Work smart Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2007

Work force organizations play a crucial role in filling the work force services gap in specific geographic locations. With a focused expertise in the areas of people management and an in-depth knowledge of the local economy, these entities enable everyone in the community to thrive.

“Work force organizations exist in many different forms across the country,” says Renee Benton, president and CEO of Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance. “Our primary function is to develop the economic vitality of the region by helping employers recruit, retain and train their work force.”

Smart Business learned from Benton about how companies can benefit from collaborating with work force organizations.

How do these organizations benefit all members of the community?

Workforce organizations serve as the local work force experts in their area. This includes providing a range of valuable services to both employers and candidates. For employers, these organizations work to recruit, retain, train and re-train their work force. Companies can also turn to these organizations for labor market information for the region to help businesses in producing well-researched strategic plans and projections.

For candidates, work force organizations offer skill building and networking opportunities. This can include training in job seeking skills, such as effective resume writing and interviewing techniques. Also, candidates can benefit from resources that give people experience to make them eligible for employment in new fields.

How can employers collaborate with work force organizations?

Employers benefit by utilizing the wide array of resources available at work force organizations with very little investment of their capital or people resources. They get a plethora of services, such as on-the-job training, employed worker program and current labor market information.

Employers can enjoy the services of turnkey career centers where they can conduct interviews, hold corporate meetings and use training rooms. Businesses also can benefit from access to statewide databases, such as the Employ Florida Marketplace database. Information sources like these can have up to 75,000 job candidates.

The local shared services offered by work force organizations give all companies the ability to have top-quality work force tools, capabilities and resources at a relatively low cost.

When should a business contact this type of organization?

Employers should get in touch with their local work force resource as soon as possible so they can start benefiting from their resources. Once companies connect with these organizations, they can begin to access their services and know they have a partner at each stage of their work force development. Whether a business is moving to a new location or looking for qualified management candidates, these organizations can fulfill their needs.

Another benefit of collaborating with work force organizations is easy access to knowledge of current work and HR laws and regulations. Work force experts can help employers stay on top of new legislation and assist with implementing necessary changes.

Specialization in the work force area also means these organizations can help businesses identify funding priorities and the occupations and industries that have the highest demand and use their resources to address these challenges.

How can employers make the most of their experience?

Actively participating in addressing work force issues within their companies and their communities can help employers to derive the most benefit from a work force organization. This includes maintaining an open dialog and frequent exchange of information, which leads to a thriving partnership. Taking time to understand the available resources and participating in training opportunities can also help employers obtain the maximum benefit from this collaboration.

How is Florida paving the way for work force solutions?

Florida is continually looking ahead to fill the work force needs of the future. For instance, after the 2004 hurricane season, Gov. Jeb Bush allocated funds to charter the Florida ReBuilds program. This program trained and certified candidates in several areas of the construction industry. After certification, candidates were placed with their first employers. The Florida ReBuilds partnership program helped to rebuild the local infrastructure and economy after the devastating hurricanes and trained hundreds of candidates for the construction industry.

A second initiative from the state has been the Employ Florida manufacturing banner centers. This is a partnership led by Hillsborough Community College (HCC) to ensure the technological skills of Florida workers are up to date as they work on more modern devices, such as microchips, metals and medical devices. A $500,000 grant from Workforce Florida, Inc. helped to fund the Employ Florida Banner Center for Manufacturing. The program expects to train its first 150 workers by the summer of 2008.

RENEE BENTON is president and CEO of Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance. Reach her at or (813) 740-4680.