As part of our partnership with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA), we have the privilege of working with the organization’s President, Dr. Rochelle Webb.

Dr. Webb formerly worked for Arizona Department of Economic Security in Phoenix. In addition to serving as NASWA’s President, she was recently nominated to serve as Director of the District of Columbia (DC) Department of Employment Services (DOES) by Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

Her passion for being a public servant is just as impressive as her 20 years of experience. On September 29, 2010, Dr. Webb testified at a hearing on Federal Contractor Compliance held by the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. In her testimony, she explained the purpose and the needs of the National Labor Exchange (NLX), and asked for the NLX to be supported and empowered to compile all jobs appearing on Federal Contractors’ corporate websites and import them into States’ job banks at no cost. Dr. Webb also recommended webinar training for all OFCCP staff on the NLX and VetCentral. You can read more from Jolene’s Take blog post about the testimony and watch the recorded session below.

Dr. Rochelle Webb’s Testimony On The Hill.

We caught up with Dr. Webb this past fall at our Annual Conference to talk about the relationship between NASWA and DirectEmployers. (Please note this interview was prior to her move to the DOES.)

Rochelle, can you introduce yourself and tell me about your positions?
My name is Rochelle Webb and I work for the Arizona Department of Economic Security in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m also the president of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA). I’ve been with the Arizona Department of Economic Security since 2004 and I was elected President-elect of NASWA last year in 2009 and became its President just this past September in 2010.

That’s a pretty big responsibility. How has that been going so far for you?
You know, I love it. I came into workforce after I spent about 15 years working in human services, so I consider myself a public servant. Moving over to workforce has its own challenges. This year with the economy being so fragile, we’ve been focused on workforce issues, getting jobs for our citizens and individuals and also just dealing with the grapping unemployment insurance rate, that’s facing not only Arizona, but all states facing the same problems.

Tell me a little bit more about the value of DirectEmployers for your particular partnership and some of the specifics of what it does for you.
Without DirectEmployers, we would only be able to offer our individual state job banks. That would pretty much just limit job seekers to jobs that are currently open in the states in which they reside. To find state jobs in other states they would actually have to go and search multiple state web sites looking for job opportunities. By having the National Labor Exchange, we’re able to have one portal into jobs throughout the country.

And, in your day-to-day work, how does it positively affect you to be connected with DirectEmployers?
Well, here’s a great stat that I looked up just last week. On just one day, the National Labor Exchange brought into the State of Arizona, 9,000 jobs….one day. I couldn’t go out and have my staff to visit employers, to try to find 9,000 jobs in my state. No state is staffed at that level. Through this relationship with DirectEmployers, we’re able to bring in jobs every single day into our state job banks to give our citizens in our states opportunities to go out and to find work, even in an economy that’s troubled.

That’s a great statistic. It is amazing. So as far as some of the products and services, obviously America’s Job Bank and the fact that DirectEmployers is able to replace it….are there other components within DirectEmployers and the membership it affords you, that you really appreciate?
The best thing about DirectEmployers is no cost to state agencies – it’s no cost to employers to participate. The smaller employers can participate directly through their state workforce agencies and larger employers can participate as Members through DirectEmployers. What this means to us is that we’re able to establish relationships and initiatives that would normally cost the state money, time and resources and we get all of that assistance for free and no cost from DirectEmployers. A specific example is the Rapid Reemployment Initiative sponsored by DirectEmployers that Arizona participates in. It’s no cost to us and allows us to identify employers who are downsizing and match them with employers who are hiring in those same fields so that we can transfer, basically one workforce from a downsizing employer to a hiring employer. That’s a benefit you cannot just go out and buy off the street.

And, tell me a little bit about why you attend the Annual Conference & Meeting that they have every year? What is the benefit to you?
For NASWA, the Annual Conference is beneficial because it allows us to strengthen our partner relationships. We meet face to face with our employers. We have an opportunity to thank them for bringing in employment opportunities and to all of the states are engaged in the National Labor Exchange, so it’s an exciting venture and it really reinforces the relationship that we look forward to continuing through at least 2017.

Tell me, for this particular conference Rochelle, what are some of your take-aways? What are some of the lessons learned, or the things that you’re excited about?
I’m most excited about the .jobs domain. And I can’t wait to look at what’s going to happen with that. Being able to just see from the Beta testing that’s happened around that initiative, the response that was garnered at how employers were able to immediately boost their job opportunities on the Internet, has been exciting. So, I look at that as another opportunity for us to be able to connect job seekers with employers, which will equal employment. It’s all good for the nation and especially for our states.

And I have one last question for you. This is kind of personal. Why are you passionate about what you do every day?
I’m passionate about what I do every day because first of all, I’m a public servant. I’m raising my grankids and my family is here. When the economy is strong, the nation is strong, and that just goes well for everybody.

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