WPTI’s 2023 DTI Learning Community held its final session on Wednesday, September 13th.
The session marked the culmination of the five-month learning community, as cohort members came together to share their Capstone projects: Digital Transformation Roadmaps for their own workforce programs.
Between April and September 2023, teams of practitioners from New York City-based workforce development programs met regularly for interactive group sessions, multiple rounds of organizational strategy consulting, individual research, and more. Over the course of the learning community, they explored critical issues at the nexus of the digital revolution, employment, and workforce development: the digital skills gap as a driver of economic inequality; the impact of automation and task augmentation on jobs in every industry; the multiplier effect of the right technology on organizational performance and outcomes; and much, much more.
For their Digital Transformation Roadmaps, each team developed a formal presentation on ways digital tools and processes could enable their workforce programs to do – in the words of the learning community's slogan – more, better, faster, and cheaper.
Each presentation included the following pieces:
- Overview of the organization's trainings, staffing and participants.
- Current challenges or inefficiencies that digital tools could improve, in five areas of operations: Participant Recruitment, Intake & Engagement; Classroom Training; Data Collection & Sharing; Employer Engagement; and Post-Placement Tracking & Alumni Support.
- Deep dive into one challenge area and the specific digital solutions under consideration, including a live demonstration of one tool.
- Mapping the resources, support, and timeline needed to implement identified solutions, and potential barriers to success.
The Capstone Presentations
Reflecting the diversity of the DTI Learning Community, each presentation highlighted a different aspect of operations.
Emma’s Torch provides in-depth culinary, employability, equity, and empowerment training to recent refugees through its non-profit social enterprises. The Emma’s Torch team focused their presentation on the difficulties of assessing “soft skills” of participants from diverse backgrounds, the logistical challenges culinary instructors face in submitting timely case notes in a kitchen environment, and revamping the program application process to make it both more accessible to non-native English speakers and more automated for staff. The team had mapped the application process's 15 behind-the-scenes steps, and identified ways to automate at least 10. They demoed an online intake form developed in Form Assembly that automatically creates or updates an applicant's record in the organization’s Salesforce system. The form even integrates the Google Translate API to provide an automated translation into applicants' preferred languages.
New York Center for Interpersonal Development (NYCID), a Staten Island nonprofit that promotes youth development, community development, and conflict resolution, focused on identifying systems that can streamline and centralize data collection, especially to improve participant outreach results. The NYCID team demoed Hubspot, a sales-and-marketing-focused CRM that provides a robust, integrated suite of customer data collection and communication tools even for its free tier.
Consortium for Worker Education (CWE) is the workforce development arm of local unions that serves over 60,000 New York City workers annually. The CWE team focused on automating data flow between the various learning management and content delivery platforms that enable it to deliver training experiences at scale. The team demoed Zapier, a “middleware” tool that serves as a conduit between thousands of online platforms. Among other solutions CWE has developed, Zapier automatically copies data that participants enter in CWE’s testing website to an analytics platform for advanced evaluation – a process previously done by hand for hundreds of tests at a time.
St. Nick’s Alliance, a prominent Brooklyn multiservice CBO, focused on digital strategies to refine its employer engagement practices and develop stronger relationships with a broader range of companies, ultimately providing participants with more and better job opportunities. The team demoed Octoparse, an online “scraper” that can compile large amounts of targeted data from various sources and offer it as a unified spreadsheet. They showed an example list that Octoparse generated from Google Maps, of hundreds of companies located in a specific area that hire positions aligned with St. Nick's trainings. Building a similar spreadsheet by hand would require hours of tedious copying and pasting.