The Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) helps thousands of San Francisco residents train for in-demand work and connect with employment opportunities. However, the low retention rate among these workers has been an ongoing challenge for the agency. A researcher and Master in Public Policy candidate from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Cassandra Agbayani, conducted a policy analysis for OEWD to explore why retention is so difficult to promote and what promising strategies could be replicated in San Francisco.
After reviewing research on 25 retention tactics and interviewing 50 workforce development professionals across the US, the final report recommended that OEWD pilot WorkLab’s Sustainable Workforce Model to improve retention among their clients. The report found that the Model’s employer-partnered approach was key to clients maintaining permanent, unsubsidized employment.
Agbayani explained, “Employers arguably play the most important role in ensuring that workers retain their jobs. Service providers are crucial to delivering job readiness and skills development training. However, where the rubber hits the road is when clients enter the labor market and are actually on the job… Creating durable partnerships with employers is an important step to making sure a job placement works for both the employer and client.”
Agbayani’s research also confirmed the importance of the independent resource navigator, the key distinction of the Sustainable Workforce Model. “The concept is really exciting and novel” said Agbayani. “The model provides a comprehensive continuum of care, addressing the full scope of barriers or challenges that people might face once they leave the workforce system.”“I tried to figure out what really works in promoting retention, and the Sustainable Workforce Model was the only model that I came across that had been proven to be highly valuable to workforce development organizations across the country.”