Universal Design for Workforce Development
Universal Design for the Workforce Development System is an innovative collection of tools and resources designed to help workforce development professionals create services to meet the needs of businesses seeking talented employees, and career seekers hoping to improve their skills and realize their earning potential.
Public workforce development systems nationwide suffer from overextension, as they attempt to craft customized service to meet the needs of diverse customer groups and demographic constituencies. In collaboration with Rutgers University and UMASS Boston, and as part of a national collaborative demonstrating and evaluating Universal Design in the Workforce Development System, NOD is leading universal design efforts in the Maryland workforce development system. The project is funded by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
NOD and its partners in the Universal Design Collaborative believe that services should serve the widest possible range of customers, and that the lessons learned from providing high-quality services to people with disabilities can benefit all career-seekers with barriers to employment. Toward this objective, Universal Design is built on the following principles:
- The best practices serve the most customers: A single set of high-quality services can be more effective, efficient, and inclusive than a boutique of specialized services designed for small sub-groups of job seekers and businesses.
- Every agency and organization can benefit from collaboration: Collaborative local systems are more effective than those that conduct their work alone, or with a limited range of partners. Further, the One-Stop Career Center is, in most cases, the natural hub for collaborative workforce development activities in any given community.
- Businesses and career seekers are equal customers of the workforce development system: Better service for one means better outcomes for both.
- Highly coordinated services are essential for all customers: Given the wide range of services available to businesses and career seekers, workforce agencies and organizations should build a network of seamlessly coordinated services across the community that are accessible at multiple points.
- Greater alignment between workforce development and economic development will benefit both systems: To provide a full array of effective and coordinated business development services, workforce development organizations should align themselves with economic development organizations.
Universal Design for Workforce Development is an ongoing project for NOD and its partners. For more information, please visit the National Center on Workforce and Disability.