Case Studies

Maricopa County Workforce Development Board

Organization:Maricopa County Workforce Development Board

Benefit:Develop Local Talent

Background

The Maricopa County Workforce Development Board (referred to as “the Board”) is one of twelve Workforce Development Boards in the State of Arizona [1]. Maricopa County is the fourth largest county in the U.S. by population, to include the City of Phoenix. However, it’s worth noting that the City of Phoenix is represented by a separate Workforce Development Board. [2]

Like many geographic areas across the U.S., Maricopa County is facing several workforce challenges. These include an aging workforce of highly skilled and experienced workers, particularly in the construction industry, the desire to attract new and more diverse talent, and the need to implement workforce training models that effectively develop and upskill talent. The Board actively embraces the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) model because it helps address these challenges and offers numerous benefits, to include a systematic approach to training, an ability to provide for a stable and reliable pipeline of workers, strong results in terms of employee retention, and an increase in employer affinity. This has been the experience of the Board in the building trades, for example, where demand is high and career potential is great. 

The RAP model consists of two primary components: Paid, On-the-Job Learning (OJL) and an academic component that supports the OJL, which is referred to as Related Instruction (RI). Based on workforce data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Participant Individual Record Layout (PIRL) electronic record-keeping system, the Maricopa County Board ranks number one in the U.S. in terms of WIOA-eligible participants who are also registered apprentices. This means the Board is supporting one or both components of the RAP, which demonstrates the integration between the RAP model and WIOA program services.

Internal Structure and Operations

In Maricopa County, Career Advisors (CAs) are staff who work with WIOA participants that receive individualized services, including occupational skill training. All CAs promote apprenticeships and also provide on-going case management support; however, two designated CAs work exclusively with Registered Apprenticeship. These two CAs have solid relationships with training schools, become experts in the individual programs, and are granted physical space within the respective training facility. They conduct on-site orientations and enrollment into WIOA, which includes a needs assessment (e.g., tools, boots, clothing) and processing the required paperwork so that, in many instances, individuals don’t need to go to the local American Job Center to receive these services.

Currently, Maricopa County is primarily focused on the construction trades due to the high workforce demand and high wage career opportunities.  They work closely with six partners in the building trades, representing both union and non-union companies.  Current occupational titles include electricians, heating and air conditioning mechanics and installers, pipe fitters and steamfitters, plumbers, and sheet metal workers.

Results that Demonstrate Impact

In terms of WIOA enrollments into Registered Apprenticeship opportunities, based on WIOA program data from Program Year 2019 (7/01/2019 - 6/30/2020), over 17% of apprenticeship participants are ex-offenders, a key target population for Maricopa County, and 10% are veterans, another key target population.  Data also show that participation in Registered Apprenticeships yields higher outcomes relative to the broader program participant pool. For instance, looking at WIOA exiters [3] from 7/1/2018 through 6/30/2019, we know that Maricopa County WIOA Adult Program Apprenticeship participants had a 93.6% employment rate during the 2nd quarter after program exit, 22 points higher than the statewide rate for the WIOA Adult Program.

PY19 WIOA Adult Program Performance
Indicator:  Entered Employment Rate, 2nd Quarter after Exit

Category

Employment Rate

Arizona Statewide

71.6%

Apprenticeship Participants, Maricopa County

93.6%

In addition to ongoing case management and supportive services, WIOA helps to fund the RI component of each Registered Apprenticeship program, up to $4,000 for in-demand occupations. This funding generally supports students in their first year of the apprenticeship program when wages are lower.

Currently, Maricopa County is focusing on expansion goals, to include increasing the percentage of justice-involved individuals in Registered Apprenticeship programs, and expanding partnerships into new industries, to include information technology, healthcare, and manufacturing.

General Tips for Working with your Workforce Development Board:

  • Engage leadership at every level. This includes discussing the value of apprenticeship with your State Workforce Agency, local elected officials, local Workforce Development Board, and service providers.
  • Conduct regular check-ins. Meet one-on-one with your local apprenticeship programs.
  • Design a process that works for everyone. Identify common goals and build a collaboration based on these shared goals. Then implement the plan, continuously learn, and identify ways to improve.
  • Ensure you and your team understand apprenticeship. This includes business development team members who are interfacing with employers.
  • Identify dedicated staff to work with apprenticeship programs. Ensure that staff understand the process from both workforce development board and program perspectives.
  • Identify a dedicated staff member to sit on-site at the apprenticeship location.  This person serves as a liaison and can help to ensure communication between programs.
  • Maintain regular communication with leadership and among teams.
  • Conduct a needs assessment and provide supportive services that enable successful participation. This may include streamlining services whenever possible and meeting participants where they are by providing onsite orientations and enrollment, and on-going case management services.
  • Work with local elected officials to encourage labor representation on your local Workforce Development Board.
  • Celebrate successes. Be sure to include leadership, team members, and partners who are instrumental to program success.

For more information on how Maricopa County utilizes Registered Apprenticeship as a robust talent development strategy, please contact Deb Furlong, Program Manager in the Workforce Development Division of the Maricopa County Human Services Department, at Deb.Furlong@maricopa.gov.

 

[1]Workforce Development Boards are strategic planning bodies that receive WIOA Title I funding allocations from their respective State.  Each Board consists of multiple agency and private sector representatives, with private sector representatives in the majority to ensure local boards are “business-driven.”

[2]In other words, WIOA funding is allocated separately to the City of Phoenix and to Maricopa County.

[3]The term exiter is a WIOA-specific term signifying an individual WIOA participant who has not received workforce services in 90 days with no future services scheduled; at that point, the WIOA “exit date” is then applied retroactively to the last date of service.  Thus, you cannot have an exiter without first having 90 days of no service.  Most performance metrics are based on exiters.