Alameda County Workforce Development Board - Year in Review: 2020-2021

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Resiliency through the COVID-19 pandemic July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021

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Introduction Overview - The Alameda County Workforce Development Board (ACWDB) is

an employer-led administrative and fiscal oversight body of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I program. Through competitive contracting, ACWDB establishes WIOA-aligned community-based workforce development programs and services for local area job seekers and businesses. Job seekers are equipped with tools and training opportunities that facilitate labor market success and employment in Alameda County’s high-growth sectors. Job seekers are also connected to supportive services that bolster work readiness, training and employment retention. Through various WIOA funding streams, job seeker services are targeted toward adults, dislocated workers (laid-off workers), in-school youth, and out-of-school youth. ACWDB’s internal Business Service Unit works rapidly to connect employers to relevant resources, while assisting with talent recruitment efforts and facilitating employer interest in WIOA training subsidy programs. WIOA training subsidy programs offset business expenses associated with on-the-job training and incumbent/ customized training, while advancing skill development of job seekers and employees. This Year in Review publication highlights COVID-19-induced challenges that the ACWDB and WIOA service providers encountered in the last program year (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, or PY 20/21), as well as our collective adaptations to those challenges. It was a busy year, but we continue to strive and look forward to continuous improvement, sustaining meaningful community partnerships, and ensuring services bolster job seeker and employer success.


Alameda County Workforce Development Board

COVID-19 Challenges and Resilience

Throughout PY 20/21, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges while ushering in new ways of operating. Shifting from in-person meetings to virtual meetings expanded community participation and encouraged greater stakeholder attendance at ACWDB meetings, local planning sessions, and Request for Proposal (RFP) planning sessions. ACWDB staff’s virtual engagement of stakeholders in local planning and RFP convenings received wide support from workforce development partners and sparked new interest in collaborative efforts. This overall digital shift heightened ACWDB’s profile and created additional community connection points and partnership opportunities. While new community initiatives were brewing, WIOA formula funding for dislocated worker services decreased by 29.5 percent and 25 percent respectively, leaving a funding gap for a largely vulnerable population segment in light of the pandemic. Rapid response and layoff aversion activities are critical services executed by ACWDB’s Rapid Response Coordinator (RRC) to address the needs of newly laid-off workers. In partnership with companies undergoing downsizing activities, ACWDB’s RRC swiftly connects laid-off workers to WIOA programs and services and additional state and local resources.


Working expeditiously to offset critical funding cuts, ACWDB staff worked creatively to secure the following competitive discretionary grants: • COVID-19 Emergency Response Supportive Services (CERRS) grant Provided $153,000 to support individuals impacted by COVID--19 with rental and mortgage assistance, utilities, transportation, laptops, work tools, and work clothing. • Tech-4-Good - ACWDB joined forces with Goodwill of the Greater East Bay and Corporate E-Waste Solutions to address digital divide issues, by providing 200 laptops and accessories to low-to-moderate income families and individualsin Alameda County. • HERO Grant – Taking signals from the community about food insecurity during the pandemic and recognizing employment needs of dislocated workers, ACWDB secured $400,000 through the COVID-19 Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker grant and partnered with the Alameda County Community Food Bank to employ COVID-19 impacted individuals as Food Security Workers. • COVID-19 In This Together (ITT) grant – Taking stock of the pandemic’s impact on hard-hit industries, including small to mid-sized companies in Alameda County, ACWDB secured $300,000 to initiate an Employer Human Resources Hotline and Human Resource webinar series in partnership with the California Employers Association. ITT funding was also used to bolster support of existing rapid response and layoff aversion activities.


