Washington overhauls job-matching site

Artificial intelligence and semantic technology from Monster Government Solutions help automate parts of the decision-making process.

Washington  Gov. Jay Inslee wants to help spur workforce development throughout the state by rolling out a jobs-matching website that combines features of the state’s WorkSource job matching site and technology from jobs powerhouse, Monster Worldwide Inc.

The upgraded website, called WorkSourceWA.com, offers employers improved job recruitment tools, talent-management software to find candidates faster and ways to perform side-by-side comparisons of job seeker attributes.

“This partnership will help our state reduce unemployment and grow our economy, while ensuring that Washingtonian workers and employers have opportunities to be successful and prosper,” Inslee said.

The site is powered by Monster but carries Washington State branding and data. It offers job seekers resume-builder tools so they can stand out in the candidate pool as well as skills and assessment tools to help them explore opportunities  and chart progress throughout their careers. An integrated case management system also helps expert advisors in 60 statewide resource centers help residents find jobs.

In the 14 years prior to relaunching the site, the state’s employment security office hosted a mainframe-based labor exchange that was mostly a system for organizing paperwork.

“Employers posted jobs and job seekers posted resumes, but people looked at the piles and did the actual match,” said Dale Peinecke, commissioner of Washington's Employment Security Department.

Two years ago the state launched a search for a technology partner to modernize the program,   choosing Monster Government Solutions. In addition to having 20 years’ experience in jobs matching, Monster had a valuable technology advantage: artificial intelligence and semantic technology that could help automate parts of the decision making process.

“With the Monster Government Solutions technology piece, we’ve got artificial intelligence that does the matching,” Peinecke said. “That allows our people to spend more time doing career or employer counseling and move cases forward.”

The site also prompts the state’s field of career specialists to engage directly with employers and job seekers to find where they have a match or where they might have a skills gap for which an additional credential or course work might be necessary for the candidate.

The expert panel helps round out a dynamic, “clicks and bricks” approach to meeting the state’s workforce development challenges, Peinecke said.

“It’s a game changer in the way that it affects not only the administrative piece of labor exchange but the broader piece of how we close skills gaps for employers and how we develop a talent pipeline and for growing the Washington state economy,” Peinecke said.

The state is using the jobs platform to work with the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a joint Army and Air Force facility near Tacoma, Wash., through which some 6,000 military personnel transition every year. In doing so, the state is enrolling transitioning military personnel into the state’s job system, where it believes they will have higher placement success with employers looking for military-oriented skill sets.

The state is also enrolling community and technical college students into the system, as well as 70,000 high school seniors across the state whose skills may not have been previously tested or recorded.

Younger, millennial-generation candidates may take different paths into the system -- one reason Peinecke sees mobile technology as a key benefit of the program.   Multiple surveys have found that mobile devices often are a millennial’s primary computing and communications platform.  

“As our employers talk about skills gaps, sometimes they are legitimate gaps that we have to close through education,” Peinecke said. “Just as often, there are labor exchange gaps where the skills are not apparent -- someone posts something on a job bulletin board  -- and the person with the skills doesn’t post at the same time and no match is ever consummated.”

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