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The Virginia Common Access Portal: Connecting Service Providers to Increase Economic Opportunity

by Katherine Hansen

The Virginia Careerworks Referral Portal is reimagining how Virginians can be better served through the alignment and coordination of service providers.

According to Felix Schapiro, Workforce Policy Analyst in the Office of Governor Northam, “Access to the right information at the right time is key to increasing economic opportunity for every Virginian.” The Virginia Career Works Referral Portal, a new Virginia initiative, aims to do just that.

The portal is a groundbreaking statewide tool that refers Virginians to services that assist them in advancing their career paths and financial independence through training, certification, education, and employment services. From the safety and convenience of their homes, individuals seeking service can create an account, answer common intake questions, choose referral recommendations, and create their own journey towards a brighter future.

Because state and local health orders have forced workforce program closures, virtual tools to ensure Virginians get the critical services they need are more important than ever. For this reason, the portal development team quickly responded and moved forward the portal’s release timeline in order to launch it statewide on May 11, 2020. This valuable tool will aid in addressing the increased demand for services as Virginia begins our economic recovery process.

Currently supported by six state agencies (with more to be added), the portal is a “no wrong door” approach to service referrals among workforce development agencies. This way, service seekers do not have to submit redundant information when accessing services, which will make their experience more user-friendly. With improved communication among providers, they will now be able to coordinate services in a holistic approach. This means that Virginians can learn much sooner and with less effort on their part about more available services for which they qualify. Moreover, the portal is designed to be centered on the individual. This means that service-seekers are given the power to make personal decisions about their education and work choices by using the tool to access the data of their choosing and create their desired pathway forward.

The portal will also benefit the partnering agencies by reducing duplicative paperwork, thus increasing their service efficiency, fostering transparency, and generating improved data for ongoing program improvements. Especially when considering the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an even greater need for workforce programs to quickly and easily connect individuals with critical unemployment, educational, and social state services.

As one of the six partnering agencies, the Virginia Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education is leading implementation efforts of the portal for adult education service providers. Through the summer 2020 months, a statewide process for receiving adult education requests for services from the portal has been established. Referrals have already started coming in to designated staff at the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center (VALRC) who then dispatch them to the proper adult education regional program representative(s) for action.

How does the Virginia Career Works Referral Portal work?

When an individual seeking service creates an online account, the portal asks them a number of questions that mimics the experience of coming into a workforce center. These questions capture the individual’s information in order to personalize service recommendations. As individuals provide more data, portal recommendations grow more accurate.

Once the individual completes their user profile setup, the portal recommends optional referrals and service possibilities, which the individual can review and add to their “My Journey” page. The individual is informed that each agency from whom they have requested service will contact them according to their chosen contact method preference. In most cases, the step-by-step guidance within the referrals tells the individual what paperwork they need to have available when meeting with an agency professional.

Looking Ahead

The Virginia Career Works Referral Portal is reimagining how Virginians can be better served through the alignment and coordination of service providers. The portal launch is only the first step. Further integration and development efforts will continue to improve technical functionality, streamline processes, and incorporate additional partner agencies. Learn more and help spread the word about how the portal can solve real challenges for Virginians accessing services as well as support and sustain interagency coordination.

Get started by helping your learners create at an account and begin their journey. Give them the opportunity to initiate referrals to service providers and get the support they need in order to thrive.

Press Release

Read the press release about The Virginia Career Works Referral Portal from Governor Ralph Northam.

Katherine Hansen

Katherine Hansen, M.Ed., serves as the Communications & Community Support Specialist for the VALRC. She is a certified TESOL instructor and Project Management Professional (PMP). Katherine’s career experience bridges the academic, nonprofit, and corporate worlds in global intercultural communications, teaching/training, and program/ organization development.


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