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California EDD - PillowTex Corporation

Workforce Solutions ~ O*NET Contributions

California ~ Smoothing Transitions for Dislocated Workers

Business Need: In mid-2003, PillowTex Corporation (maker of household textiles like Fieldcrest and Cannon) declared bankruptcy and closed plants employing 6,000 workers across 8 states. The company asked state employment agencies to help their workers find new jobs.

Workforce Solution: In California, the Labor Market Information Division (LMID) of the State Employment Development Department (EDD) created a rapid response toolkit to help frontline local agency staff serve the former PillowTex employees quickly and efficiently. Based on earlier experience with plant closings, LMID's researchers knew how to produce customized "just-in-time" Labor Market Information (LMI) to respond quickly to mass layoffs. They also knew O*NET OnLine could be used to help workers identify their current skills and abilities and link them to alternative occupations calling for similar skills.

"How to" Help Kit: LMID staff created a comprehensive "how to" instruction kit for case managers, rapid response teams, and One-Stop staff. It outlined a step-by-step process for using O*NET information in conjunction with the State's currently available LMI and other job search resources to smooth the transition to new jobs for laid-off workers. Because a large number had been employed in similar positions, professional staff could prepare a worker-friendly LMI packet for each of the affected occupations. The packets could be used to help the unemployed move efficiently through the tough process of finding viable new jobs.

O*NET Contribution: LMID's toolkit explained how to use O*NET OnLine's Find Occupations and Skills Search capabilities to assist workers in identifying the skills they had developed in their former jobs. Its Related Occupations feature provided lists of other occupations that might employ the same skills. The manual explained how staff could drill down through Related Occupations to find a larger universe of relevant occupations for clients. Labor market information, like employment outlook and wages, could be included for potential occupations because of O*NET's compatibility with LMI classifications and sources.

Mining the data: If local professionals needed to find still other employment possibilities for client packets, LMID's manual explained how to download and "mine" the O*NET database using key occupational characteristics. For example, a Detailed Report for Sewing Machine Operators shows "Wrist-finger speed" as an important ability for the occupation. Using the Abilities table, staff could search and sort all 900+ O*NET occupations according to their need for this requirement. If workers had challenges such as limited English literacy or physical limitations, staff could identify occupations that did not require these particular abilities.

The toolkit explained how to identify industries and businesses that might offer relevant employment and how to help workers conduct a successful job search. It also listed resources offering other career development and job search assistance.

Results: LMID made the toolkit available to workforce agencies in California and the other states with PillowTex plants. The kit provided a process for smoothing a dislocated worker's transition to new employment. It enabled the agencies to prepare customized "just-in-time" resources and professional support for clients. Using the O*NET system, they could offer a depth of service previously impractical because of time constraints. EDD staff estimate that this helped serve 375 dislocated PillowTex workers in Los Angeles and 6,450 nationwide. The National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) sent copies of the toolkit to all LMI Directors, with suggestions on how they could use it to offer similar assistance in future plant closings and mass layoffs in their states.

Recently, the toolkit was updated to incorporate the features of California's new Web site: http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/ and was presented to the California Workforce Association conference in San Diego. The "LaborMarketInfo" site is one of the Workforce Informer-based LMI Web sites now available in 14 states, so similar functionality should apply in those states as well.

Contact:
Janet Peters, Manager, Occupational Research Unit, LMID, California EDD
Telephone: 966-262-2368
Email: lmid.jpeters@edd.ca.gov
URL: http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/