America’s first workforce development agency to support the irregular workforce
Looking for the WorkLB site? Click here. The CalFLEXI portal is here.
Ad-hoc employment is growing. Over 30% of Americans were reported to be reliant on at least some uncertain employment in December 2019. With economic uncertainty, it could be 50% in 2021.
Some of these individuals can’t get a job with regular hours. Others have issues such as illness, caregiving, parenting, studying or a home business that fluctuate day-to-day. They can only work around those ever-changing life commitments.
Pacific Gateway, the public workforce board for City of Long Beach and surrounding areas, has an innovative program to support this hard-pressed workforce. Funded by four national philanthropies, our project won the US Conference of Mayors’ prize for best job or economic development initiative in America.
What we are doing
We have a platform for all types of hourly work that is built around protections, control, stability and progression for work-seekers, plus quality of workforce and alignment with local needs. Branded CalFLEXI, the underlying technology, was developed in British government programs.
Our WorkLB program helps service users turn irregular work into a ladder. It interfaces into public support for vulnerable workers.
We are learning about how public agencies can adapt to an era where many people could find it hard to get a traditional job with regular hours, benefits and promotion prospects. And how breadwinners who can only work ad-hoc hours because of complex lives can be given options and career prospects. All our learning is shared.
Our current status
Working with workforce agencies around the US, we have developed insights into how citywide markets for hourly work can most effectively be launched. Our manual on this was published by Kauffman Foundation with forewords from the Mayors of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
We were scheduled to launch the platform for our region in Spring 2020. Focus had been on building demand for workers initially in the hospitality/events/group childcare sectors. This demand collapsed with Coronavirus.
In April 2020, the Mayor of Long Beach announced our pivot to focusing on flexible at-home childcare. Hundreds of support teachers, youth leaders, and other childcare professionals signed up within days. Countless families are struggling with childcare in the pandemic. Few can afford a full-time nanny. Our service provides cost-effective care by a known worker at precise times of need.
Pacific Gateway Workforce Partnership: We are the 501(c)3 set up set up by the Long Beach workforce board to support populations who fall outside traditional workforce services. We drive innovation in the workforce system.
Skills4Care: the non-profit arm of Long Beach based Cambrian Homecare is the employer of record in our first market. They also work with families taking on caring responsibilities.
Beyond Jobs: This non-profit emerged from British government programs that created new marketplaces for hourly labor. We draw on their technology and expertise.
Our future plans
We are working with employers, industry bodies, educators, unions and other stakeholders to shape markets for hour-by-hour work that are equitable and inclusive. They must offer pathways to progression.
As economic activity starts to pick up we are looking at sectors like distribution, at-home care, manufacturing, building trades, retail, hospitality and others. We seek opportunity for workforce development for individuals who may not be in a traditional job.
We share our insights with other public agencies, in California and beyond. Several are currently following our lead towards extending support into the fragmented labor market.
Background to our project
About 20% of the workforce have always needed work that fits around unpredictable commitments in the life. These people are often marginalized by government and philanthropic programs aiming to create traditional jobs.
In the last few years, “gig work” has increased, driven by changing lifestyles, new patterns of demand and emerging technologies. Legislative battles with commercial gig work platforms, such as California’s AB5 law, have made headlines.
Developments like this prompted bodies such as National Association of State Workforce Agencies, National Association of Workforce Boards, National Governors’ Association and Living Cities to explore a public option for anyone needing local ad-hoc employment. Work by Annie Casey Foundation involved workforce agencies around the nation on these issues. Pacific Gateway was then selected as the initial workforce board to develop this exciting possibility.
Pacific Gateway Workforce Partnership (562) 570 3747, firstname.lastname@example.org