What will we be celebrating next New Year's Eve? That's the question I posed to my leadership team as we sat down for a meeting Dec. 31. We weren't there to rehash our accomplishments of 2015, though we are proud of what we did accomplish. Over the past few months our organization has begun a transformation from program-centered to customer-centered, and while that is transpiring it is important for us to look at the big-picture items and overall perspective rather than focus on the individual triumphs.
We are working on a five-year strategic plan oriented toward the vision that connectivity is key and we want to be the center point for all things workforce in our region. In applying this vision, we are shifting the paradigm from focusing on programs (which have outcomes that are necessary, but not sufficient) to focusing on our employers as customers, to advocate for what they want to accomplish in their life and businesses.
Over the past few months we have held multiple focus groups and have also been speaking one-on-one with employers. We met with community leaders, executives and business owners. Those who work with us currently or have used our services in the past know a little bit about what we do, but others only knew about the specific services they had received from CareerSource Suncoast. One business executive said, "we used to have to work around the workforce board and now we're working through the workforce board as they've elevated their vision to be a coordinating resource." When asked if they knew about the variety of training resources we offer, another employer said "I didn't know they did that." Our job is to close this gap between these opposite sides of the spectrum.
Our story is always a hard one to tell. What exactly is a workforce board and what does it do? As part of the 2015-2020 strategic plan, we will work on telling our story in a consistent, simpler way. Our career coaches will develop their reputations in the community as the experts to go to for career growth. Employers will seek out our talent consultants as the specialists in fulfilling their talent needs. We will develop job seekers to specifically meet employer needs, upskill current workers and expand our fee-based services to provide a comprehensive solution to hiring needs.
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The programs we offer are just a means to our customers' end. It begins with keeping employers at the center of
our decision making and processes. What are their needs? What are their fears? What makes them tick? By focusing on the employer as our customer and not just the programs, we stretch ourselves and employers to become better and live in a growth mindset.
We have a lot of work to do and change doesn't happen overnight, but I am confident that on Dec. 31, 2016, we will be celebrating accomplishments from this new strategic path as well as looking ahead. We will continue the conversation with employers and use their feedback to deliver an amazing experience and transform lives.
Ted Ehrlichman, president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast, writes about workforce issues across the region.