The 5 Biggest Hurdles Affecting Workforce Development, and How to Overcome Them

Workforce development is one of the most important objectives for any government. Both the strength of the overall economy and the welfare of individual citizens are dependent on high rates of employment. However, effective workforce development presents many challenges for government agencies looking to craft a work environment that is both effective and favorable for employees.

Of course, specific hurdles change from organization to organization, but when it comes to big issues, many of the same challenges arise across agencies. For example, finding and retaining the best employees, using them to the best of their capabilities, keeping high levels of engagement, and facilitating communication between departments are all common issues agencies face. Many of these challenges can be traced back to a lack of up-to-date technology.

Let’s take a deeper look into the five main hurdles that government agencies face when it comes to workforce development, and then go over some of the ways in which technology can help overcome them.

1. The Hiring Net Is Not as Wide as It Should Be.

In a recent survey, 91% of state and local government employees placed recruitment and retention as the number-one priority for workforce development in 2017. However, 48% of employers find themselves unable to fill their job vacancies, because of the “skills gap” and high attrition rates.

The right candidates are out there, they just aren’t always easy to find. To rectify this and find the best candidates for open positions, it is becoming increasingly essential to cast as wide of a net as possible. Where hiring was once a laborious process, limited to those who were within the reach of whatever newspaper the posting was listed in, now, with digital tools available through the internet, expanding the pool has become simultaneously easier and more difficult: easier because of the reach of social media, but more difficult to narrow the focus to the very best candidates.

The right tools are needed to achieve both of these things, without adding a mountain of extra work to those responsible for conducting the hiring process.

2. The Skills Gap Makes Finding the Best Candidates Even Harder.

Additionally, another survey of government employees cited the skills gap as a problem in modern hiring. In this survey, 84% of respondents indicated that there was a skills gap in their government agency, with 65% ranking “too few qualified candidates [when hiring]” as the cause. This gap between the skills required for the job and the candidates who are applying is a problem that crops up again and again in workforce development, both inside and outside of government agencies.
This again highlights the need to increase the pool of potential candidates through casting a wider hiring net, but also the importance of looking in the right places for the right kinds of candidates. Tools that automatically eliminate unqualified candidates can help, but often a more nuanced solution is required.

3. Communication Problems Between Departments Can Decrease Efficiency.

Collaboration is a vital, but may be a difficult challenge for many local regions. Workforce development is often driven by collective goals, yet various departments have differing strategies and metrics for reaching those goals. As a result, poor communication and a lack of collaboration can significantly hinder workforce development efforts.

Collective impact is the solution, but it requires the use of unifying technology in order to be effective. Collaboration between departments and agencies can also benefit the hiring process, as it helps to increase the pool of qualified applicants and opens up more opportunities for transfers between departments of top-quality employees.

4. Problems With Engagement Cost Government Agencies Money.

The challenges with workforce development do not begin and end with hiring practices. Any business manager knows the importance of employee engagement in affecting retention rates, but also overall productivity. In fact, disengaged employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year due to lost productivity.

And yet, engagement is a problem that many managers have yet to figure out how to address. Over the first two quarters of 2015, 10% of job seekers moved for new employment, the highest rate since 2009. Engagement is impacted by the tools that employees are using, the way in which they are trained, whether they feel listened to, and most importantly, whether they feel valued in their current position.

5. Old Technology Can Be a Roadblock to Workforce Development, but New Technology Offers a Solution.

Many government agencies are running on old and outdated technology. This greatly hinders an agency’s ability to overcome each of these hurdles, and presents a problem in itself. Many workforce development agencies have been forced to work with too few technology options, forced to choose between a rigid off-the-shelf, non-scalable and non-customizable solution, or the mammoth task of developing their own in-house solution which requires restrictive amounts of time and money in constant development and updates.

To tackle these workforce development hurdles there is a third, more effective option, the Salesforce Workforce Development solution. Hiring needs are addressed through the Launchpad Career Link, which provides a self service portal for both job seekers and employers to carry out tasks such as track applications and make hires.

The challenge of collaboration is addressed with online communities and connections between teams thanks to a shared platform with real-time updates through the cloud — something that also eliminates duplication.

Furthermore, the Salesforce Workforce Development solution serves up better employee engagement rates through the ability to build and customize applications, with an average 520% ROI and 80% more applications launched per year, as well as a 75–85% reduction in infrastructure costs.

Other tools provided by the Salesforce Workforce Development solution are case management tracking, reporting and analytics, integrations and data exchange with other applications and systems, and full mobile access from any device, anywhere.

There is a reason why workforce development is a priority for the government — it is essential to our society. Something so important should be tackled using only the best tools. Salesforce provides all of the necessary tools to help government agencies achieve their goals, and allows them to do so with ease.

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