When Everyone Thinks You’re Something Different
February 7, 2020

Rob Guentter Jr.

Staff to the Board, Ohio Workforce Development Area 16

Too often, we learn that perception is reality.

OhioMeansJobs matches job seekers with employers in Ohio. But we were surprised to discover that our key constituencies thought of us as a welfare agency.

Leaders in business, education, and economic

development and the government told us the OMJ-One-Stop centers in our four-county area were welfare offices. Even more, they were not aware of all the services we offered.

Given their perceptions, perhaps it wasn’t surprising that they were not engaging our services.

The perceptions came to the surface in 2017 as Thomas P. Miller & Associates facilitated the development of a Workforce Development Area 16 (WDA16) Local and Regional WIOA Workforce Plan.

It is true that the Ohio Department of Family Services oversees both social service and workforce programs. However, the actual day-to-day operations and staffing are separate. OMJ-One Stop is all about employment, and only about employment.

My epiphany was that we needed to better inform both businesses and job seekers about the purposes and scope of services available at our OMJ-One-Stop Centers.

These insights have informed the action strategy now underway in WDA16. Our workforce plan is now securing a dedicated business outreach team and developing a standard operating procedure to create a unified, professional look and feel for all four areas OMJ-One-Stops. We also are developing outreach to inform constituents about how OMJ-One-Stop services can help them.

In less than two years we have implemented all three actions, including the operating plan.

As we move forward, we continue to evaluate and revise our strategies and actions to further improve workforce prosperity in our region.

Robert Guentter Jr. has worked in community and economic development for over 20 years in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Having earned a bachelor of science and master of public administration degrees from Penn State, he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a graduate of the Cooke Strategic Planning Institute.