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Future of Workforce Technology in a Post-COVID World

Engage Premier Events Webinar 4-6-2021


April 6, 2021


With more than four million Americans unemployed and limited or no in-person events due to the pandemic, workforce development groups have their work cut out for them. 

Without the ability to meet in person or at a job fair, the connection gap between job counselor and participant is widening and fast. Engagement is dropping, and with it, the necessary resources job seekers need to improve skills and connect with employers.

So, what are leading professionals doing to combat these challenges?

They’re enlisting top solutions like Engage by Cell’s mobile technology and Premier Virtual’s online job and career fair platform to increase communication, share resources, maximize engagement, and ultimately, secure employment.



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Full Transcript

Christa Mallard  0:00  :  Let's go ahead and get started. Today's discussion we are going to be talking about the future of workforce technology in a post-COVID world. Specifically, how virtual hiring events and mobile technology drive engagement and improve job placement for workforce programs. We can go ahead and advance the next slide. As I mentioned, my name is Christa Mallard. I am a Senior Account Executive here at Engage by Cell. I work with clients across all sectors. But really for the past year, I have spent the bulk of my time and energy working with workforce organizations and clients. And so I'm really excited to be moderating this discussion. We've got a really super stacked panel today. I am joined by the Engage by Cell founder and CEO. And then also Steve Edwards, founder and CEO of Pemier Virtual. And Bill Walker, the Executive Director of East Local Workforce Development Area in Tennessee and Victor Oakley, who is the Performance and Information System Manager with ELWDA as well. If you all are wondering just about the connection with all of our organizations, here at Engage by Cell, we started working with Bill and Victor last fall. They adopted our text messaging platform and talked a lot since then with Bill and Victor. They've even hosted previous webinars. But they started using Premier Virtual. The state of Tennessee had contracted their services for their virtual hiring events and heard so many great things about Premier Virtual, and through Bill's recommendation we connected with Steve. I was impressed by his company, and we're so excited to have you all join us today. And so we'll go ahead and dive in. I'm going to give you a little bit of an overview, just a brief overview. And then I'm going to turn it over to our panelists to share more information, but a little bit about Engage by Cell. We are an umbrella company for Give by Cell, which is our mobile donation platforms and solutions for our nonprofit clients. We also have Guide by Cell where we provide virtual tours and engagement strategies for those in the museum and cultural institution area and also our Train by Cell where we provide HR and training solutions for enterprise clients, nonprofits, associations. We combine mobile technology with engagement and education strategies. We have been in business for about 15 years, and we work with around 4,000 clients worldwide. So in just a brief snapshot, about Premier Virtual, they are a South Florida based veteran owned business. Steve had around nine years of experience managing in-person events, traveling all over and in 2019, he really saw a need for a virtual solution. COVID-19 really accelerated the adoption curve and the platform took off. I think I was shocked, Steve shared with me that in the first 10 months they had around like 15,000 clients that they were working with already, and he will give us information about their 2.0 release. I'll let him talk to that in just a few minutes. But next I'd like to introduce East Local Workforce Development Area. They were established in 1973, and are one of nine human resource agencies across Tennessee. Now prior to COVID, they operated 11 centers across 16 counties. They work with around 5,000 clients annually and around 30,000 employers across 16 county areas. Just a quick little snapshot overview about our panelists and their organizations. But right now, I really like to start off this discussion hearing from Bill and Victor. This time last year, we all were in the very beginnings of COVID. And I think workforce organizations across the nation were experiencing all the same challenges, looking to adopt new solutions. Nobody really knew how long COVID was going to be a factor. But just to kind of shape our discussion today, I'd love to hear more from Bill and Victor, just about those challenges, and then those changes that your leadership was looking to implement. So Bill and Victor, if you don't mind, just kind of kicking off the discussion right now.

