of clients from the populations it serves, choosing clients who exhibit commitment in their current programs. It will leverage existing employer relationships to engage employers who are diverse in size and industry. EDSI will also ensure gender parity and provide leadership development contextualized to women.
Career sculptors will meet with clients once a week for the first month to facilitate a positive and sustainable rapport and to establish the years outcomes, including employer outreach, training based on skill gaps, and employer opportunities. They will be trained on active listening and how to have productive conversations utilizing tools, such as the Acumax Index (AI) and Skilldex. AI will be used to understand how clients communicate, process work, and make decisions to increase the clients awareness of the types of jobs most suitable for them. Skilldex surveys individuals skills and employers skill needs and will identify clients skill development gaps based on their career interests and strengths and historical data from employers. Career sculptors (and their employers) will also benefit through their own AI analysis.
After the first month, career sculptors will schedule monthly meetings during which they will provide feedback regarding clients observable behaviors, such as body language during communication and attendance concerns, and provide suggestions for continuous professional growth and guidance on achieving their career sculpting goals. All 50 clients will also receive a financial literacy course.
Lastly, EDSI will provide a virtual platform for clients and career sculptors to share their experiences through blogging. At the end of the year, the client will be more self-aware, have tools for improvement, and understand their specific skill development needs to advance their employment opportunities.
Implementation steps include:
July 1, 2015 December 31, 2015: Identification of the 50 clients over a six-month period to participate across all types of programs: TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), youth, veterans, and ex-offenders. EDSI will target recruitment of 25 women and ten youth.
July 1, 2015 December 31, 2015: Recruit 25 employers who will participate in this initiative, leveraging the existing relationships we have built over the past 20 years providing workforce development services. July 1, 2015 August 31, 2015: Research various virtual tools and create a platform for sharing experiences and blogging.
July 1, 2015 December 31, 2015: Outline all details for Virtual Career Sculpting Plan. Details include a Powerpoint presentation on expectations and commitment, training for the career sculptor, and specific guidelines on what each of the first four meetings should look like to build rapport and target goals for the client.
August 31, 2015 December 31, 2016: Create and maintain surveys of employer and client experience. We will survey at the end of the first month to ensure that the match is good. We will also survey at the half way point and the end of the year. An EDSI staff member will monitor the survey results and follow up with employers and clients throughout the year. We will also be available to offer support and guidance should an issue arise throughout the year.
January 1, 2017 December 31, 2017: Determine impact on program outcomes, tracking client retention and advancement.
EDSI works with a variety of populations; including welfare recipients, disconnected youth, and ex-offenders; and helps them develop skills, gain employment, and better their financial situations. However, while clients may be motivated when they are at the program location, they do not typically receive the support they need from their communities once they leave the site. This issue leads to poor program participation, which can lead to termination and sanction of benefits. This challenge also affects clients ability to maintain employment after obtaining a job, contributing to the cycle of poverty and continual re-enrollment in social welfare programs.
Conversely, employed professionals across the country who want to contribute to their communities through volunteer activities represent a significant source of untapped potential for community support. Yet employers who engage their employees in such activities could benefit from increased employee retention and satisfaction. According to findings of a United Healthcare Survey, current employees who volunteer through their workplace have a more positive feeling toward their employer and report a strengthened bond with co-workers.
There is a socioeconomic gap that does not afford disadvantaged populations opportunities to connect with successful professionals across the country, especially in a meaningful and structured way. Virtual career sculpting provides clients the opportunity to connect cross regionally with employers who they may not ordinarily meet in an effort to understand their strengths, career aspirations, and personal learning and development. Through virtual career sculpting, communities can be connected, benefiting clients, employees, and employers at the same time.