On the Horizon - The workforce development system’s ability to leverage its

creativity and collaborative abilities to create new approaches became apparently obvious. As a testament to those abilities, the Earn-and-Learn Fremont (ELF) project was initiated by a member of ACWDB, Ms. Tina Kapoor (representing the City of Fremont), which led to a robust earn-and-learn partnership between the City of Fremont, ACWDB, Ohlone College, Evolve Manufacturing, and Work2Future. Through the ELF project, participants were placed on the job with Evolve Manufacturing as Production Associates to assemble and quality control COVID-19 testing kits. Project participants also enrolled with Ohlone College and earned a Smart Manufacturing certification of completion – validating their newly acquired industry competencies. At the sunset of the project, some participants were offered employment with Evolve Manufacturing and others found employment with other manufacturing companies. ACWDB is interested in expanding similar work-based learning projects in the future, by continuing to examine and seize partnership opportunities and proactively securing federal, state, and local grants. The ELF project reinforced the importance of industry-led collaborative efforts that garner the support of local workforce development boards, economic development agencies, and educational partners. This synergy broadened new opportunities for workers and residents in Alameda County, putting them on a promising career path within a prominent local area industry.


ACWDB is preparing to prioritize opportunities that will align with the forthcoming federal and state investments: Bi-partisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act Bill, the Build Back Better Agenda, and California aligned workforce development priorities that are associated with the High Road Training Partnership initiative, the Community Economic Resilience Fund, the Employment Training Panel, and the Division of Apprenticeship Standards. Other areas of interest are as follow: 1. Creating a strategy for preparing local area workers most vulnerable for automation and artificial intelligence (AI) displacement, through up-skilling efforts that align with automation/AIresilient careers; 2. Preparing WIOA-enrolled participants for quality jobs with high road employers that pay a family thriving wage, promote workplace safety, and support fair treatment of workers; 3. Enabling equitable and inclusive access to WIOA services to ensure that programs reflect the rich diversity of Alameda County’s residents, while engaging in efforts to course-correct program disparities, when possible, in alignment with ACWDB’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Framework; 4. Sourcing and supplying marketing tools to ACWDB’s BSU to facilitate higher utilization rate of business services; 5. Adapting WIOA Adult/Dislocated Worker and In-School Youth and Out-ofSchool Youth programs, by advancing collaborative approaches, enabling stronger ties to industry partners, and equipping job seekers for the future of work; and, 6. Continuing to develop and acquire COVID-19 grant funding to address the needs of diverse job seekers and employers in Alameda County. 5

COVID-19 Challenges and Program Resilience Adults and Dislocated Workers

Overview - WIOA basic career services (resume writing, job searching,

mock interview workshops, etc.) are universally available to prepare job seekers for employment. When a job seeker is enrolled into WIOA, participants unlock additional intensive services, such as: assessment, case management, the development of an Individual Employment Plan, supportive services, and access to occupational training investments that lead to employment within high demand industries.

COVID-19 Challenges - During PY 20/21 the COVID-19 pandemic altered

the landscape for job seekers, service providers, and businesses. Many job seekers were surviving employment lost, family sicknesses, family care needs, and navigating housing issues. Others were laid off and challenged in securing Unemployment Insurance benefits, while others felt at-risk on the front lines of the pandemic and sought to enter different occupations. The digital divide grew exponentially and affected low wage earners, including job seekers of color and women. This digital divide functioned as a temporary impasse for job seekers who sought online training to enter new fields and establish new careers. As the recovery slowly paced into effect, the bulk share of new or recovered jobs in the leisure and hospitality/food sectors were left unfilled due to job seeker reluctance to enter or re-enter public-facing jobs, among other dynamics. Finally, as we inched closer to the end of the program year in the fourth quarter (April 2020 – June 30, 2021), many sought greener pastures to strike work-life balance, in what economists have termed “the Great Resignation.” Not only did some people leave jobs due to dissatisfaction, some of the region’s workforce seized the opportunity to relocate and execute work responsibilities in more affordable regions.


WIOA Service Providers - ACWDB’s network of WIOA service providers, already committed to adapting services to align with the reality of the pandemic, strengthened their virtual and online presence to continue service delivery. WIOA service providers held virtual job seeker workshops, virtual or contactless job fairs (including drive-through job fairs), virtual case management, and adopted new employer engagement strategies. WIOA service providers worked earnestly to encourage job seekers to take advantage of the pandemic by engaging in up-skilling and training efforts to enhance their career prospects and assisted in supplying lowto-moderate wage earners with laptops and Chromebooks.