Bill Walker  5:17    :  Thank you, Christa. Welcome to everybody across the nation. In March, as all of you did, we shut down. We operated, at that time, 12 American Job Centers, across 16 counties. We have one mobile American Job Center, and we had 13 additional access points across our 16 counties, where our clients, both our job seekers and our employees, received in-person services, received supportive services, and training. What kind of changes were we looking to implement when this happened? We instantly knew that we had to go to some type of virtual service delivery. We looked at a number of platforms, Engage by Cell being one of them. And we also looked at DocuSign. So we came up with a strategy, that we would engage our existing clients and our new clients with forms that they had to sign by sending them a DocuSign envelope, in which they would sign an eligibility determination, they would sign a weekly timesheet attesting to their paid work experience. Those of you in the workforce world know what documents I'm talking about. We also adopted Engage by Cell so that we could text message our clients, knowing that we had a lot of cell phone captured information. And we knew that Engage by Cell in their SMS text messaging, as well as their video messaging was a better alternative than email. We're also able to offer our adult education clients who are studying for a high school equivalency test, or learning to read, or any of the academic disciplines within adult education, online lessons, and realize that all of our staff was working from home. So we had to, in some way, manage that staff as well. So once again, to sum up, some of the solutions that we adopted was DocuSign to maintain eligibility and enrollment, Engage by Cell and academic programs such as Khan Academy. Now, we were very early adopters of this. And about August of last year, the state inked a deal with Steve and Premier Virtual. That was just the icing on the cake for us, because now, we had a way in which we could manage job fairs, which we couldn't manage in-person, we can manage online job fairs. So beginning last year, we've been hosting monthly job fairs. Baby steps at first, the first one, I think we had 13 employers and 70 people, job seekers, the last one, we've had them monthly, the last one, we had 70 employers and 250 job seekers. So it's done nothing but grown, and the growth is attributable to Engage by Cell and Premier Virtual's reach. Victor, do you have anything to add at this point? 

Victor Oakley  8:45    :  The seamless integration between the two platforms is what really tipped us over the edge. I'm a self-proclaimed geek or nerd. And anything technology-based. I mean when it works, that does it for me. And the two of these combined were the the pivotal solution for us and coping with COVID and the changes that we experienced almost day to day and the AJC's were, one they we were at phase one, the next day, we might have less, you know, less than that. And we were back to stage two of our reopening plan. And these two things have been constant, because they were independent of whether or not our brick and mortar centers were open. 

Bill Walker  9:30    :  And I'll add one final thing to that. You know, you would expect during a time when we were virtually shut down since March 2020, and we still are to this day seeing people on an appointment-only basis in the East Tennessee Local Workforce Development Area, you would expect that we would have a degradation of enrollment to the tune of 50% to 40%. We are off only 10% from the average of the first two prior years, and we can attribute that to the fact that we've been able to keep up with our people, our customers, through virtual interface.

Christa Mallard  10:09    :  Wow, that is very impressive, Bill. Really, really impressive. And I think that's an excellent segue to allow us to dive in a little bit deeper, share with you some more specific information about Engage by Cell and Premier Virtual and how those solutions optimize job seeker engagement and job placement for not only everybody on this webinar, but then also your specific use case. I think you've done such a wonderful job, and I'm super excited to hear you be able to share more information about the implementation of the solution. So first up, to turn it over to Dave, just give us a more detailed overview about the role of Engage by Cell, the role that we play within workforce development, as an industry and just kind of the classic use case for how clients use text messaging and mobile apps not only just to drive attendance to the hiring events but how it can help with engagement as a whole. Dave, you want to go ahead and speak to that?

Dave Asheim  11:28    :  Yeah, maybe I'll just tell a story. And when I started this company Engage by Cell, we had built a couple of different technologies. One of them was this really great two-way text messaging. And as many of you that are over 50, like me, remember texting when it first came out was a little clunky, because you had to use your little flip phone. So texting wasn't that popular six, seven years ago. And then we had come out with a way that people could add content that looks and feels like an app. But it was all mobile based, all cloud based. And so we had big and still have a pretty big position in mobile training for training departments. And I met a fellow, his name is Kevin Kurdziel. And he runs workforce development for Middlesex County in New Jersey. And he came up to us at a booth and said, you know, if you marry these two things together, the sending of text messages, the letting of people text in to join lists, and then include a little bitly, a little link like you see with some of the content that you see flipping through the screen. That could be just a fantastic way to deliver learning nuggets, job fairs, get people's response to training material, and really do everything they possibly can to kind of help the job seeker go through this process. Well, that was seven or eight years ago, and it was a little cutting edge at that time. Then we kind of fast forward to the COVID days when like Bill said the office is closed, and they're looking for other ways to engage. It's pretty hard to get people to pick up the phone these days. And they're not responding to email. So this combination of sending them a little text, a little tap on the shoulder, with some news, with the link, with something to maybe think about, seems to be just the right amount of content for job seekers. So that's how we kind of we stumbled into workforce development six or seven years ago. And now, we have clients all over the country using this. So it was a little bit by accident, which is typical with technology. But I think that combination seems to really, really work with workforce, just like Bill and Victor were saying.

