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The economy is changing. Will we be ready? COVID-19 has changed the way we do business and how we do it, and some changes will become permanent. Workers have been profoundly affected in many ways, and they will be looking for more from their jobs. Greater attention will be placed on employers to offer more flexibility, better pay and benefits including childcare, equity in hiring, and career mobility. With competition for talent fierce, employers will be challenged to accommodate these shifting expectations.
During this same period, businesses have accelerated the trend toward artificial intelligence and automation to boost productivity. In addition, companies have capitalized on emerging technology in every aspect of their operations. The workforce will need to cultivate the skills necessary for the new requirements that employers now expect. Preparing for this realignment or course correction during economic growth will be important to ensure prosperity for everyone.
In this edition, I am pleased to announce our reopening and recovery initiatives that NOVAworks and the region have launched. While there are too many to mention, a few community partnerships have been highlighted that present a roadmap to a better, more equitable future.
NOVA Reopens to In-Person Services
Since COVID-19 began, NOVAworks has pivoted to provide virtual reemployment assistance to job seekers and employers to mitigate the pandemic’s economic effects. Through new technology, services were successfully modified to an online platform, with career advising, navigation, workshops, and networking delivered remotely. This change in approach offered both challenges and opportunities. With the decline of COVID-19 cases, rise in vaccination rates and new public health orders, NOVAworks has now reopened its Job Center offices to in-person services by appointment. Customers are being asked to schedule an appointment to ensure that everyone can be accommodated in a safe and socially comfortable environment.
During the pandemic, customers provided positive feedback about the remote services provided. In response, the Job Centers will offer a hybrid model that will include both remote and in-person services, except for the career workshops. Given the current physical space limitations, workshops will continue to be offered online only. By reopening to in-person services, customers who lack reliable access to the internet can now use the Job Center computers for their job search and to participate in online workshops. In addition, the in-person option will provide an alternative for those individuals who prefer the more face-to-face contact.
Due to COVID exposure concerns, some job seekers were reluctant to venture out and look for work. As a result, they stayed away from the one-stop job centers across the state, including NOVAworks. However, the economy is changing, and employers are demanding more advanced technical skills for workers to succeed. For many, this will require retraining to meet the new requirements. As businesses reopen seeking to hire and the extended unemployment insurance benefits expire, NOVAworks is launching an outreach campaign. The intent is to connect with job seekers who may not know about and will need the career services available to them. To learn more about NOVAworks services, visit the NOVAworks website, email email@example.com, or call (408) 730-7232.
Customers Rate NOVAworks Services
Even during the pandemic, NOVAworks continued to survey customers to evaluate their level of satisfaction with NOVAworks Job Center services. The results of the most recent survey were very positive: 97% and 95% of respondents were satisfied with the quality of services at the NOVAworks Job Centers in Sunnyvale and San Mateo, respectively; and 99% and 96% would recommend the Job Centers in Sunnyvale and San Mateo, respectively, to family and friends. Customer comments included:
- “Excellent pivot from in-person to on-line services from Front Desk Team at the Nova job center.”
- “I can’t imagine what I would have done without Nova services.”
- “I was an employer who used the services for employees affected by a RIF [reduction in force]. I knew right where to go when I needed help.”
- “Excellent service.”
- “They helped build confidence in my experience and craft answers to present that experience favorably.”
- “A friend from Hyatt referred me who was referred by another friend from Hilton. Since Marriott had eliminated my job, I am incredibly grateful to have found this support.”
- “Best career support.”
- “High quality services. Not what people think of as a typical government funded organization.”
- “I recommend NOVA very highly!”
- “I love your people and services. It’s like having an ally, a right hand, during my job search.”
NOVAworks will continue to incorporate customer feedback to improve the services delivered to the community.
San Mateo County Strategic Plan for Workforce Recovery
In 2020, San Mateo County companies issued 362 notices of mass layoffs that impacted 22,754 workers, compared to 45 notices affecting 3,459 workers in 2019. San Mateo County also experienced a 44% decline in the number of small businesses open at the end of 2020, as compared to January 2020. In response, NOVAworks embarked on a multi-phase partnership with the County of San Mateo last fall to tackle the impacts of COVID-19 on the community.
An initial $400,000 County grant funded a work experience project and strategic planning process. In partnership with the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center and the San Mateo County Economic Development Association, job seekers, who had lost their jobs or experienced reduced hours, were placed into temporary paid positions during the holidays. The initiative also equipped small businesses with needed workers at a critical time. Information from this project, including lessons learned, was then used to inform a feasibility study to determine the best approach for tackling post-COVID-19 workforce recovery in 2021. A final report, "County of San Mateo Strategic Plan for Workforce Recovery" , was presented to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in March.
