Voices from the Frontline

Voices from the Frontline

Update 8/4/2020

WPTI and the Workforce Field Building Hub are pleased to announce the official release of Voices from the Frontline: An Introduction to New York City's Frontline Workforce Professionals, the first in our Voices from the Frontline series. This report provides insight into the workplace experiences of frontline workers in New York City’s workforce development field – the job developers and case managers, the instructors and job coaches and retention specialists, and others working tirelessly on behalf of New York’s unemployed and underemployed on a daily basis.

As addressed in the report, the more than 350 responses to our 2020 Survey of NYC Frontline Workforce Professionals provide valuable insight into the people doing the critical work of helping New Yorkers secure quality employment and advance in their careers, and paint a picture of a highly-educated workforce that is disproportionately made up of women and people of color, generally taking on a multitude of job duties while earning low wages relative to their experience. The report explores the challenges facing these workers, as well as their perceptions of their opportunities to succeed, remain, and advance within the workforce field.

To read the report, click here.

Update 7/27/2020

WPTI and the Workforce Field Building Hub are pleased to announce the first virtual briefing and discussion in connection with our Voices from the Frontline initiative. The session will take place on Thursday, August 6, 2020. Click here to learn more and to RSVP for the briefing.

The Workforce Field Building Hub (“The Hub”) at Workforce Professionals Training Institute (“WPTI”) is pleased to announce the official launch of Voices from the Frontline, an initiative devoted to examining and elevating the experiences of the professionals providing frontline services across New York City’s workforce system.

The Voices from the Frontline initiative explores:

  • Who comprises New York City’s workforce development frontline workforce;
  • Their motivations for entering and staying in—or leaving—the workforce development field;
  • Their long-term career goals;
  • The challenges they face on a day-to-day basis; and
  • The effects of city policies and funding conditions—public and philanthropic—on their work experience.

The 2020 Survey of NYC Frontline Workforce Professionals

Released in January 2020, the 2020 Survey of NYC Frontline Workforce Professionals examines critical issues directly impacting the day-to-day work experience of the people performing critical client-facing work, affecting their morale, their performance, and ultimately their decision to remain in the workforce field. These individuals work as case managers, job developers, instructors, job coaches, intake specialists, and in other roles that primarily focus on direct client interaction.

Primary themes covered in the survey include:

  • Wages, hours, and benefits
  • Career advancement and professional development opportunities
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • The experience of contract, outcome and documentation compliance
  • Workplace culture
  • Future career goals and plans

Through this survey, we aim to better understand the workers who make up the frontline staff of the city’s vast array of workforce development programs; what motivates them to perform this challenging work; and what changes are needed at the organizational and systemic levels to keep them in the field, allow them to advance in their careers, and provide the highest quality of service.

A diverse group of 362 professionals completed the survey between January and February 2020, and we look forward to sharing data in a report to be issued in the coming months.

This data will inform recommendations and additional analysis, to be released in a series of reports over the coming months.

Voices Brief Series

As part of Voices from the Frontline, The Hub has begun releasing a series of briefs on topics related to frontline workers, job quality, and the workforce system. The first brief was published in February 2020, and identified who exactly makes up the “frontline” of the workforce system. Our March 2020 brief examined why we are focusing on these frontline workers. Additional briefs, in the coming months, will focus on how we define job quality, policy issues around the workforce system that impact frontline workers, and more.

Current briefs include:

Brief 1: Who is the “Frontline” of the Workforce Development Field? (February 2020)

Brief 2: Why Focus on Frontline Workforce Professionals? (April 2020)

Brief 3: Why Focus on Job Quality? (April 2020)

Brief 4: Job Quality for Frontline Workforce Professionals (May 2020)

Brief 5: Labor and Employment Policies in New York City (June 2020)

We look forward to producing additional briefs, as well as the reports referenced above, in the coming months.

The Council of Frontline Workforce Professionals

Also in January 2020, The Hub convened a Council of Frontline Workforce Professionals, consisting of five individuals in a variety of client-facing positions at organizations across the city. So far, this group has weighed in on the survey, assisted in outreach, and provided additional support for and feedback on WPTI and Hub initiatives. As survey data is analyzed and reports are drafted, the Council will continue to provide valuable input to validate survey findings and craft recommendations for the workforce system.

If you have any questions about the survey or any related issues, please contact Justin Collins, Assistant Director of the Workforce Field Building Hub, at jcollins@workforceprofessionals.org.