I have two new opportunities toward increased worker retention for you in today’s 3-minute read.

🚨 A different sort of letter: I’m transitioning to a new format and release date for these letters, starting in April.

  • So you still get a rundown of the latest workforce news and happenings, you’ll receive our revamped Working in Austin newsletter, released at the end of each month.
  • I’ll still send you CEO Letters — just once in the middle of each month. But the content will be a bit more personal…

Let’s dive in…

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1. Why soft skills should go beyond entry-level workers

Once a month, I have the privilege of meeting with Aaron Demerson, the Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Employers, to discuss and strategize state and local workforce initiatives.

In my chat last week with the Commissioner, I was struck by an SXSW EDU panel he participated in on adapting soft skills training for today’s workforce — and why these skills should go beyond entry-level workers.

  • Soft skills are often considered an entry-level need. But employers — including directors and supervisors — need access to soft skills too.

Why it matters: Soft skills are hard to define, but we can tell when they are lacking. They can make or break our collective ability to work together effectively.

  • Think about it: Have you ever liked your work but considered leaving for another job because you didn’t like your boss’s management style?
  • Yes, and: Retention becomes a concern in these work environments, especially as the country sees an unprecedented number of workers quitting and moving to other jobs.
  • Bottom line: We are beyond the days of “because I give you a paycheck, I treat you well.”

What WFS is doing about it: In partnership with Metrix Learning, Workforce Solutions Capital Area just launched a new, free online learning platform available to all Austin-Travis County residents.

  • Metrix Learning offers 6,000+ courses in many industries and fields fit for any work environment to continue furthering your hard and soft skills.

✅ Get started:

  • For jobseekers or workers wanting to enhance their skill set, get started here to complete their custom learning track.
  • For employers who want to go beyond technical training to include soft skills in their employee development, get started by building a custom training track for your employees here.

Sidebar: Did you know our career and outreach specialists work with local school districts and agencies to provide soft skills workshops?

  • See one of our short videos on soft skills here.

Go deeper.

2. Area leaders examine lessons learned two years into COVID-19 pandemic

As we hit the two-year mark since the start of the pandemic, many local business owners have not escaped the pandemic’s effects — from forced closures to modified operations to troubles filling staff.

Driving the news: According to local leaders, many of the changes brought about by COVID-19 will likely fade with the pandemic, while others may be here to stay.

  • Amber Warne, director of upskilling and advancement at Workforce Solutions Capital Area, spoke with Community Impact on issues within the business community.

On our radar: Hiring issuesassociated with COVID-19 should fade with the pandemic. But until then, many affected business owners are likely to continue facing these struggles.

  • One reason for the labor shortage is the ongoing fear around the pandemic and requirements and changes around COVID-19.

What they’re saying: Hutto bakery and coffee shopBaked ’n Sconed closed its dining room in March 2020 and has been operating exclusively as a drive-thru ever since.

  • Owner Tiffany Anders said she originally made the change because of COVID-19 safety concerns and more recently has not been able to return to normal operations because of a lack of staff.

How we can help: WFS offers assistance to businesses that struggle to find workers, including candidate vetting and help with retention strategies such as upskilling and training grants for current workers.

  • Warne also recommends businesses look for ways to offer opportunities for advancement within the company and consider raising wages to compete for staff.
  • Of note: WFS also provides wrap-around services to customers while enrolled in training with us. These services include transportation and childcare assistance and can address the challenges workers face.

💸 1 month left: Companies can apply for up to $50,000 to train their employees with Incumbent Worker Training through Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

Go deeper.

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