2010 Best Practices Winner – Utah

Utah’s Department of Workforce Services has exemplified its commitment to the reemployment of UI claimants through its ground-breaking work in online automation of eligibility reviews interviewing. By engineering its Worker Profiling Reporting System to dynamically and interactively interview claimants in a rich online format, DWS was able to: 1) increase eligibility reviews more than five-fold from approximately 3% of initial claimants to 17%; 2) assess and record profiled claimant job seeker obstacles to pre-inform one stop counselors; and 3) immediately empower job seekers with online connections to specific resources. Not only has it expanded its eligibility reviews, DWS is using its REA grant to expand in person assessments to the second tier of those most likely to exhaust.

Enhanced in September 2009, Utah’s program is notable for two reasons. First, its eligibility review system is completely online which allows much fuller and richer screening of claimant responses so that staff can focus only on those claims that have a potential eligibility issue. Free of manual review of each claimant’s response, DWS has much lower staffing requirements than it would otherwise have for its new level of WPRS while enjoying a five fold increase in claims reviewed.

Second, after completing the eligibility portion of the application, claimants who have been profiled as in the first tier of those most likely to exhaust their UI benefits are automatically directed to an online orientation, assessment and referral module. Failure to participate in this module results in denial of UI benefits. The module assists staff and claimants in identifying claimant barriers to reemployment and directs claimants to resources to assist them in meeting their reemployment challenges.

Utah is complementing its front end eligibility reviews with increased face to face interviews funded by its REA grant. This dynamic online eligibility review is just one part of a comprehensive effort to retool its reemployment efforts. Complementary strategies include: 1) a wage subsidy program that gives UI claimants an opportunity to get a foot in the door with a new employer by offering the employer $2,000 to take a chance on the claimant and provide on-the-job training for three months; 2) new guidance for staff and claimants to educate claimants on their claim details and resources available for reemployment; and 3) new job matching software that uses AutoCoder software to improve the connectivity of Labor Market Information (“LMI”) with claimant job histories and job orders when matching claimant skills with job orders.