Rapid Response - Solutions for Economic Transition
Oct 21

Essential Elements of Great Rapid Response

I’ve been thinking lately about some of the elements that are necessary when creating an innovative Rapid Response system in your state or local area.  Took a crack at jotting down a few ideas—please add to this list any thoughts, ideas, concepts, etc that you think are important to achieving a Rapid Response system that lives up to its potential.


Aug 26

Thanksgiving Dinner As Messaging

A quick scenario.  Thanksgiving dinner, around a big table with family.  A lot of cheerful chatter, clinking of silverware.  A distant cousin you don’t see often leans over to you and asks, “So, what exactly is it that you DO?”

How you answer this question is an important indicator of how well you’ve thought through your messaging and sales pitch.  Can you describe what you do as a Rapid Responder in ways that make sense to the questioner?  Is your answer clear enough to be understood?  Does it hit the right notes to demonstrate that Rapid Response is meaningful and important?  And perhaps most crucially, is it succinct enough to hold your cousin’s attention despite all the distraction?


Jul 26

A New Equation: Rapid Response Equals Jobs

Rapid Response has one overarching goal: “to…enable dislocated workers to transition to new employment as quickly as possible.”  This deceptively simple statement is the foundational principle of Rapid Response—it tells you what your outcome has to be, and it opens the door for all the flexibility that you will need to achieve that goal.  (Here’s a link to the full text of the regulations, in case you are interested—click on Sections 665.300 through 665.340 for specifics.)

The primary purpose of Rapid Response is a new job—the purpose is NOT simply to sign workers up for UI and enroll workers in One-Stop programs.  The core of Rapid Response is to complete essentially a transaction—to move a worker from a job that is going away to a new job.  While certainly there are many services, activities, benefits, etc. that can facilitate the outcome, it is important to remember that the ultimate result is a job.  The outcome is more important than the process.


Jun 06

Effective Outreach

Celina Shands Gradijan – President/CEO
Full Capacity Marketing, Inc.

Can you recommend cost-effective ways for employer outreach?  This was a question posed by the Rapid Response Workgroup in a recent online meeting.  The answer?  Your website is one of the most important storytelling and engagement tools in your outreach arsenal. Yet, many workforce organizations are falling short in terms of harnessing the power of the Web, especially utilizing social media that can enhance collaboration and outreach efforts.


May 31

Santa Cruz WIB beats the ROI Gold Standard

The gold standard for venture capitalist is a 10x return on investment. What this means is for every dollar invested you get $10 back.  The Santa Cruz California WIB beat that goal with a $50,000 investment in Layoff Aversion. 

Working together, David Lundberg and the staff at the Santa Cruz County WIB, and Teresa Thomae and her group at the Central Coast Small Business Development Center have shown how a small investment in layoff aversion can pay off in a big way.

What the WIB did was establish a working partnership with the SBDC. Through a $50,000 contract the WIB engaged the SBDC to help small businesses in their community weather the economic down turn and avoid the need for layoffs.  From the project inception in January 2010 to today it has preserved 87 jobs, preventing the need for an equal number of layoffs.  


May 20

May 2011: Rapid Response Infrastructure: The Foundation of High-Quality Solutions

As our regular participants will note, much of the great content that appears in this Rapid Response community focuses on innovative ideas, unique approaches, and strategic partnerships.  These are, of course, all things that make Rapid Response the incredibly valuable to workers, businesses, and communities across the country.  But I wanted to talk for a bit about something else that can make or break your Rapid Response system—it’s not as exciting, but it’s critical.  I’m talking about “infrastructure.”  Without an infrastructure that encourages innovation, that promotes consistency, that strives for aversion, that is based upon concrete principles, strategies, policies and procedures, a high-functioning Rapid Response mechanism is difficult to achieve.

Effective infrastructure can, of course, take a wide variety of forms, and I’m not promoting any particular method, structure, format, etc.  What I am suggesting, though, is that continuous review of infrastructure, and continuous improvement where necessary, ensures that your foundation for success is always strong.


