YOUR TRAINER - Edward DeJesus
President, DeJesus Solutions and Founder of Social Capital Builders
After 20 years in workforce development, DeJesus started exploring the efficacy of a social capital approach to employment after observing a large discrepancy between the direct and indirect placement rates in over 50 programs.
A direct placement is one where the program places a participant directly in a job. An indirect placement is one where the participant places themselves by leveraging their own social and industry connections. In his review of more than 50 workforce programs, 70 percent stated that indirect placements were higher than direct placements. Program success is mainly determined by entered employment rates irrespective of how a young person gets the job, thereby leading few researchers or analysts to look at this important distinction.
While few would discount the impact of programs with high levels of indirect placements, it does raise some important questions about the efficacy of job seekers' natural networks, and how, or if, those networks are being engaged in the workforce development process.
In DeJesus’ focus groups, job seekers revealed that program participation was a signal to their social capital assets of the “seriousness” of their job-seeking efforts. Consequently, these assets actively assisted job seekers in securing work through a referral, sharing of key labor market information, and even direct job placement assistance. Moreover, it appeared that indirect placements secured through these assets tended to be accomplished more quickly, at higher pay, and better quality than those secured through other indirect channels such as job boards, placement agencies, or walk-ins.
Since then, DeJesus began conducting extensive research, literature reviews, field testing, and design of social capital-based programs, practices, and policies with the potential to greatly impact the economic life chances of low-income opportunity seekers and adults. His work on social capital was quickly identified as the missing element in workforce development by countless organizations and experts.
Today, thanks to DeJesus’ social capital research and training, more than 50 opportunity seekers service organizations are exploring ways to incorporate a social capital framework into their workforce development design.