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Career navigators in CT’s Working Cities help those seeking higher quality jobs Career navigators in CT’s Working Cities help those seeking higher quality jobs

Cities’ career navigators take varied approaches to helping residents find family-sustaining work Cities’ career navigators take varied approaches to helping residents find family-sustaining work

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December 28, 2021

For many, the pathway to a career with family-sustaining wages and benefits is riddled with obstacles.

Those inside the workforce development system often talk about offering those seeking higher-quality jobs “wraparound support.” These are career services that can augment search efforts, such as financial education and job placement assistance. In Connecticut, the Working Cities Challenge communities were able to provide wraparound support in the form of career navigation, thanks to funding from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority.

The Working Cities Challenge is a community revitalization initiative run by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. One of the most intriguing parts of the career navigation work by the WCC in Connecticut was the varied approaches the teams took. For instance, in Danbury, the career navigator established a roundtable of local manufacturers as consultants and teamed with programs that offer soft skills training (e.g., time management, problem solving, etc.).

Hartford’s navigator developed a network of navigators who focused on young adults from two neighborhoods and emphasized increasing awareness and outreach around manufacturing.

Middletown’s career navigator helped support a group of single parents after restructuring the role in partnership with Middlesex Community College.

The navigator in East Hartford offered case management, provided referrals, and helped with job searches. East Hartford also supported a Professional Skills Academy training program and hired a second navigator to support youth.

In Waterbury, the navigator assisted with job searches and made referrals to wraparound services. The navigator also partnered with a navigator from the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, a Waterbury-based employment assistance agency, to connect people to trainings supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Overall, the navigators found certain strategies were particularly effective:

  • Meeting clients “where they are” by paying attention to individual circumstances
  • Frequent, “high-touch” support, in tandem with small caseloads
  • Redesigning traditional ways to measure outcomes to better capture client progress
  • Coordination with the public workforce system
  • Taking a long-term perspective on the client-employer relationship

Learn more about Connecticut’s Working Cities by downloading this independent evaluation by Mt. Auburn Associates here.