Christa Mallard  13:51    :  I know that we're talking specifically about workforce, Dave, but this type of technology can be really used across all sectors, right?

Dave Asheim  13:59    :  Yeah, that's right, Christa, we've got clients that are child advocacy clients, and they use this to train their volunteers. We have other folks that are using this to not only just train people, to kind of help them get their mind back into a place where they could use this as a tool to kind of improve themselves, to get ready for a job. So it's not just workforce development. It's just really anything that you think somebody might need to look at on their phone. They're gonna look at it if it comes in through a text, while if it's an email or a phone call, they just may not be as interested.

Christa Mallard  14:37    :  Right. Absolutely. Great. Okay. Well, let's move on to the second part of this overview. Bill and Victor, I'd love to hear from you just a little bit more in detail about the implementation of your texting campaign. Like you mentioned earlier, you use this to drive people to your virtual hiring events. But you've also use this to reach out to those who filed for unemployment, and some other use cases as well. So why don't you walk us through your use case with Engage by Cell text messaging, and then the results that you've seen from that.

Bill Walker  15:22    :  Thank you, Christa. So we're gonna hear from Victor in just a minute. But you mentioned the term, "we drive people to job fairs". And, you know, Steve, I like to think of Engage by Cell as being the bus that takes people to your virtual conference hall. So we see it as a vehicle in which our customers can ride to your event. Victor, please talk about the work that you have spearheaded, and the texting campaigns that we've run across registration for virtual job fairs, engagement of unemployment insurance claimants in training, and other virtual events that we've had. 

Victor Oakley  16:08    :  So we captured all of these telephone numbers through the state case management system. So we've gathered all this information, and the one thing about the Engage by Cell platform is that we don't have to tell whether or not it's a valid cell phone number. if I upload a list of potential subscribers, then the platform automatically tells me oops, you've given me a wrong telephone number or wrong type of telephone number, so that's a cool feature. So that was part of the whole list. All of the states were recipients of some cares actually implement services money, and that was geared specifically towards workforce preparedness activities in our area. So that's been a huge focus for us, because it was this other pot of money that we could provide services for individuals. So we got this huge list of names and contact information from the state CMS. And it fortunately had a telephone number. So just today, we sent text messages to about 4,000 individuals on that list. And we have additional list of 24,500 numbers that we'll probably be using to generate additional information about the services that are being offered virtually through the AJC. Tennessee's getting ready to launch a virtual American Job Center with limited services that are there now. And we're going to point them to in multiple messages, probably as long as they don't opt out. We're gonna point them to various services there. Throughout COVID, we've been trying to maintain contact with our case manager caseload. So we built user accounts for individuals so that individual case managers at some point in time, we're not quite there yet. There have been too many other projects, required training and everything else. But the career specialists are going to be able to maintain monthly, weekly, whatever schedule that they said, contact with their participants, based on Engage by Cell. Well, there, there are multiple reasons why this is important. One, because an individual has to fill out perhaps an attendance sheet, or they have to return documents to their career services person, their career specialist. And sometimes as we all know, people forget, and they forget to do things. Well, if they forget, they don't get payment, or they don't get the services that they need. So Engage by Cell is going to be a way to gently remind someone that, okay, we need this information from you. One of the things that we face in East Tennessee, because so many of our counties are rural, is that lack of high speed bandwidth. And sometimes it's lack of a stable internet connection period. So even the most severe of our populations where they have so many barriers, 9 times out of 10, that person's going to have a cell phone, that person is going to be able to utilize text messaging, even if their on a very restrictive data plan, they're still going to be able to access text. So that works for demographics that we've got a special in our rural counties, and it would enable our career specialists to reach individuals because most everybody nowadays, as we all know, walks around and they've either got that cell phone glued to their hip or their head. And they're all on social media and everything else. So that's a way for our career specialists to keep in touch with their current caseload. For the pandemic, it was a way for us to maintain contact with the outside world. Hey, we're still here, we're still offering services, which was very important, because, as Bill said, our numbers only dropped by 10% in each local area, because we had these platforms available. Some of the other areas that surround us weren't so fortunate. And they now have faced a reduction in their funds. Because, as we all know, in workforce development, there are federal performance standards and metrics that have to be met. We were the only area in the state that actually met all of its performance metrics for the last year during the pandemic. So there's Engage by Cell reaching out, keeping in contact, considering the information about the rural counties. This receive list is generated by the state system. And currently it stands at the 24,500 figure. And we will be reaching out to all of those to point them and we did some roughly 4000, people were notified of a Premier Virtual event that we're having on April, the 22nd. And anybody in the audience that might want to look at this event, I'll be happy to send you our registration link. So you can check out our Premier Virtual event by participating as an individual so you can see your organization.

