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Rivals Bid to Replace America’s Job Bank

April 9, 2007
Related Topics: Future Workplace, Latest News
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Competition is heating up to replace the soon-to-be-extinguished America’s Job Bank.

NaviSite, a for-profit company that has operated the public job Web site for years as a contractor, recently announced a service designed to be a successor to America’s Job Bank after it shuts down June 30. The move makes NaviSite a rival to the DirectEmployers Association, a nonprofit consortium of companies that is offering its own version of a replacement for America’s Job Bank.

Despite NaviSite’s for-profit status, executive vice president Denis Martin says his firm will preserve the spirit of America’s Job Bank, which is free and tends to have many jobs for lower-skilled workers.

“We’re going to put our hearts and souls into it and see what we can do,” he says.

America’s Job Bank dates to 1995, and the free site currently lists more than 2.2 million jobs and nearly 650,000 résumés. Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor said it planned to phase out America’s Job Bank, arguing that maintaining and improving the site no longer makes sense “given that AJB duplicates what is already available in the private sector.”

But the decision to shutter the site has raised a number of questions, including how companies will meet compliance needs. There’s also concern about possible harm to smaller employers and lower-skilled job seekers.

Earlier this year, a group of state administrators appealed to congressional leaders to keep America’s Job Bank from shutting down in June. The National Association of State Workforce Agencies sent letters to Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, arguing for Congress to provide $6 million to continue the job site for another year starting July 1. But Rich Hobbie, NASWA’s executive director, says it appears unlikely that Congress will heed the call.

For more than a decade, NaviSite has developed and maintained America’s Job Bank under a contract with the state of New York, which in turn oversees the site for the U.S. Department of Labor. The Andover, Massachusetts-based company, which provides a variety of information technology services, says its AmericasJobExchange.com site will provide all of the services currently available on America’s Job Bank.

Martin says posting jobs to America’s Job Bank traditionally has fulfilled various requirements of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which makes sure employers doing business with the federal government comply with rules requiring nondiscrimination and affirmative action in employment. He says it’s unclear how OFCCP will treat the emerging alternatives to America’s Job Bank, but NaviSite will take pains to make its site helpful in meeting OFCCP guidelines.

NaviSite plans to make money on the new exchange through a combination of advertising revenue and fees charged to employers for job postings. In its first year, though, NaviSite will offer services to all employers for free with the goal of building an ad-based revenue stream, Martin says. The site will always be free to states, job seekers
and small employers, he says.

In addition, employers who post listings with state job banks that join forces with NaviSite’s new site will be able to broadcast those jobs on AmericasJobExchange.com for free.

The DirectEmployers Association makes a similar pitch regarding jobs posted through state workforce agencies that link up with its JobCentral National Labor Exchange—employers using those state job banks will get their job listings included in the exchange for free.

Bill Warren, executive director of the association, says employers also can post jobs to the JobCentral site at no charge and have them distributed to veterans job sites for purposes of abiding by OFCCP requirements.

For a fee, employers can use the JobCentral site for broader distribution. Organizations that aren’t members of the association pay $25 per month to have a job opening published to Internet search engines such as Google and Indeed.com and to more than 1,000 other Internet sites, including diversity sites.

That service is free for association members, who also benefit from having all the job listings on their career site automatically culled into the JobCentral system, Warren says. Membership in the DirectEmployers Association costs $12,500 per year.

At this point, both the association and NaviSite are hoping to get state governments to work with their nascent labor exchange sites.

The association’s site has earned some votes of confidence. In late March, Warren and crew won an endorsement from NASWA. Hobbie’s group was approached by both the DirectEmployers Association and NaviSite, and decided to back DirectEmployers. Some of the important factors in the decision were a shared mission of improving labor market efficiency and the common nonprofit status, Hobbie says. The association’s technology capabilities also played a role, he says.

Recruiting consultant and author Peter Weddle says Warren, who is the former president of job site Monster.com, provides a solid foundation.

“If you’re going to build a national labor exchange, there’s nobody better to support that than Bill Warren,” he says.

—Ed Frauenheim

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