After identifying gaps in job seekers' skillsets that might prevent them from achieving their career goals, the Maricopa County Human Services Department, through the Workforce Development Division, developed a unique solution - the Virtual Employment Academy (VEA). The Academy consists of four modules that are delivered in an online workshop. The goal of the program is to sharpen the employability skills of job seekers and better prepare them for an effective job search. Participants learn the essential elements needed to gain meaningful employment in these areas:
- Conducting an effective job search
- How to write a resume
- Steps to obtain a job interview
- Methods to have a successful job interview
- Professional skills that are in demand from employers
- How to choose a career pathway
- Understanding labor market information
- How to create an elevator speech
Seven trainers and a supervisor wrote the curriculum, created activities, exercises, and visual components over four months, all while continuing to facilitate the existing training calendar. The entire 4-module employment academy became available in September 2021, with 3 of the modules available in July 2021. The results of the program are that more than 645 people have successfully participated in the first three modules and 445 people in the fourth.
Problem or Need for the Program
With feedback provided by the Maricopa County Workforce Development teams assisting Adults, Dislocated Workers, Youth, and Businesses, Maricopa County identified gaps in participants’ job-seeking skillsets. To address these gaps and better position job seekers, the Workforce Development Training Team developed an ‘Employment Academy’ in collaboration with Workforce Development staff. The content of the Academy was developed to specifically cater to the needs of local employers. This collaboration between teams assisting job seekers and businesses provided the ability to better inform job seekers on the needs of employers so they could emphasize the skills from their career experience that aligned with the employer's needs. This also helped employers in that job seekers gain the skills and knowledge to articulate the skills they have that are a match to available opportunities.
Description of the Program
After identifying gaps in job seekers' skillsets that might prevent them from achieving their career goals, the Maricopa County Human Services Department, through the Workforce Development Division, developed a unique solution - the Virtual Employment Academy (VEA). The Academy consists of four modules that are delivered in an online workshop. The goal of the program is to sharpen the employability skills of job seekers and better prepare them for an effective job search.
To better meet the schedules of participants, each module is held two times per week at different times of day and on different days of the week. Participants can attend the modules in any order.
Topics covered in the Academy include these essential employability topics:
- Important websites to review and apply for jobs
- The importance of the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and how to successfully pass it
- Tips to help with applying for jobs online
- Learn how to locate keywords in job descriptions to help build into a resume and assist during the interview process
- How to target a resume to the certain position
- Resume basics such as formatting and content
- Review resume and cover letter templates
- Provide opportunities for additional resume one-on-one services
- The importance of a first strong impression and introducing yourself
- Marketing yourself by highlighting your success
- Self-Packaging: attire, grooming, hygiene, appropriate digital profiles
- Responsiveness during an interview
- What to expect during various types of interviews: telephone, panel, group, virtual, etc.
- Behavioral interview questions
- Discuss and practice S.T.A.R. Method
- Interview Practice
Some participants may attend Module D if they have been approved for an Occupational Skills Training grant. In Module D, participants learn how to complete research and the required WIOA training packet.
Use of Technology
- The Academy is offered in a virtual setting using Microsoft Teams. This software allows the trainers to facilitate the training in a virtual classroom environment where they can see, hear, and interact with participants.
- Microsoft Bookings is used to allow customers that are interested to sign up for the best date and time that works with their schedule.
- Slido.com is used to offer an interactive way for participants to respond to questions and exercises.
- Optional, in-person labs are offered at two alternating facilities every Friday so trainers can assist participants with accurately filling out the Training Packet. Trainers interact with participants, live, providing them assistance to complete the Training Packet, once they have completed the fourth module.
The Cost of the Program
There was no additional cost to Maricopa County to deliver this training program. The curriculum was delivered with software the County already owned (Microsoft Teams) on existing hardware with existing staff.
Results/Success of the Program
Since the four-part online training program was started to sharpen job seekers’ employability skills and prepare them for an effective job search, 645 people have completed Modules A-C.
|Virtual Employment Academy Participants Who Completed Modules A-C||645|
|Module A||645 since 7/1/21|
|Module B||646 since 7/1/21|
|Module C||646 since 7/1/21|
|Module D||445 since 9/1/21|