We may be living in a social media-driven marketplace, but personal interaction and customer experience are still critical to the success of any business, large or small. Yet customer service skills are often lacking in today’s workforce, according to Amy Allen, director of the WCA’s Hudson Valley Workforce Academy, created to address the acute gap in workforce skills and help fill 2,500+ jobs in the region. On June 24, the Academy awarded certificates to its latest crop of graduates, who completed the program’s second course, “Managing the Customer Experience.”
The course focused on building customer loyalty, the customer experience, and leadership to develop an engaged, service-oriented workforce, according to Ms. Allen. “Our goal was to equip participants with both the technical and soft skills needed to succeed in any industry,” she said. Allen noted that the course featured instruction from some of the best in the industry, including experts from WESTMED Medical Group, Learning and Performance Solutions/Westchester Community College, and The Hospitality Resource Group.
According to Lindsay Farrell, president and CEO of Open Door Family Medical Centers, which enrolled nine participants in the Academy course: “Customer service is a valuable skill but it’s not necessarily taught, which presents an ongoing challenge for us. As healthcare providers, we focus on delivering healthcare in the clinical setting, but in the mind of the patient—our customer—excellent service is viewed as a quality indicator.” She noted that those who attended the course found it relevant, interesting, engaging, and most importantly, applicable to their work life. “As a nonprofit organization, we have limited resources to devote to professional development,” Ms. Farrell added. “The Hudson Valley Workforce Academy is a quality option at a reasonable price.”
Ms. Allen announced that plans are underway to offer the WCA’s Hudson Valley Workforce Academy pilot course in Healthcare Analytics again in response to high demand, and to create a third course in the Academy curricula. Allen explained they are creating new courses in response to employer needs.
Launched in January 2015 by the WCA to address the critical need for skilled workers and help fill the 2,500+ critical job vacancies in the healthcare, technology, and business sectors in the region, the Academy is the result of the WCA’s close collaboration with the healthcare sector, business community, and 16 higher education organizations. Academy curricula are developed in collaboration with the region’s employers and focus on training the existing workforce in high-demand skills. The WCA also partners with Mercy College’s Strategic Consulting Institute to identify additional training needs and future courses.
Participating employers report that they where thrilled about the opportunity and access to the specialized training, and they found the course a valuable investment for their employees, and their organizations.
“Employers asked that the Academy offer courses in critical thinking, empathy training, communication, and management, Big Data, and customer service, among other areas. The bottom line is that Westchester wants to attract and retain talent, upgrade the skills of the currently employed, and foster job creation for the unemployed and underemployed,” Allen said.
Talent development is an essential part of the WCA’s BLUEPRINT for Westchester, its aggressive economic development initiative. The Westchester County Association is widely credited with accelerating economic development in Westchester in recent years through the BLUEPRINT, which among other things fosters strong collaborations with the healthcare, higher education, technology, real estate, municipal governments, and general business communities.
For further information about the program, please contact Amy Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-948-6444.