On the Horizon - Starting in July 2021, ACWDB pivoted to a Career Services

Collaborative (CSC) model to better synchronize job seeker services and disperse investments further into marginalized communities. The CSC places a coordinating entity at the helm of a dynamic collaboration to manage interactions, strategies, and communication that facilitate streamlined and responsive job seeker services. The shift to the CSC model will also create more partnership opportunities that bridge and wrap around services for targeted job seekers. While virtual services are still established and utilized, ACWDB’s service providers are turning the corner on establishing a sense of normalcy in client services by steadily returning to in-person meetings, workshops, and case management.


Client Success Stories and By the Numbers


Still Resilient Phuong was in search of entering the medical field after leaving a toxic work place, but she was unsure about where to begin. Phuong believed that becoming recently homeless and having a perceived English language barrier as an immigrant, would hinder her progress.

WIOA Adult enrollees

319 WIOA Dislocated Worker enrollees

However, Phuong began working with our WIOA service provider at the College of Alameda Career Center, who supported her enrollment in the Pharmacy Technician program at Mission Valley Regional Occupational Program.

73% Average percentage of WIOA enrollees who attained an industry credential

Phuong’s WIOA Case Manager also connected her to food and housing resources, transitional job opportunities while in training, special COVID-19 grants, and provided ongoing encouragement during the process with frequent checkins and support. Phuong prevailed through it all, earned a Pharmacy Technician certificate, and began employment at the CVS pharmacy.

40% Average percentage of WIOA enrollees who entered employment

*The participant’s name has been changed to ensure client anonymity.


Back on Track Nadia was laid off due to COVID-19, receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits, and worried about how to make ends meet for her family as a single mother. Through one of our service providers, the Tri-Cities Career Center in Newark, Nadia was connected to WIOA services, which unlocked access to a free laptop (through our partnership with Goodwill and Corporate E-Waste Solutions), rental payment assistance provided through the City of Newark, occupational training in Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification to learn project management skills, and received job preparation support.


COVID-19 Challenges and Program Resilience Youth and Young Adults

Overview - Services delivered through ACWDB’s WIOA youth and young adult

programs are provided to in-school participants and out-of-school participants. In-school youth (ISY) services, under the banner of ACWDB’s Youth Innovation Program, are targeted toward academically connected youth and young adults between 16-21 years old. The Youth Innovation Program complements services that are provided within the high school or college setting and subsequently reinforces existing resources to help youth and young adults reach their education and career goals. Out-of-school youth (OSY) services, under the banner of the Future Force Career Program, are targeted toward out-of-school or disconnected youth/ young adults between 16-24 years of age. WIOA OSY services aim to reconnect youth and young adults to educational/ vocational pursuits, employment, and/or work-based learning opportunities. Much like WIOA Adult and Dislocated Worker programs, ISY and OSY contracts are established with locally based providers with strong track records of serving diverse youth and young adults. These service providers are also networked throughout Alameda County to ensure geographic equity. ISY and OSY service providers work diligently to connect youth and young adults to mentorship opportunities, expose participants to careers, equip participants with occupational and 21st century skills development, and facilitate career pathway connections.


COVID-19 Challenges - In PY 20/21 youth and young adult participants

struggled to find quiet workspaces within their home environments to take advantage of online courses or participate in virtual case management. And while the digital divide issue was resolved for some youth and young adults, it remained a prevalent issue for several participants overall. To better reach and engage participants, WIOA ISY and OSY service providers collectively increased social media presence and interactions and encouraged texting and video chat on mobile phones. These efforts enhanced services and led to better connections with WIOA ISY/OSY participants.

On the Horizon - Moving forward, credential attainment rate improvement

(diploma achievement, industry certificates, GED, etc.) will be key. By establishing service contracts with two Regional Occupational Programs (Eden Area and Tri Valley), youth credential attainment rates are bound to increase as both entities have strong track records in producing this outcome. In addition to improving credential attainments, the following components will be emphasized in upcoming years: • Work-based learning opportunities • Intentional connections with employers and businesses • 21st century skill development (digital literacy, collaboration, emotional intelligence, etc.)


Client Success Story and By the Numbers


Stay the Course Dianna was struggling to complete her senior year in school, especially given some emotional challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Connecting with our WIOA In-School Youth service provider, the Eden Area Regional Occupational Program (ROP), Dianna was surrounded by a network of caring adult professionals.

