The mission of the State of Arizona’s Department of Economic Security (DES) is to make Arizona stronger by helping Arizonans reach their potential through temporary assistance for those in need and care for the vulnerable.
The Workforce Development Administration of DES plays an integral role in improving Arizona’s workforce by assisting individuals who are unemployed and underemployed, and those with barriers to employment, to prepare for and obtain gainful employment while promoting family success. The administration has 13 unique programs that all center around safe employment including identifying and overcoming barriers in obtaining and retaining employment such as specialized assistance in identifying solutions to clothing, shelter, and utility expenses, education, and training needs. They also help identify the right opportunity for employment based on need and skill set while supporting Arizona’s employers needs.
“Historically, providing human services has been a face-to-face interaction in an office setting. Yet there are many barriers that prevent somebody from coming into our ARIZONA@WORK Centers, such as lack of transportation or childcare. To address these challenges, our administration started to explore options for additional access points beyond traditional walk-in services that we could offer clients.”Tim Tucker | Deputy Administrator of Workforce Development Administration at Arizona DES
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically sped up the need for virtual meetings so its staff could continue serving constituents while keeping everyone safe. Tucker’s team (and all Arizona state agencies) shifted to Google Cloud products and services three years ago. Having experience with Google Workspace, Tucker quickly transitioned many general employment services to a virtual model by leveraging Google Meet for agents to interact with clients.
These sessions were easy to conduct. Employment specialists realized that meeting virtually with clients to explore skill-set awareness, instruct them how to build a resume, and, ultimately, provide job referrals that best suited them, was just as productive–if not more productive–than meeting in person.
However, with an ever-growing spike in phone interactions to schedule online meetings and answer inquiries, the administration desired technology to better optimize the front end of the process of booking appointments and uploading relevant documents prior to virtual career counseling.
Tucker reached out to Google Cloud and was introduced to SADA. “They jumped right on it. In just three months, SADA developed a secure, convenient, and affordable solution for us,” said Tucker.
Developed by SADA and powered by Google Cloud, the Virtual Appointment Scheduling Tool (VAST) solution is an online virtual scheduling tool for managing and supporting virtual appointments.
VAST enables Workforce Development Administration clients to schedule appointments with the relevant department or program they are seeking to meet their needs. Functioning as a one-stop-shop for digital scheduling, it integrates with employee calendars and video-communication tools to allow clients and employees to coordinate and communicate virtually.
SADA’s online virtual scheduling tool provides a seamless way for clients to find the information or get the support they need, whether virtually or through an automated tool.
The State of Arizona is currently promoting back-to-work campaigns and dealing with an influx of clients re-entering the workforce. VAST is featured on the DES website and allows end-users to pick a program, select a convenient date and time, and schedule an appointment with an employment specialist, in a matter of minutes. Now, DES has an opportunity to capitalize on this innovative service delivery model by making it permanent.
“We have a lot more control of our time and the ability to plan our days versus a service environment within an office. As for our clients, they are receiving improved access and more convenience. We anticipate seeing more traffic from VAST as we direct more clients to use it. Also, we are seeing interest from partner programs in the ARIZONA@WORK network that have seen the tool in action and would like to utilize it.”Tim Tucker | Deputy Administrator of Workforce Development Administration at Arizona DES
In summary, SADA helped the DES’s Workforce Development Administration to:
- Streamline the scheduling of virtual meetings for constituents and staff
- Simplify administration and workforce deployment
- Apply analytics to better understand service gaps
- Reduce burden on the agency’s phone-based scheduling system