Rapid Response - Solutions for Economic Transition



As a Rapid Response provider, you play a critical role in helping employers develop effective solutions to address their workforce and business challenges; helping workers maintain employment and advance in their careers; and building dynamic relationships across public and private stakeholder groups. Your role is not just to provide a set of services, but to develop comprehensive, long-term solutions that include building relationships, exchanging information, devising strategies, and facilitating connections. You serve as a broker of resources in addressing stakeholder needs. Your efforts have a direct impact on the success of regional economies.

This community of practice, the Rapid Response Innovation Network, will provide you with the basic information and resources you need for an effective Rapid Response system.

A Solutions-Based Approach to Managing Transition in an Evolving Economy

Rapid Response is not about simply reacting to an economic shock or the provision of services; it is an active, continuous effort of providing long-term solutions that lead to a thriving economy.

It involves:

  • Developing an awareness of the global, national, and regional economic trends;
  • Building relationships with employers, service providers, and other stakeholders;
  • Understanding the needs and challenges of the employers and workers; and
  • Developing a vision and strategies that address the challenges and ensure long-term economic stability and growth.


Rapid Response is a process, a continuum of services to businesses and the workforce. It depends on dynamic relationships with all regional stakeholders. It is an integrated approach to the economic well-being of a region.

Rapid Response is not event-driven; it is a pro-active approach to planning for and managing economic transition. The image of Rapid Response is changing from the old perception of responding to economic crises, such as plant closings and mass layoffs, to managing economic transitions through building relationships and sharing information among all stakeholder groups.


Serving Both Employers and Workers

Rapid Response serves employers and workers, providing effective strategies based on identified needs. Specifically, Rapid Response serves:

  • Employers, helping them access skilled job seekers or incumbent worker training programs, plan for and implement layoff aversion strategies, and ensure employment rights and regulations;
  • Workers and/or their representatives, providing a comprehensive range of direct services, benefits, training opportunities, and income support; and
  • Workforce development professionals, including Federal, state, and local workforce representatives, providing information and materials to assist them in working with employers and dislocated workers.

Rapid Response is a critical component in the commitment by the government to support workers in an evolving economy.

Acting as Facilitators or Information Brokers of Assets and Services to Address Employer and Worker Challenges

As solution providers, you need both content knowledge and soft skills including:

  • A comprehensive knowledge of Rapid Response and related service providers, the range of assistance offered, and strategies to address employer and worker needs;
  • An understanding of Rapid Response regulations and the wide range of allowable activities;
  • An understanding of Labor Market Information data and how to use it effectively;
  • Available Federal, state, and local resources, services and financial support;
  • Outreach strategies to employers, including the ability to identify employer needs;
  • An ability to effectively connect employers, workers, and service providers;
  • Presentation skills to employers and workforce professionals; and
  • Tenacity and flexibility.

Engaging in Early Intervention

Early intervention before or immediately after a layoff notice is critical to alleviating long-term unemployment, improving employee morale, maintaining productivity, and lowering business costs. Developing a capacity for economic and workforce intelligence – i.e., gathering advance information about potential layoffs - is a foundation for successfully managing transition through Rapid Response. This requires:

  • Maintaining current labor market information and economic data; and
  • Building relationships with employers, business associations, workforce, and economic development organizations.

Early intervention includes:

  • Reaching affected workers early, through formal and informal channels of communication, to improve their chances for quick reemployment. Examples include:

    • Pennsylvania (PA): Most of PA is covered by the private, non-profit Steel Valley Authority Strategic Early Warning Network, which is designed to increase the Rapid Response team’s awareness of information that can lead to early interventions.
    • Massachusetts (MA): Rapid Response is developing a forecasting system involving a collaboration of 30 state agencies, with subgroups devoted to labor market information, business visitation, and communications and marketing.
    • Texas (TX): TX has instituted a global mailbox called Layoff Notification Central that goes through the TX Workforce Commission, allowing Rapid Response to better identify trends.
    • New Hampshire (NH): Rapid Response in NH created a business visitation program involving visits to companies to find out what challenges they face, whether they are expanding or downsizing, and what kinds of services they need.
  • Educating employers about available state services and promoting Rapid Response services through marketing, trust building, and information dissemination strategies to the business community. Examples include:

  • Minnesota (MN): MN has produced a video describing Rapid Response to workers in three languages and a video for employers using employer customer satisfactions data gathered.
  • California (CA): CA developed and produced brochures that are distributed by the Alameda County WIB.
  • Massachusetts (MA): An outreach program in MA was designed to promote Rapid Response to business groups and associations.
  • Minnesota and Massachusetts includes Rapid Response staff.
  • Wisconsin includes local WIB officials and Rapid Response staff.
  • In California, only two Rapid Response officials are present at initial meeting so employers are more willing to share potentially confidential information since there is a smaller audience in the room.
  • Meeting with employers and employees, in separate meetings, early in the layoff process. Examples of whom to include in the initial meetings are: