Workforce GPS (GPS) and the Innovation and Opportunity Network (ION) are two virtual components of WIOA that offer different resources, grants, announcements, online training, and personalized accounts to help Americans find employment.
The online portals also offer ‘Communities’ and ‘Collections’. According to the information provided on Workforce GPS, “Communities offer you the chance to find resources on specific topics, programs, or initiatives–all while engaging with peers on those matters that most interest you.” Essentially, communities are a place for members to share their experiences and create conversations on specific topic areas. Collections on the other hand are “curated resources on a specific topic, program, or initiative. ETA has gathered resources on the following topics to make it easier for you to find information that helps you with strategies, planning and implementation.” ION and GPS offer a total of 15 communities and 13 collections. The categories range from agriculture, to youth, apprenticeships, visa workers and more.
The GPS and ION portals also offer online training sections with more than 25 different online training modules. These modules are designed to help educate people on WIOA and “improve program performance”. The training portals themselves do not offer any training for employees seeking work. The training is meant to help employers who are looking to incorporate WIOA.
These and other available materials are categorized into a resource library by geographic locations, states, industry sectors, target population, programs and activities. While the library offers a wide variety of material the ‘views’ of the articles and pages show that these resources remain widely unused.
Views, Likes, and Training
The ‘views’ and ‘likes’ portion of the GPS and ION pages provide one way to measure the effectiveness of the program. While searching through the different categories of communities, collections, and ION resource libraries you can see how many people have viewed or liked particular materials. The vast majority of resources available do not even have 1,000 views and no more than 10 likes. To be fair there are certain materials that have over 1,000 views, but even then the numbers are not that impressive. Very few materials succeed in having more than 10,000 views and 10 likes. This becomes even more concerning when you take into account the amount of time it has taken each of these posts to get such traction. There are a number of available resources that have zero views and zero likes on the website, despite having been up since 2004. ION and GPS is falling short, to say the least, of informing people of the potential resources and opportunities available to them in the job market. There is a lackluster participation by the general population who need help access the job market.
As mentioned, the website also offers online training tutorials, but these are not for skills training, certificates, accreditation, or job training. The training portal helps employers and participants navigate through the grant system, WIOA, and the ETA’s reporting data. These resources are mostly helpful for employers looking to apply for grants. The website simply acts as a social media platform for participants to discuss their best practices and strategies for implementation, but the viewership participation numbers shows the website is not doing that effectively. If we were to think of GPS and ION as being similar to a business we may ask what is the customer acquisition cost? Essentially, how much does it cost for the DOL to attract a user to the website and to use it services? And the next question becomes: is the spending on these operations worth it in proportion to how many people the services actually helps or reaches? Using GPS as an example, it is clear that the general public is either unaware or uninterested in the resources made available by the government. Abysmal participation and viewership numbers provide evidence (albeit not entirely conclusive) that the American people are not buying into the resources offered by the government.
Actual Training Programs
To find actual training and available careers, a job seeker must go to careeronestop.org. If a job seeker does not know about this website they have to navigate through the DOL website, find the proper agency (ETA), click on the jobs and career tab, and then click the link that redirects the user to the website. This process needs to be made easy for jobs seekers and the website needs to be made available in a more efficient way. However, once an individual finds their way to the website there are useful resources to help people find jobs. There are samples and guidelines for Resumes, cover letters, and job applications that can all be found here. The tabs and different resources are easy to navigate, informative, and clear for job seekers. Perhaps some of the most useful information the website provides is the find training tab which helps job seekers find ways to pay for training (such as grants, scholarship, and financial aid), lists the different types of training, and helps people choose what training is right for them. This can all be found on the website here. The website helps connect people to local resources here; helps connect specific demographics (laid-off workers, youth, older worker, veterans, youth, workers with criminal convictions here; and helps applicants find opening and explore careers here. While the website provides clarity and organization, there is no data provided with how many people are actually aware of these resources, use them, and have actually found success through them. If the numbers are comparable to that of GPS then we must analyze why these resources are reaching so few people with so many workers in need.
Recommendation and Conclusion
The government should consolidate and condense the online portals for available resources. It is clear that ION and GPS do not have the viewership the government hopes for and instead of operating an entire website ION and GPS should be condensed as tabs on careeronestop.org for efficiency. This will also decrease the cost for the ETA in maintaining and operating an inefficient website. With the money saved from cutting waste, the government could run an efficient campaign to inform the American people about the variety of services available to help people get back to work. A targeted campaign promoting a revamped careeronestop.org could increase the participation rates, inform people that resources are available for them, and actually help place people into jobs that fill the gaps employers are looking for.