Christa Mallard  21:46    :  And that's a very generous offer, Victor. So and just for any of you all interested in that, we will share everyone's contact information later. I think is a great segue to talk a little bit more in depth about Premiere Virtual. So Steve, I would love to give you the opportunity to really dive in. Tell us more about Premier Virtual. We've already heard some really great things from Bill and Victor about your company, but maybe just a little bit more about the virtual hiring event experience that you provide.

Steve Edwards  22:30    :  Thank you, everybody. You know, Bill, Victor, thanks for those kind words. My name is Steve Edwards, CEO Premier Virtual. You know, 2018, I was running an in person job fair company. And I had done it for nine years. And I got out of the army, I got into the job fair industry, but I really saw a change in the market. And you know, as we talked about the Engage by Cell text messages there, right? People would rather apply online than wait in line. And as we look, the millennials and the gen Z's, what does everybody have?  They have a cell phone, everybody has their cell phone, their laptop, their tablet, it's there, right? During this panel that we've had so far, I had 15 emails that came in, I didn't read any of them, I had two text messages that came in and guess what, I could read it real quick and respond. Text messages is immediate, it's getting there. But on the virtual hiring platform, when we built this, it was to be able to reach such a wider area of organizations now. You know, Bill and Victor with the Workforce Development Board, and like Dave said, is Engae by Cell is not just for workforce development boards, you know, we work with almost 200 workforce development boards across the country currently, but we have all different types of events that are on our platform. And when you think about what kind of virtual events are going to be there, you have your readiness events. Company shuts down, they need to get their people employed, you could do an event for them. You could do one company hiring event across an entire state, across a county, or just drive people in and have different job positions that they're hiring for. So one company you could have, like, you know, Bill and Victor did, where they had large companies. Virginia just did a statewide job fair. They had two of them. One had 15,000 candidates with over 300 companies and other one had over companies that were involved in their virtual career fair. So that kind of thing can't be done in person, is you know, having 600 companies in a room in a hotel, it's not going to happen, or it's going to cost you a whole lot of money. You know, Victor and Bill really talked about is doing a monthly job fair. And when you tie in the Engage by Cell, I love text messaging, I think text messaging is, is the future. I think, you know, not as many people will get emails, and the open rate on the text message is there. But what happens when somebody registers for a job fair? They register for an event, and then they don't think about it until they get a reminder email or a new text message. What do they open more? They open that text message. So you can be in front of them letting them know, that's what's coming on in here. You know, in just 2020 alone, we did over 1,200 virtual hiring events. So that range from a one-company to 650 companies. So it's a wide range. We did resource events, and they did events. Palm Beach County just did a big event, Claim Your Future Showcase, which was for high school students looking to talk with companies out there. So the virtual events are here to stay. And you're going to see, what's going to be talked about a lot in the future is the hybrid events, where people have an in person event today, and now that virtual event, maybe it's at the same time, maybe it's the next day, and that's a big thing that we're planning for. Because even after COVID, right, a lot of people say what's next, what's after COVID. But guess what, after COVID, people see how efficient a virtual event can be. You know, there's gonna be people that want that in person, right? Just like there's people that want to open emails that don't want to look text messages. But once text messages came out, it took over a lot of things. And it's the same thing on the virtual aspect of it, where you can get a wider range of people. I live in South Florida, right? Right now, what is everybody from New York and New Jersey? They want to move down to South Florida. So they're not going to attend an in person job fair, but they can now attend a virtual job fair. So it really opens up the remote work, no matter where you're at, on the virtual side of it. So there's a lot of opportunity with virtual and I could go on for hours. And I know I only have a certain amount of time, but any questions, you know, let us know in the chat or anything, and we can show you, and Victor said you can see one of his registration pages. And that's the one good thing I think about, really all of our clients, is they're very open to, here's how we use this. We'll do a best practice where our clients can talk to each other about how they can use that platform. And now when you look at it, what Bill and Victor are doing, you know, they're kind of the groundbreaking "Hey, how do we put two phenomenal platforms together?" One, Bill said it right, you got the you got the bus and the hotel, right? If you put these two together, your goal, I don't care if it's a workforce development, a private company, a university, or any other jobs or company, you need to get people to register. And that's great. But you need them to show up. And how do you get them to show up is send them reminder text messages, and then you're going to really see, from all events, when you're sending these out there, especially text messages, you can watch your login ratio go from 60 to 70 to 80%. You know, we've got some that had 90% because they're using platforms out there to be able to remind people to show up for the events. 

