Nancy Dischinat, Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board (LVWDB)
I recently held a media roundtable to discuss what is new here at LVWDB and the PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley. We are excited to announce the Employer Engagement Center and other innovative programs that align with our vision, mission, and goals.
May 22, 2017
Anthony SalamoneOf The Morning Call
To Nancy Dischinat, that's easy: finding workers in an era of falling unemployment.
But what isn't always easy is making connections between employers and job-seekers, said Dischinat, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board.
To help bridge that gap, the organization will open an "Employer Engagement Center" around July 1 at the Workforce Development headquarters on East Union Boulevard in Allentown, Dischinat said Monday.
"It's a simple solution," she said of the center. "Tell us the jobs, skills and education you need, and we'll help you find the workers for you and get the engagement party started.
"It's going to be a stop-in center for employers that are looking for workers, looking for training, looking for training dollars, looking for data, looking for wage information, looking for a trained workforce," Dischinat said.
Dischinat organized a roundtable event Monday with her top administrators to give the public insight into that project and others. The board recently hired John Lamirand as director of data science and analytics to help bulk up its data.
William Bartle, strategic initiatives director, gave an update on a job-training program for inmates at Northampton County Prison, known as the LEAP Project. It has been used by the county for years, but officials bolstered it with a $500,000 federal grant that allowed the board to hire four employees to lead classes and guide nonviolent convicts toward jobs or training.
"Data kind of drove our decision," said Bartle. "Every year we saw more people coming to CareerLink with criminal backgrounds." Last year, he said more than 1,200 people with criminal records visited CareerLink facilities.
Since January 2016, Bartle said, 147 released inmates had enrolled in the program. Of those, 81 either found jobs or studied in vocational-training programs. He said 36 of the released inmates — about 24 percent — have been returned to jail, a recidivism rate that's about half of the jail's normal return rate.
"It's been a great program," said Dan Keen, the county's director of corrections. "The more that we can do to get these individuals prepared on the inside, the more likely they are not going to come back to jail," he said.
A 2014 federal law, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, provided governors with latitude on programs in their states based on industry needs and in-demand occupations. For the Lehigh Valley, it means such things as improving career services for those between the ages of 18 and 24, said Cindy Evans, director of youth initiatives.
"We need to get those youth working," she said, "and a lot of our youth don't have good role models to push them along and ... put them into a good path."
Expect to see more promotion of services available at Workforce Development. Dischinat was taping a video about the board's work after the roundtable, and plans are in place to upgrade its website.
"There is so gosh-darn much service available to individuals," she said. "I want to make sure they know it."