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Turning a Deaf Ear

July 6, 2007
Related Topics: Candidate Sourcing, Ethics, Workforce Planning
In 2003, the U.S. Labor Department asked members of the business community and others with a stake in America’s Job Bank for their opinions about the free public job site.

    The department did not heed their advice. Thanks to a decision announced last year by the Labor Department, America's Job Bank closed at the beginning of this month.

    But participants at three feedback sessions sponsored by the Labor Department in 2003 gave America’s Job Bank a solid endorsement, according to a report summarizing the seminars. The four-hour forums focused on the set of government services known as the CareerOneStop E-Tools, which include America’s Job Bank and a career information resource called America’s Career InfoNet. America's Career InfoNet continues to operate.

    "Participants of all three forums said that the E-Tools are extremely comprehensive, reliable, and informative," the report said. The report, titled "Executive Summary: CareerOneStop Electronic Tools Mini-Forums July 2003," added: "Participants of all three forums said that while they appreciate the value of AJB, they would continue to use other job boards in addition to AJB because they like having choices. They noted that this does not detract from the value of AJB because the need for AJB is valid and it can enhance the workforce system by contributing more resources and information."

    Workforce Management received the document from David Morman, a former Labor Department official who managed America’s Job Bank. A Department of Labor spokeswoman denied that the department created the document. Technically, Morman says, it was created by a contracting firm, LRG, and that fact is noted at the bottom of each page: "For internal use only. Prepared by LRG, Inc. for Office of Workforce Investment, U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration. 8/22/03." 

    The three forums took place in July 2003, with a total of about 50 participants. The first forum was devoted to "workforce development professionals," including the chief information officer of the South Carolina Employment Security Commission. The second seminar focused on educators and members of workforce development and economic development systems. Its participants included community college officials and an official with the Missouri Department of Economic Development. The last forum was attended by members of the business community, including representatives from chambers of commerce.

    The report noted room for improvement at America’s Job Bank, including the concern that "many local jobs are not included in the information uploaded by the states to AJB."

    But the report indicated that, if anything, participants called for investing more in America’s Job Bank and the other E-Tools, especially through more marketing: "Some of the employer participants have used AJB but said that most employers are not even aware of this suite of E-Tools." In addition, they said that for DOL/ETA to invest in the development and operation of the services and then not market the services was "fiscally irresponsible."

    According to the report, participants at the forum devoted to the business community had an opportunity to call for the elimination of America’s Job Bank or other E-Tools. "Overall," the report stated, "the participants agreed that everything in the suite should be maintained."

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