WIOA ISY Enrollees

153 WIOA OSY Enrollees


The Eden Area ROP met with Dianna regularly, encouraged her to complete high school, assisted with her college application, and provided her with an internship stipend.

ISY engaged in work-based learning


With this outpouring of support, Dianna fulfilled her dream of attending school in New York city. She is a nursing student and supports herself financially as a Medical Assistant at a pediatric clinic.

OSY exposed to work-based learning

*The participant’s name has been changed to ensure client anonymity.


COVID-19 Challenges and Program Resilience Re-entry Job Seeker Services

Overview - The ACWDB has established a wide variety of re-entry programs

in Alameda County to facilitate second chance employment. ACWDB’s re-entry efforts have been intentionally formed and sustained with high impact workforce development partners. During the program year in reference, the following partners have collaborated in Alameda County to sustain their commitments to re-entry job seekers: Alameda County Sheriff’s department, Alameda County Probation department, Rubicon Programs, and the other workforce development boards in the East Bay (Oakland, Contra Costa County and Richmond). Along those lines, three reentry programs were in operation, along with one special initiative in PY 20/21: • Operation My Home-Town program - provides post-release support to justiceinvolved individuals following incarceration by connecting participants to critically important services that facilitate successful community re-integration. Re-entry participants receive counseling, substance abuse referrals, job coaching, and rapid connection to other supportive services. • Smart Re-Entry program – provides evidence-based clinical case management services to address the behavioral and social-emotional needs of formerly justiceinvolved participants to ensure successful career obtainment and employment retention goals. • Prison to Employment (P2E) program – is a collaborative effort among the four workforce development boards (WDBs) in the East Bay region (Alameda County WDB, Oakland WDB, Contra Costa County WDB and Richmond WDB) to address the training and employment needs formerly incarcerated job seekers. • The Better Careers Design Group (BCDG) – is a James Irvine Foundation funded initiative designed to facilitate quality jobs for marginalized job seekers. The BCDG is a partnership between ACWDB, Alameda County Probation department, Rubicon Programs, and Growth Sector (also known as Team Alameda). Working closely with Third Sector to learn new design thinking approaches, Team Alameda is striving toward designing and re-imagining re-entry service delivery and employer engagement strategies that enable family-sustaining second chance employment for justice-involved job seekers.


COVID-19 Challenges - As result of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to

the county jail system was restricted, which slowed large-scale pre-release service delivery and outreach to prospective clients. The delivery of post-release services was also a challenge, as many prospective re-entry clients did not have established residencies or reliable contact information. While the pandemic presented challenges in outreach to justice-involved individuals, virtual meetings created a connection point for making referrals, collecting pertinent participant information to ensure future connections, and led some participants to secure employment. Other participants were warmly connected to housing programs and/or substance abuse programs through phone calls and conferences, which created another nexus for gathering critical contact information and initial assessments about basic career interests and abilities.

On the Horizon - As employers grapple to identify talent for hard-to-fill

openings, there is an interest among businesses to explore previously overlooked talent. Correction facilities are also more receptive to providing employment services, which will provide an on-ramp for establishing workforce development services and programs. And through the Prison-to-Employment Initiative, the East Bay Regional Planning Unit (four workforce development boards in the East Bay) are applying lessons learned from reducing program duplications and pivoting toward innovative programming.


Client Success Story and By the Numbers


Collective Impact for Client Success

Individuals enrolled in P2E Supportive Services Earn and Learn Strategy

Kalyssa was on supervised probation after completing a 20-day stint in custody. As a single mother of an infant child, Kalyssa was driven by her faith to persist past her mistakes. Initially connected to workforce services through the Sheppard’s Gate program, Kalyssa learned about the Waste-Water Treatment program at Castro Valley Adult School and learned about workforce development services offered at the TriValley Career Center.

73% Non-recidivation rate


With encouragement and support, Kalyssa enrolled into the Waste-Water Treatment program at Castro Valley Adult School and completed the program through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kalyssa is now off probation, awaiting to pass the state exam to put her certificate into practice, taking care of her child, and working part time at the East Bay Regional Park District. Kalyssa continues to strive forward and has been connected to La Familia services to help her sustain her progress.