Bill Walker  28:02    :  Steve, we have a metric that will pound that home. Victor, I asked you to prepare a metric for this group about comparing email invites to Engage by Cell invites, and through our QR response codes, can you share that with the group? 

Victor Oakley  28:23    :  Sure, we've tried to cover all of our bases. And so we've got QR codes as part of our registration. And we've got customizable links that for each of our registration, so we can try to track each source, the click-through in terms of registration and attendance for a Premier Virtual event. So for our last event, well not the last one because we haven't been able to get all the demographics together, but for our event in January and January is a tough month. Everybody knows January, we're out coming back from the holiday blues. But for our event in January, email distribution for a link within email resulted in 56 clicks. And that was supposed to been far and wide to everybody in a safe system for the East Area, which you're talking probably 17,000 - 18,000 people at the time, that got 56 clicks the email did. We sent a different link so that, once again we could track it to those. I mean, Bill did we send it to 2,000 people for the January event?

Bill Walker  29:35    :  Yeah, it was the people on the unemployed list.

Victor Oakley  29:38    :  But the receive list is to about 2,000 different telephone numbers. And we got 679 clicks for registration from the individuals for our January Premier Virtual event.

Steve Edwards  29:55    :  Those are great numbers, and if you see if you'll be able to use those as you can track that information that can be, it can be there for you to be able to get it. One last thing that I just wanted to say is I know they had it on the slide. Technology always changes. So you have to keep up with it. You know, like Dave said, he created this technology, and it kind of grew from there. And we did the same thing. You know, when we built this platform, our legacy platform, is we had just a few clients. And we said, here's what you want to see, because we were out there, we were looking at it. And we built it one way. And now after eight months of development, we just launched our second version of our software. So all of our current clients, and I know that some on this call that are going hear this is, you've either already gotten an email, or you're going to get it today, is where everything starts is, is you're looking at it. So I saw that I think it was 23% of the people on here were wanting to learn about new technologies. When you don't be scared of the technology, you're on this call, right? So you're ready to learn that. So when you take those two things to say, Okay, how can we engage candidates out there, texting and virtual, they're here to stay. And that's what you're going to get. It's going to one, bring your people in to an event that you can go, because especially if you're on the workforce board, I think Victor said it right. There are funding guidelines that are out there. You have to hit certain numbers, you can get those numbers and all of that data is tracked both from your text messaging side, as well as from the virtual career fair side. So now you can get the data that you need, which is the number one thing.

Christa Mallard  31:31    :  Yeah, no, absolutely. And, Victor, Bill, did you all want to add anything else about just your implementation and use case with Premier Virtual before we move on to the panel style discussion?

Bill Walker  31:49    :  Yeah, I just like to say that we've only used Premier Virtual up to date for job fairs and see you'll be interested that we're branching out in job fairs this next month in May, we're going to target our career and tech education secondary school students who are graduating, for a job fair to get a full time job, and for rising seniors and rising juniors to get a summer job. So we're trying to broaden our appeal and drive it down into the high schools as well. But we also say that, as Steve mentioned, the hybrid event, which is very interesting, and he and I have discussed that, we're also going to branch out and offer Premier Virtual for resume writing and interviewing techniques. We believe that some of our clients are having trouble with their interviews, sometimes within a virtual context. And we want to offer them the chance to practice before the Premier Virtual event. We're also going to involve employers only with meeting with our eight American Job Center partners, so that we can bring together the American Job Center service delivery network more closely with our area employers. And finally, we're going to use Premier Virtual to do some career pathways work with student groups, and also have education job fairs, where people who want to know more about how do I get training to return to school, can find that out through a education job fair. So thanks, Christa, for that opportunity.