In response to the report’s recommendations, NOVAworks was awarded $50,000 to convene a regional think tank of community leaders to design several pilot programs as part of a coordinated countywide workforce development and training plan. The goals include develop an inclusive workforce, support the whole person, target diverse needs, ensure access to good paying jobs, share intelligence and leverage resources, and promote resident choice to varied career paths. The project is expected to be completed by August. NOVAworks looks forward to continuing to work with San Mateo County to address the workforce needs of this community.
Milpitas COVID-19 Workforce Recovery Program
In 2020, Milpitas businesses issued 53 notices of mass layoffs affecting 2,940 workers, compared to 5 notices affecting 306 workers in 2019. At the start of the pandemic, the unemployment rate jumped to 12.8% in April 2020, up from 3.0% the previous month. As with many communities, Milpitas residents and businesses were significantly affected by COVID-19 and the shelter-in-place orders that followed.
In May, NOVAworks launched a new partnership with the City of Milpitas to serve job seekers who live or work in Milpitas and have suffered the economic impacts of COVID-19. The $40,000 project will be implemented in two phases. In the first phase, interviews and surveys are currently being conducted with residents, local businesses, community-based organizations, and workforce development stakeholders to identify needs and explore and vet practical solutions for workforce training opportunities. With an uneven recovery in Silicon Valley, realignment will be necessary between the available jobs and qualified workers.
The second phase will implement the recommendations from the needs assessment and target the essential emerging skills identified in the first phase. Strategies to address gaps may include customized workforce training workshops, skills assessments, career navigation and advising, and upskilling for businesses impacted by COVID-19. The project would specifically target Milpitas unemployed and underemployed workers and young adults and will be completed in April 2022. This approach to a community’s recovery offers promising opportunities to scale to other local governments. NOVAworks is excited about this new collaboration with the City of Milpitas.
Brookings Partnership on Success Formula for Hospitality Workers
COVID-19 and recent racial justice demonstrations have revealed significant gaps and inequities in our society. In addition, unlike previous economic downturns, COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted younger workers, people of color and women. This can be attributed to the industries that experienced the most layoffs and the additional family care responsibilities that women have shouldered due to remote education. The hospitality and leisure sectors, in particular, have accounted for the greatest number of layoffs. Employment there was almost 21% lower than it was before COVID-19, compared to 7% for the economy overall. As we look to the post-pandemic recovery and a better way forward, these sectors, which have traditionally offered underpaid employment with limited career mobility, will need to be examined for systemic barriers and biases that may have served as obstacles to skill development leading to economic security.
NOVAworks is partnering with Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, BW Research Foundation and the Greater New Orleans Foundation to launch two regional pilot programs for displaced hospitality workers. The Hospitality Mobility Collaborative will test an equity-centered method to talent development that supports worker career choice, worker voice, and pathways to quality jobs. The program model will utilize a human-centered design approach that incorporates direct input from impacted workers and partners ensuring the process is tailored to user needs. The intent is to build on evidence from these pilots that will inform policy recommendations and create a success formula for a reimagined talent development ecosystem across the country. This initiative is seeking support from a wide range of policy-makers and funders and is expected to launch in the coming months.
NOVAworks has partnered with Brookings Metro on a number of collaborative ventures including the publication, "The labor market doesn't have a 'skills gap' — it has an opportunity gap" and the project, Spotlight on Local Recovery Efforts.
Update Labor Market Intelligence: Uneven Post-COVID-19 Recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shelter-in-place orders affected the labor force at all geographic levels around the world. These effects were most dramatically felt immediately after the orders were put in place in March and April 2020, but the nation, the state, and all local geographies have yet to fully recover after more than a year.
As in most parts of the country, Silicon Valley was most affected in the Leisure & Hospitality, Transportation, and Retail Trade industry sectors, although nearly all sectors were negatively impacted. Locally, only the Information sector saw growth (+4,300 employees) from the start of the pandemic. Although most industries have come back from the low point in April 2020, the three most heavily impacted industries continue to struggle to return to pre-pandemic employment. Within the San Jose MSA and San Francisco MD, Leisure & Hospitality remains down by nearly 30,000 employees since March 2020; Transportation is down by a combined 10,000; and Retail by nearly 7,000.
With the gradual reopening of the economy, unemployment insurance (UI) claims have declined in recent weeks. In San Mateo County, 1,863 initial UI claims were filed for the week ending June 19, 2021, down from 2,050 claims filed the previous week. In Santa Clara County, 4,115 claims were filed for the same week, down from 4,727 claims the previous week. Yet, claims are still 44% higher statewide than before the pandemic began in January/February 2020.
The labor force dropped dramatically during the pandemic. From February 2020 to April 2020, the labor force in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties fell by a combined 79,900. As of May 1, 2021, approximately 66,800 remained unemployed.
The success of the post-COVID-19 recovery will be dependent on sustained economic growth and a strong and fully participating labor force. To review the latest indicators, visit the NOVAworks website.