Apr 28

Are You Ready?

By Rob Gamble and David Prickett


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“Don't go to the fishpond without a net.”
Japanese Proverb
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*This blog is being reposted in response to the ongoing violent storms across the United States.  The value of disaster prep and the role of Rapid Response remain of a highest priority.

As a concept, we all understand the value of being prepared. The recent earthquake in Japan and the subsequent and shocking impact of the tsunami that followed is just another reminder to all of us that preparedness is much more than a concept to admire. It is an absolute necessity in being able to provide an effective, efficient and comprehensive response to natural disasters.

Figuratively and quite literally, the affects of a disaster can be far reaching.  Beyond the devastating damage and loss of life that wrenches our collective hearts, businesses and jobs have quite literally been swept away, creating enormous economic challenges to come– in Japan and beyond. Even the United States did not escape unscathed. Nearly half a world away, the tsunami shot across the Pacific and pounded the shores of Northern California and wrecked havoc on the already struggling fishing industry in Crescent City. We can add this to the list of other recent challenges that test our preparedness, including the on-going massive flooding in many northeast and midwest communities.

References to Crescent City, CA:

  • Article: Tsunami surge deals blow to struggling Calif. Town
  • News Video: The Crescent City harbor is expected to be unusable for the foreseeable future, impacting jobs and business.

Without the foresight to prepare, we’d be lost. But we’re not lost; fortunately there are many tools and programs available to address natural disasters and their often harsh affects. Chief among them – at least from the perspective of the workforce system – are Rapid Response and Unemployment Insurance (UI). But having the tools and programs available is not enough, the practitioners of Rapid Response and UI, as well as their many partners and stakeholders must work together in an ongoing basis to develop plans and ensure an up-to-date state of preparedness. It is critical to dedicate staff time and resources in developing a disaster response plan. The time spent planning will pay enormous dividends should a disaster occur. This includes building a broad network of partnerships (see link to sample resource guide below) and gaining a sound understanding of how to coordinate your efforts when needed.


Apr 22

Imagine that, a program that pays for itself!

The ROI of Rapid Response and Layoff Aversion

By Rob Gamble


Most would agree that layoff aversion has not been the everyday option for Rapid Response. For many of us, even those whose careers date back to the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) days, layoff aversion has always been a complicated, rarely used aspect of the legislation populated with ESOPs and incumbent worker training programs.  But over the last couple of years Workforce Boards across the country have taken on the challenge and are making a positive impact, possibly even more than they realize (more on that later) but first a crash course in the “New Vision of Layoff Aversion.”


Apr 08

Making the Connections that Matter

There are national, state, local and even industry- or occupations-specific labor exchanges. In general, they are typically an association of some combination of human resources personnel, employers, workforce agencies, industry group and community organizations working together to improve labor market efficiency. This could include the sharing of best practices, research, technological solutions, labor market information, job each engines, and other things that help employers find the workers they need and for workers to connect with employer. Labor exchange also can identify the training and skill needed for various occupations.

Labor exchanges provide valuable resources for connecting workers and employers... the connections that matter  for preparing and building our nation's workforce.


Apr 01

Rapid Response Workgroup Discusses Effective Messaging and Outreach

Rapid Response Workgroup Discusses Effective
Messaging and Outreach – Top 3 Strategies

Celina Shands Gradijan – President/CEO
Full Capacity Marketing, Inc.


Last week,  I participated in a discussion around the best way to develop messages for Rapid Response, and the most cost-effective methods for outreach.  Strategic communications is all about getting the right message to the right person at the right time; it’s not about some magic brochure or marketing piece that has a nice look and feel.  In this day of instant and viral communication,  your best toolkit contains three strategies:

  1. The ability and right formula for developing good messages;
  2. A well designed website with social media integration that can be updated frequently; and
  3. A coordinated effort among outreach teams and subject matter experts to generate content and messages with the understanding of how to deliver them to target audiences (virtually, written format and one-to-one conversations).