Christa Mallard  33:29    :  Yeah, absolutely. And I think some really creative new ways to utilize that platform. So that's great stuff. Just in consideration of time, I'd love to go ahead and move on to our panel style discussion. I have several questions prepared. But I would love to hear from the audience as well. We try to keep this engaging and interactive. So like I said, I've got some questions prepared that I'm going to pose to the group. I also have some individual questions. But we'd love to hear from the audience live with your questions. So if you do so, make sure that you are chatting all panelists and attendees, there's also a Q&A, you can chat with through as well. So we'll try to get to those in just a few moments. But I'm going to pose the question to the group and then I'll call you call on you all individually. But just to kick off the questions .As employment declines, do you think the demand for virtual solutions, whether it's mobile, or virtual hiring events will also decline? I know you all kind of have already answered that. But maybe use this as an opportunity to talk a little bit more in depth about opportunities to continue with hybrid style solutions. So Dave, do you want to tackle that? I think we've heard a lot about hybrid from Premier Virtual, so why don't you talk a little bit about mobile before we move on to everybody else.

Dave Asheim  35:05    :  I think when everybody was sitting at their desk, mobile wasn't as important. And when people were coming into Bill's office, it wasn't maybe as important. But it's just not going to return to the former days for a long time. So whatever is the technology out there today that people will adopt? Today, I think it's text messaging. It used to be email in the future for four or five years, it's gonna be WeChat, or WhatsApp, or it could be one of these other apps. I had somebody tell me recently, they view email as just another app on my phone. That kind of cuts to my heart, because I'm an email and text guy. But I think that's just so true. So texting is not going away, everybody, and it's going to be here for four or five years. And if that happens to be the mechanism, like Bill and Victor said, that's gonna make people go, oh, there's something interesting going on, then that just seems to be the the the tool that is the one going to drive you to get the kind of results that you're looking for. 

Bill Walker  36:15    :  Christa, I know that even when we had 3.6 unemployment, right, in the good old days, right, employers, employers in eastern Tennessee, couldn't find employees. So this is not even if we returned to that low number, we're still going to be looking for employees.

Christa Mallard  36:34    :  Absolutely. Yeah. No, that's a great point, Bill. Steve, did you have anything you wanted to add? As far as benefits of continuing hybrid? I know, you kind of touched on that earlier.

Steve Edwards  36:49    :  I mean, I think, well, the one thing with texting is, texting is here. It's not going anywhere. I think texting is is more important than really anything. Because again, it's it's easier to see open rates are a lot higher on texting than email. And if I'm sitting here and say, I have my company phone, an emails tracked, but text messages can be there. So, and how many people are working from home right now. And when you start to look at, again, we look at a lot of different trends and what's going out there, but when I look at what are people pay for gas, and they're stuck. And I don't like to drive. You know, I went from my office being five minutes away miles, I just, we just opened a new office, it's 20 minutes away. And so I'm like, Oh, no, I got 20 minutes. And you know, but there's people that are stuck in on the highways for an hour a day. So when you think you got to get up, you have to get ready, you have to do all these things to get in your car. But now you can go right to work. But that text messaging is going to be there, the virtual is going to be there. Zoom is not going anywhere, right? People talk about Zoom fatigue, but guess what, it's efficient. It's there, right? I can get somebody on a call at anything. Technology changes. And I look at it all the way back to calling cards right? Long time ago, calling cards, everybody had a calling card. The second that the phone said unlimited on their on their cell phones, calling cards are gone. A technology changed something. And I believe that with text messaging, Dave said it, right. People look at it as an app, things are different. 10 years ago, what people thought, is different than now. Right? What my three year old and six year old are doing on their tablets is going to be completely what we're doing now. So you have to embrace the technology that's here to help you get in front of people. It doesn't matter if it's a low unemployment rate. If it's a low unemployment rate, guess what companies are going to be hiring. So they're going to want to get top candidates. If it's a high unemployment rate, guess what, there's still going to be companies that are going to be hiring, and there's going to be a lot more candidates there. So it doesn't matter if it's a low unemployment rate or a high unemployment rate. There's still companies are hiring, there's still people that are going to need jobs, right? Because how many people and this is what I said before, you know, when I was in the in person career fair, I did events in the evenings, right? Because it was how many low unemployment right? But people aren't happy, right? How many people are employed, but aren't happy with that, right? They can be able to log into a virtual event or get a text message to be able to find those other jobs. So when Engage by Cell, when they have that it sends out, hey, here's some jobs that are here. This candidate gets right in front of them, so you have to be able to embrace the technology to continue go forward.

Christa Mallard  39:52    :  Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, it's not going anywhere. So with that being said, I think everybody in this call is probably going to be open to technology. But there may be some other roadblocks just within the organization. Do you have any advice for anyone or any organization that may be apprehensive about adding new technology to their job seeker experience? I know, some of the comments, concerns we have, and I think I saw it on one of the private questions was just cost, you know, securing funding, project management, we don't have an IT or marketing department, what kind of time is involved in this? So, maybe you all speak to those common concerns. And just any advice that you have around that. I'll pose it back to Dave, and then we can kind of go around the table again. 