Individuals enrolled in the P2E Direct Services Grant


COVID-19 Challenges and Program Resilience Business Services

Overview - ACWDB’s Business Services Unit (BSU) operates within a business

engagement model, enabling BSU staff to interact directly and indirectly with employers. BSU directly assists with hiring/recruiting efforts and in curating business interest in ACWDB’s Customized/Incumbent Worker Training program and rapid response activities. Indirectly, BSU serves as an intermediary to a steering committee of internal and external business-facing partners to stay apprised of collaboration opportunities that enhance employer programs and make connections that benefit businesses throughout Alameda County. As much as possible, BSU builds traction between businesses and job seeker services (through local area WIOA Adult, Dislocated, ISY, and OSY programs) to facilitate employment placement opportunities.


COVID-19 Challenges - Prior to the pandemic, BSU staff members engaged

businesses through onsite visits and participated in networking events to build and expand employer networks. Due to the pandemic, several large employer or industry association networking events were canceled or held virtually, which temporarily limited BSU’s potential reach. However, the COVID-19 pandemic afforded BSU staff new opportunities to engage with employers through Rapid Response services, activated by Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notices (WARNs). Businesses are required to submit WARNs when company layoffs are bound to affect seventy-five (75) employees or more. WARNs enable Rapid Response activities to shift into gear to swiftly assist affected laid-off workers. BSU also remained well-connected to industry partners and actively engaged with economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, industry association groups, and employers to examine partnership opportunities. Early in the pandemic, BSU reignited a partnership with the Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence (MANEX) to equip ten small-to-mid sized manufacturing companies with assessments geared toward increasing revenue and growth to foster business retention in Alameda County. While coping with the ups and downs of state health re-opening protocols, as well as increased workforce challenges, more employers sought business services and found the BSU through web searches. And as previously referenced, funding awarded through the ITT grant created avenues to enhance BSU’s rapid response/layoff aversion activities and initiate a contractual relationship with the California Employers Association (CEA). In partnership with the CEA, a free business hotline and a series of free and relevant COVID-19-aligned webinars have been delivered to businesses and Human Resource professionals.


On the Horizon - BSU will continue its partnership with the CEA to provide

a free HR Hotline service for businesses to keep employers and HR professionals informed about labor law revisions, hiring strategies, and other relevant topics. BSU will continue the following community partnerships: • Alameda County Public Health to ensure that local businesses and incumbent workers have access to COVID-19 vaccination resources and mobile services; • High-Road Training Partnerships to create ongoing opportunities for growing and supporting decarbonization efforts in the construction industry; • The Alameda County Social Services’ Workforce and Benefits Administration department to support the Alameda County Community Wealth Building Initiative with a focus on engaging locally based anchor institutions; and, • Economic development agencies and offices, chambers of commerce, and industry association groups. The BSU will also strive toward building talent pipeline initiatives that are sectorbased and plan on increasing marketing, branding, communication capabilities and seizing business-specific grant opportunities.


Employer Client Success Story and By the Numbers

245 Businesses served by the BSU

24 Small businesses connected to critical resources


Connected During the Pandemic “My hiring team has been very fortunate to work closely with the Alameda County Workforce [Development] Board over the past year. They have connected us with other employment partners, like Rubicon, to help spread the word on job opportunities at my bakery. We are so grateful for their relentless effort to connect ‘candidates with companies’ and to also provide useful webinars and other tools to better equip our hiring efforts during these challenging times.”

Businesses have attended webinars provided by the California Employers Association

35 Employer referrals issued by the BSU

Atsushi Maekawa, Food Safety Manager at Semifreddi’s (Alameda, CA)



Written by Latoya Reed, Management Analyst at the ACWDB, with contributions from ACWDB colleagues Designed by Andrea Wong, Program Specialist, Alameda County Social Services Agency

ALAMEDA COUNTY WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT BOARD 24100 Amador Street, Hayward, CA 94544-1203 6th Floor | Suite 610 C (510) 259-3842