Congratulations to Chris Wingert, Deputy Director of the Grant-operated Workforce1 Industrial and Transportation Career Center, who participated in a three-month Policy and Advocacy Academy hosted by the Albany-based New York Association of Training and Education Professionals (NYATEP).
The annual Academy brings together workforce professionals from New York City and Upstate New York to engage in advocacy-focused seminars, activities and legislative visits at the state and local level.
Each cohort from the city and Upstate region was divided into smaller teams to develop a group position paper and advocacy strategy on a topic they felt passionate about. Once a topic was finalized, the teams identified the problem, determined why it mattered, developed the “ask,” and created a final policy statement and dissemination strategy.
Chris’s team, which included three other participants from nonprofit organizations in the city, determined that many companies wishing to use the wealth of data collected by the government and other private organizations have trouble doing so effectively.
The team concluded that two of the challenges companies generally have when sifting through data include:
- Capacity: staff with limited knowledge and the skills to find, analyze and report on data.
- Time: the need to know where to get specific labor market data at a moment’s notice.
Organizations typically need labor market data that is relevant to their mission or to a particular project. The data may at times need to be granular, for example: employment rates specifically for those within a certain zip code and who have only a high school diploma.
“There is a lot of labor market data available and it’s overwhelming,” Chris said. “It’s difficult for organizations to know exactly which tools to use to find out specific information when there is so much available.”
The team developed an advocacy strategy aimed at simplifying the process for accessing the abundance of labor market data through a proposed new web-based system that would provide organizations with guidance about tools to use based on the organization’s service specifications and reporting needs.
An organization would go into the system and create an account profile, providing details about the organization and the type of data required. The system would take this information and generate a list of data source suggestions that the organization would be able to use and store for future use. The system would use all of the collected information to adjust its recommendations for tools based on new data requirements.
The team’s advocacy method included:
- Establishing a Statewide Coalition to convene organizations from across the state, especially larger urban areas such as Albany, Rochester and Buffalo.
- Advocating by educating legislators from those areas
- Pitching the proposed system to private philanthropic foundations that highly value data capture and reporting, such as the Robin Hood Foundation
- Pitching to Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs)
The culmination of the group work was a formal presentation of the concept, using a PowerPoint titled “Demystifying Data – A Tool to Empower Workforce Development Organizations,” to the class, alumni and colleagues during the graduation ceremony, held on April 14.
“This project gave me ideas for what we can do to execute this concept internally as an organization.” Chris said. “Once we have proo