Community Responds to the Pandemic
Over the past year, the region responded to COVID-19 with a groundswell of support and action from every sector in the community. The following initiatives represent just a sample of the numerous successes achieved during one of the most challenging times we have ever faced. The work is not done, and many of these efforts have now swiveled from emergency response to recovery and rebuilding a better future.
COVID-19 Bridge to Recovery/JVSV Building Back Better Initiative
Santa Clara County launched the COVID-19 Bridge to Recovery Program (BRP), facilitated by Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. The program convened diverse stakeholders with the intent to address the community’s most pressing needs and larger systemic issues. The immediate goal was getting the most disadvantaged populations back to work. The larger goal was creating an end-to-end workforce development and employment model to address structural inequities. NOVAworks Director Kris Stadelman served on the Leadership Advisory Council of BRP. The program’s work has continued through the Joint Venture Silicon Valley (JVSV) Building Back Better Initiative. This initiative will provide the infrastructure for coordination, research and assembling economic and community leaders to “build back better” and achieve a more equitable recovery.
San Mateo County COVID-19 Recovery Initiative
San Mateo County launched the COVID-19 Recovery Initiative, which began with the development of a long-term strategic plan with input from government and community leaders. The "San Mateo County Communitywide COVID-19 Long-term Strategic Plan" report was released and served as the foundation for a more focused recovery planning effort. The Recovery Initiative then convened more than 160 partners from government, nonprofit and private sectors to tackle key recovery issues through five committees. At the conclusion of this process, a final report, "SMC Recovery Initiative: Creating a Better Future through Collaboration, Advancing Equity, and Inclusion" was released. Key stakeholder groups continue to meet to review progress, identify gaps and provide solutions for the community’s economic, workforce and social recovery. NOVAworks Director Kris Stadelman participates on the economic recovery team.
Silicon Valley Strong: Recovery Roundtable
The Silicon Valley Strong initiative was launched by the City of San Jose to support the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this effort, the Silicon Valley Recovery Roundtable (SVRR) was convened, comprised of 59 Silicon Valley leaders representing business, education, labor and social sectors, with the mission, “to chart a path to a Better Normal for all members of the Silicon Valley community.” SVRR produced a final report, “Building a Better Normal” that outlined six key steps necessary to make the community better than before. SVRR continues its work through an open-source approach, cross-sector collaboration and by monitoring the progress with accomplishing the report’s recommendations.
Santa Clara County Economic Recovery Support Functions
As part of Santa Clara County’s disaster recovery team in response to COVID-19, several Recovery Support Functions were envisioned to problem-solve, improve access to needed resources, and collaborate with government and community partners. Committees, comprised of government and community leaders, were formed to tackle the issues facing the county in community planning and capacity building, economic recovery, infrastructure, housing, health services, social services, and natural and cultural resources, among others. NOVAworks Director Kris Stadelman chairs a subcommittee of this venture with a focus on the recovery for residents.
Rework the Bay
COVID-19 brought out the growing inequities in this community, especially for disadvantaged populations. Rework the Bay, a project of the San Francisco Foundation, is committed to an equitable Bay Area through expanded access to quality jobs and shared prosperity in the region. The organization partnered with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development who released the report, "Re-imagining a Bay Area Workforce System Grounded in Racial and Gender Equity". In addition, Rework the Bay released the report, 'Power is at the Root: How Funders and Workforce Leaders Can Center Workers in the "Future of Work"' , in partnership with Working Partnerships USA and Jobs with Justice San Francisco. NOVAworks Director Kris Stadelman is a member of the Equity at Work Council (EWC) of Rework the Bay.
Santa Clara County Homelessness Prevention System
Homelessness took on even greater significance during the pandemic, where underpaid workers, laid off from their jobs, faced housing instability and evictions. Since COVID-19 began, Destination Home, in partnership with Sacred Heart Community Service galvanized the countywide Homelessness Prevention System to provide emergency housing relief to the community’s lowest-income residents. This is a joint effort of the County of Santa Clara and City of San Jose, in partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and leading corporations in Silicon Valley. Through private and public funding, $38 million in rental and financial assistance was distributed to 15,000 low-income households through a network of more than 70 community-based organizations.
All Home Regional Impact Council
All Home Regional Impact Council (RIC) is tackling the issue of affordable housing for the extremely low-income (ELI) households in the Bay Area, a concern that grew exponentially during COVID-19. RIC convened for a time-limited period to create a regional action plan to address the unsheltered homelessness crisis and develop a platform for change. The report, "Regional Action Plan to Reduce Homelessness by 75% in Three Years" was released in April. RIC’s work has continued and includes the exploration of a Universal Basic Income strategy. NOVAworks Director Kris Stadelman is serving on the Technical Committee of the Regional Impact Council.