Dave Asheim  40:53    :  Let's have Bill comment on that. I think his point of view is going to be a little even more interesting.

Bill Walker  41:01    :  I'm going to defer to the wizard behind the curtain, Victor. But I do want to say that one thing that we are really impressed with is the metrics, that after a meeting Steve can provide, and the metrics that after a campaign that you can provide, we can learn from those best practices of how to sharpen our message. But Victor, if you address the question that is on the floor. 

Victor Oakley  41:30    :  So I understand that I love technology that most people don't, and I deal with a lot of career specialists who are probably very old school, they're used to paper and pencil and when we went to computerized fillable forms that some of them struggled with that. But there has been very little struggle with either of these platforms. The dashboards, if you haven't hosted a Premier Virtual event, you don't understand what I mean by the dashboards. But the dashboards are laid out in Premier Virtual and it's intuitive almost to be able to click to sign up an event or click to register an employer or click to register an individual. And it's not complicated. Technology can be very scary. And change is always hard for people. But this is something that's so easy to create an event. When I first did it, I did it really quick out That can't be right, I've made a mistake. And our account exec was like, Well, yeah, you know, you didn't. And then when you look at the Engage by Cell, the dashboard in Engage by Cell, it's so easy. There's a side navigation menu, and you go from reports to outbound texts to look at your failure and everything else. And it's not an issue, even if your technology access is low, or if you're experienced with different methods of technology. They're both so easy to operate, it's not something frightening that you have to worry about with either one of them. And again, we've got some career specialists that are very old school, and they you know, have struggled with a lot of things that they haven't struggled with this one.

Christa Mallard  43:22    :  Yeah, well, that is definitely great to hear, Victor. Dave or Steve, do you have anything that you'd like to add to that?

Steve Edwards  43:32    :  Dave, you want to you want to go first? 

Dave Asheim  43:34    :  Well, the one thing I was thinking about in terms of adoption, we had a client host a webinar with us, this child advocacy group, and they were saying that if they forget to send out text messages, they'll get calls from the people on their list wondering what happened? Why didn't I get my text, and it might be a training tip, or it could be about some event going on. I think people in the situation of looking for work or looking to get trained, they truly do want a job, they really want to get trained, but it's got to be laid to them in the form that they're most comfortable with. And right now is something like a text. So I think you're not going to find that this is cutting edge. To most people that use this same thing that Steve can talk about with virtual events. I think the people that come to the virtual events are having no trouble navigating or they wouldn't have tens of thousands of people coming to these virtual events and being successful.

Steve Edwards  44:38    :  Absolutely. And you know, this kind of touches on, Peter, on your question, the market segment and individuals that are challenges and have tax issues. So this is a perfect segue into that question is when I started developing this software, I'm not the most tech savvy guy out there. Four years ago, I said social media, nothing. I wasn't a tech If you said to me, Steve, you'd be running a tech company, I'd say you're crazy. I'm face to face, I'm a networking type of person. But it was a needed thing. So when I went to my development team, and I said, I need this to be easy, so that it doesn't matter, because my clients are 18 to 80. And when I say our clients, we have our hosts of the events, we have our organizations, and you have your attendees that are attending and not everybody is tech savvy. So I said, I need it to be easy. And just kind of a quick story is one of our clients came to us a few weeks ago, and she said, Steve, I did it, we got it easy. She goes, you know, you guys always talk about it being easy, because I sent it to my 73 year old mom, and I said register for this event. She called me back, she said, I registered and everything is set up. I started to build, but it's also a training with both platforms that you have here. A lot of it starts with our team, right from our team with the dedicated account manager that you have, it helps you to walk through this, so that you're there. And I think, he's been on the phone with Glenn a few times, right, is to be able to hear was we're here to be able to help you for even training. Understand, not everybody's tech savvy, but also you have the areas in rural Tennessee, you know where maybe somebody doesn't have internet, but guess what, they have phones so they can do what? They can get text messages, and they can get online. So those rural areas like rural Wisconsin, they didn't have a lot of people don't have internet, but they have phones. So it opens up with the text messaging, and the being able to log in on your phone, it opens up those people that don't have laptops or don't have internet.

