By Laura Lausmann, Oregon TAA Liaison, Oregon Employment Department

Pilot projects are a great way to gauge if an idea will work, and provides Leadership the data they need to determine which ideas to move forward.

Several years ago, Oregon TAA began to utilize both formal and informal pilots to assist in specific service delivery areas.  These pilots helped support the approval for creating some unique positions within our program that would strengthen these services.

My role as Oregon’s TAA Liaison to our community colleges began during the TAACCCT grants.  I have a strong partnering skill set, and was able to forge stronger relationships with each college. The benefits our participants and program received supported the need to sustain this position. Yes, I am the product of an informal pilot! 

Around that same time, we had a Lead Worker in our Case Management Unit who had great investigative skills and took an interest in researching and filing petitions.  This work led to petitions filed on behalf of workers where previously Trade had not originally been considered as a factor. The increase in petitions filed, and the number of workers served, would later support the need for another unique role, Oregon TAA Petition Coordinator.  I have not told James, our current Petition Coordinator…that he too is the product of an informal pilot.

In 2014, we were trying out a new idea, Local Area Contacts.  With a single point of contact for each Workforce area of our state, we were beginning to seek out ways to strengthen our connections to services in each area.  Our program began to see an increase in identifying layoffs that were occurring where Trade was a contributing factor.  After a review of the data collected, our Agency and Program Leadership supported the addition of new roles within our program that we now refer to as Trade Act Navigators, or TAN or short. A pilot would soon become a best practice.

These three pilots were about the addition of specific roles to our program, and I would add that the mapping of desired attributes for these positions played a large role in the success of our pilots.  We felt we had some great ideas but needed to make sure we had the right person…in the right role. 

On the Navigator Resource page, we have shared a couple of agreements we have in place.   The first is the No-Cost Memorandum of Understanding with our Community Colleges.  We have also included the Interagency Agreement with the agency that holds the education data in our state.  For a small processing fee, we match unique customer numbers to receive credential attainment and Pell Grant eligibility data on a quarterly basis– used for reporting purposes only. 

Not all of our pilots land in the keep pile, and not all of them become a best practice. 

We will keep trying new ways to do things, share what we learn, and seek out what others are doing as well.