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Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative partners to address voluntary unemployment with new Quality Jobs Framework.

Workers are leaving the job market. Whether we call it the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle or the Big Quit — for businesses looking to attract employees the problem is the same: meeting worker needs by providing quality jobs. Clackamas Workforce Partnership may have the answer.PMG FILE PHOTO - Oregon's Employment Department has been busy in 2021 and 2022 trying to match unemployed workers and their skills with the surplus of jobs. The pandemic has made job seekers more choosy about flexibility and benefits, according to experts.

Clackamas Workforce Partnership's new Quality Jobs Framework seeks to spur communication between businesses and potential employees to the benefit of both parties. Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative's Quality Jobs Framework seeks to provide a blueprint of actionable, detailed strategies for companies to improve their jobs and work conditions to recruit, hire and retain workers.

"The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic decline calls for bold, deliberate changes to stabilize the region's workforce and ensure an equitable economic recovery," said Bridget Dazey, executive director of Clackamas Workforce Partnership. "We are excited to introduce the Quality Jobs Framework to help increase the number of quality jobs and improve the regional economy for everyone, especially those hit hardest by the pandemic."PMG FILE PHOTO: PATRICK MALEE - Lake Oswego's Gemini Bar and Grill reopened in summer 2021 but struggled to hire new employees. Economists say the reason for the high number of job openings is a complex issue.

According to the framework, a quality job consists of several elements intended to provide a regional approach. The framework guides standards for local businesses, resources to help with implementation and to develop a roadmap of actions that can be taken to improve the current situation for both workers and businesses. The characteristics of a Quality Job according to the framework are:

• A sufficient income to afford a decent standard of living.

• Safe and inclusive working conditions that offer employees dignity and respect while encouraging their workplace engagement.

• Predictable hours to minimize hardship on employees and their families.

• Comprehensive benefits that increase economic security and improve health and overall well-being.

• Accessible and transparent hiring and onboarding to ensure employers and employees are set for success.

• Training and advancement opportunities to build skills and access new roles and responsibilities.

Nineteen participants representing businesses, employees, service providers and government agencies developed the framework over a six-month period.

"We are implementing at the local level what's being discussed nationally about job quality," said Miriam Halliday, CEO of Workforce Southwest Washington. "In addition to improving conditions for workers, quality jobs are good for business and can contribute to increased employee morale and productivity and decreased turnover."PMG FILE PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Jorge Meza and Christopher Dominguez Ford attend a job fair in September 2021 at Clackamas Town Center. The Metro area's job market is tight and now is the time for employers to offer perks and benefits as well as increased wages, according to experts.

"Companies, municipalities and nonprofits that are looking for employees and are wanting to help create a more equitable regional economy should consider adopting the Quality Jobs Framework," said Andrew McGough, executive director of Worksystems.

The Quality Jobs Framework calls for jobs that are "equitable," which isn't defined as equal. The framework recognizes that individuals have different needs, as do the communities they inhabit, so these differences need to be recognized by employers if they hope to compete in today's job market. Businesses seeking to engage in "equitable" job practices should have the edge over their competition in stemming the tide of the Great Resignation by creating jobs that recognize the inherent value of quality workers.

"What our goal is for businesses and job seekers is to have the knowledge as they engage in a new hire or a new position to say this is what works for me, and this is what doesn't work for me — and the ultimate result is creating more equity in the system," Dazey said.

Dazey provided an example of a business with 10 employees, each of them at different stages in life, some with children, some without, some single, some married.

"Instead of a blanket of generalized benefits, the idea of quality jobs and equity surrounding it is it looks at the individual — a more person-centered approach and seeing what each person needs — and giving the person the platform to really voice that the traditional approach to work isn't working for me but I have an idea what might, and the businesses are open to the flexibility it creates in the work environment," Dazey said. "An example might be one person needs to work 7-4 instead of 8-5 because of child care or after school/parent activities, or would prefer to work remote two out of the five days a week to cut down on commuter hours. Acknowledging those differences, respecting the individual needs, will begin to create a more person center equitable workplace."

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