Victor Oakley  47:00    :  And from our perspective, because this is something that we've dealt with consistently and our counties, neither of these two platforms are bandwidth heavy. And by that, anybody deals with that understands that, by that it's that if a person, one of your clients or an individual is on a cell phone plan, and they may not have 5g access, they've only got 4g access, or in some of the counties in Tennessee, they may or may only have 3g, well, both of the platforms are very good at scaling what is being delivered to that cell phone for that particular mobile device or that particular network that the cell phone may be on at the point in time.

Christa Mallard  47:51    :  Wonderful. That's a great point. Victor, thank you so much. And just because we are running out of time, I'm going to go through a few more questions real fast. Let's see, Steve, I'm gonna give you this one. I know that I've seen a lot on the slides about the 2.0 update. Did you want to speak to that, just a few things that we can expect? You may have already covered what you wanted to talk about. But I do want to give you a moment.

Steve Edwards  48:19    :  Like we said, we're always getting better with everything, we now have integrated video resumes where a candidate can make their own video resume, we have built in reminders that are going out to the candidates, enhanced chat rooms, enhanced virtual hiring rooms, enhanced profiles, candidates and companies can now rank each other. So as a host can see that, we have live reporting. So a host like Bill and Victor could log into their event and see here's what's going on. They know everything from how many chats, how many videos are going on, they know everything. So that live reporting, not just the after the events that Victor had said, the dashboard that's there is now you have live reporting. So you're able to see just at a snapshot, here's what's going in, and I know how many people are in each company's hiring room. And I know what's going on. I know how many people got interviewed, scheduled interviews out there. And even they can mark that they got hired out of the event. So you can really track your return on investment. 

Christa Mallard  49:19    :  That's great. And I think those analytics and reports are very, very important. I know Engage by Cell, we offer pretty robust reporting as well. And that leads me perfectly I think you knew this question was next but Bill and Victor, you both are superstars, like I said, as far as tracking the data, because I know you have to have that to be able to quantify you know these results. Victor, can you give everybody on this call just some tips, like in addition to analytics provided in the dashboard, I know that you track everything through Bitly. Are there any other best practices for tracking these results?

Victor Oakley  50:07    :  It's been a combination of everything that the dashboards from Engage by Cell and Premier Virtual offer plus our customized links through Bitly. Google you star for the link shortening and the customization for free, well, that went away. And now there's a paid service, we haven't achieved Bitly, because it integrated into the browsers that we were using. So you can shorten the links on the fly. And for each link that you shorten, you get a customizable URL, a link that an individual can click, and that's trackable. That's an actual click. And we're trying to delve deep into all the data because as you said, we have to be able to justify everything that we do with metrics. So we've got Engage by Cell where we can see whether or not our our text reaches out to somebody. And then we've got the Bitly links that we're positioning for, one link for Engage by Cell one, you know, they're all pointing to our Premier Virtual events. And then we've got links that are utilized for our direct mail campaign or our email campaign. So we're segmenting everything, and we're trying to get a composite picture. The after event, and, Steve, if you tease me one more time with the enhancements that are coming with version 2.0, I'm going to reach out and email our account rep. You said his name earlier, Glenn, before. In fact, I already did. When do I get to see version 2.0. I was supposed to have seen it in March. But we've got the after event reports. And now it sounds like we're going to have in-event reports that we can get access to through Premier Virtual. So we're going to have all of this data coming to us. And we will be able to hopefully realize and effectively make sure that the employers and the individuals are connecting to both of these platforms.

Christa Mallard  52:22    :  Wonderful. And I feel like we are getting close to the hour. So I had so many other questions prepared. And it looks like we've answered the majority of the questions that we've seen come in, I know that there are still a few that we haven't been able to get to. I know Dave and Steve and I, on behalf of Engage by Cell and Premiere Virtual, we would love to continue this discussion with you also. Any questions that you have, feel free to email us directly, we'll share that information with you, and Bill and Victor as well. They are just such a wealth of information. And we appreciate your offer to chat with other workforce professionals as well and share any wisdom that you have. So I you know, we've got that up there on the screen. And we appreciate everyone joining us today. I hate to cut it short. But yeah, if you'd like more information, go ahead and drop your email address in the chat window. It's been a wonderful session. I knew you all were very outgoing, gregarious individuals, hate that we are running short. But we're gonna have to get together and do this again, because I think there's a lot more ground we can cover in another webinar. So thank you all for joining us today. And I believe this concludes our presentation.

Steve Edwards  53:55    :  All right. Thank you, everybody. Have a wonderful day.

Victor Oakley  53:58    :  Thank you all thanks.

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