The original article was written in August 2014 for the publication of the September edition of the Chamber Review, which is an e-newsletter of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The article was published on September 8, 2014.
The best way to define the term Rapid Response is to state what it is not. Rapid Response is not rapid and emergency response by the fire, medical, or police professions. Rapid Response is a workforce system initiative; a regional asset, a federally funded and mandated program, administered by states under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), to assist dislocated workers (military veterans and private sector employees), who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, in getting back to work as quickly as possible after a closing, layoff, or reduction-in-force.
A successful proactive Rapid Response program is the frontend piece and key component in any job loss transition pathway. Successful Rapid Response rapid reemployment programs should have the following key components: (1) An early warning intelligence and information (WIIN) and confirmation of a job loss network; this equates to early involvement and the extension of the transition timeline. (2) A protracted or delayed terminal or separation date allows for workforce system connectivity, need assessment survey completion, job matching, and up-skilling and training to become more employable. (3) An income maintenance/asset protection strategy, because when a person is out of work, time is a precious commodity in maintaining some semblance of the same standard of living, assets, and resources. (4) The choice of a career that is in-demand; this type of career field will diminish the amount of times one is in a future job loss transition. (5) Engagement and focus on the needs of the employer, because the employer is the gatekeeper of human employment capital. (6) Engagement and collaborative partnerships with workforce partners, because they have the resources to train and match skill sets. (7) Training programs should be innovative, creative, and embrace change to remain relevant and transformational. The military veteran, private sector dislocated workers, and traditional students should have different training approaches, paradigms, curriculums, and career paths.
Exiting military and veteran dislocated workers want effectual career alignment and paths, credit for experience, and do not want to be reinvented. In the Prudential Report, May 2012, sixty percent of military members were concerned about how their military skills will translate to civilian jobs (Veteran Triangle for Success: Impassioned Engagement, October 2013). Further, the military, veteran, and private sector dislocated workers have attained assets and financial resources they are trying to protect. So again, time is a precious commodity. Most traditional students have neither experience nor substantial acquired assets. Additionally, programs, processes, and organizations should feed the effort… meeting the person in transition where he or she is; and, after a needs assessment, train only to required skill deficits. Skill deficit training provides focus, specificity, saves time, valuable fiscal resources, and recognizes experience and prior learning. And (8), the final and most important phase for change to occur and for culture and mindset to shift is impassioned engagement, an input, improvement, and feedback mechanism, based on the realization that brick and mortar buildings, funding streams, and grants will not effectively and efficiently work if strategic visions and operational and tactical efforts are misaligned and separated by singular organizational silo thinking, no matter how well-intentioned. Impassioned engagement of employers, stakeholders, partners, and community-based organizations through speaker forums, summits, and think tanks allows for continuous input for change and relevancy, and better communication, understanding, and coordination in service delivery efforts. We need to continue these efforts to generate and share ideas, and identify and solve problems to make strategic visions become reality.