Forum Admin
Shawn Avery in his role as president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Workforce Council has provided leadership for strategic initiatives, partner and community relations, business and industry development, industry sector activities, educational initiatives, and management and oversight for the largest Workforce Development Board in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Come join him as he talks about hot jobs opportunities and the recovery period.

Shawn will be on hand tomorrow, Friday, May 28 at 1 PM to provide answers, so check back in to hear his thoughts. 
Quote 2 0
Douglas L. Smith Doug Smith
Shawn - thrilled you will been the Forum today. I look forward to watching the thread of equations and answers
Quote 2 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
Thank you Shawn for being with us this afternoon. We are excited to have you on our Forum. Today’s discussion on jobs and recovery is very timely with so many employers and individuals looking to get back to work. Welcome!
Quote 1 0
Shawn Avery
Thank you for having me on the forum, Jonathan!  Look forward to the discussion today.
Quote 0 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
The state of the workforce is a huge topic as we move through the reopening phases.
In light of so many employers pivoting to teleworking options, how do you envision remote working will impact the workforce of a post COVID world in the short and long run?
Quote 1 0
Shawn Avery
I think we are looking at a transition of the work environment as a result of COVID.   Many employers are seeing that their employees can be just as productive at home as they have been in the office setting.  What this is bringing about is a change in the functions that can be done at a remote setting and at a different pace.   I envision this maybe the new norm for positions where it makes sense.
Quote 3 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
This is very interesting. What about teleworking would make employers gravitate towards it on a more permanent basis?
Quote 0 0
JR Hipple
What industries or employment sectors do you see as possibly hiring and helping to lead our recovery?
Quote 1 0
Shawn Avery
Increase in productivity of the workforce and the potential decrease in office costs.  Employees who can work remotely, and may have had to factor in travel time for meetings now have more time to work on other functions.   Employers also have the opportunity to reexamine office space requirements, reducing the cost of maintaining their current space.
Quote 1 0
Shawn Avery
What industries or employment sectors do you see as possibly hiring and helping to lead our recovery?


Good afternoon Mr. Hipple.  As referenced in this week's blog post, employers in a number of sectors are still hiring.  In the past 30 days employers have posted job vacancies for high wage occupations within the in-demand industries sectors listed below more than any other.  Distribution and Logistics, Healthcare, Information Technology, Maritime and Food Processing.   Here is a link to the blog post:  https://www.757recovery.com/blog/top-5-occupations-that-are-hiring-right-now

Quote 2 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
Thank Mr. Hipple for your question. Shawn, this would be a good point to discuss furloughed workers and the move into recovery.
Many employers without CARES Act loans who were struggling found relief in furloughs through this period, especially in that unemployment payments reached record highs. How can employers best transition these workers back into their former roles?
Quote 0 0
Shawn Avery
After COVID-19 abates, employers may determine that they cannot return all employees to the workforce.   Some employers may need to recall employees on a slower timeline depending on demand, social distancing imperatives, and the timeline for production.  Others may want to recall everyone but may need to evaluate the terms of employment. In any case, it is recommended that employers provide all returning employees a recall letter at least a week or more in advance of their return to work with a date by which the employee must respond to the employer regarding their intention to return to work.   In addition, employers should add in time to account for training of employees on any new procedures that may result from COVID.
Quote 0 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
Considering the phased reopening, how will HRWC help the market respond to Returning Workers who found alternative employment during furloughs? Will their transition back to former positions cause disruption because of any lingering demand in their current positions?
Quote 0 0
Shawn Avery
The Hampton Roads Workforce Council has a number of programs to support employer efforts to backfill positions as furloughed workers transition back and assist with looking for employees.  Our Business Services team is available to work with them to provide a menu of services, to include recruitment, on-the-job training, upskilling training and others.   Very customizable. Temp agencies can also be a good resource to help employers manage demand fluctuations.   I would highly recommend employers who are starting to reopen and may need assistance to fill positions to reach out to Steve Cook, our Business Services lead at scook@vcwhamptonroads.org
Quote 2 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
Excellent information. The region definitely has a great resource in the HRWC. There are also many individuals impacted by furloughs and layoffs due to COVID-19 that may not have the skill sets to transition to new occupational fields. How are you working specifically with training providers to develop programs to help these individuals learn new skills?
Quote 0 0
Shawn Avery
It really is a matter of working with the training providers and the employers to determine the skills that are in demand.  Before COVID, it was an employee market.  Now, employers have the ability to look for the best candidates with the skill sets that they need.  While almost all training programs have shifted to virtual delivery, we are working closely together to explore ways to offer the hands-on skills that are needed.   Recruiting individuals who have been furloughed or that may be concerned that another wave of COVID may hit, are looking at transitioning to new industries that are deemed essential or did not close in the first wave.  Providing certainty in uncertain times. 
Quote 0 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
What skill sets are we seeing in demand from those that are hiring right now?
Quote 0 0
Shawn Avery
What skill sets are we seeing in demand from those that are hiring right now?


Great question!   Within those industries hiring right now, we are seeing the skilled trades at the top of the list when it comes to the maritime industry.  In healthcare we are still seeing skills related to the nursing fields being high on the list.  Across all the industries hiring, we are still seeing the soft skills, such as communication, showing up to work on time, listening skills, being a must.  Project Management is also a universal skill that is running across a number of these industries.
Quote 1 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
Excellent. We have discussed from the employee’s perspective of how they can prepare to return to work, but from the employer’s perspective, what should employers be aware of concerning returning workforce in a COVID-19 environment?
Quote 0 0
Shawn Avery

Employers should be aware that Returning Workers can potentially become immediately eligible for paid leave of absences under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.   Your human resource or hiring staff should seek guidance on this Act and pay attention to any new legislation that may come out.   Many organizations, such as SHRM, have resources to support your human resource functions in the COVID environment.

Quote 0 0
Amy Jordan ajordan
Shawn, Are you working with local companies on virtual job fairs?  What other new tools are you putting in place to connect employees with employers?
Quote 0 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
What are some important things employers should consider in returning furloughed workers to in the face of changing demand after reopening?
Quote 0 0
Shawn Avery
Shawn, Are you working with local companies on virtual job fairs?  What other new tools are you putting in place to connect employees with employers?


Thanks for the question Amy!   We are working with a number of local employers right now setting up virtual job fairs.  We held our first one two weeks ago and have plans to being hosting job fairs a couple times a week starting in June.  If there are employers who are interested, the should reach out to us and we will handle all the logistics.  In addition, we are working with the Virginia Employment Commission right now to begin handling the job matching functions and employer services for them beginning in mid-June. 
Quote 2 0
Shawn Avery
What are some important things employers should consider in returning furloughed workers to in the face of changing demand after reopening?


When evaluating a ramp up of their workforce, employers should consider any current obligations under their existing agreements and policies, inclusive of any collective bargaining agreements.   Also potentially significant will be the provisions of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, and similar state and local laws, with regard to when and under what circumstances temporary furloughs become employment losses that can trigger advance notice and/or severance pay obligations.
Quote 0 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman
Shawn, we are almost at our time for today. To wrap up, can you tell us how can businesses who are looking to hire those impacted by COVID get connected with those individuals?
Quote 0 0
Shawn Avery
I would suggest they reach out to the Hampton Roads Workforce Council and we can assist with their recruitment needs.   Call 757-314-2370 or email scook@vcwhamptonroads.org
Quote 1 0
Jonathan Holman JZHolman

It was good to have you with us on the COVID-19 Business Recovery Forum 757. Thank you for your time today.

Quote 0 0
Shawn Avery
Thank you for having me today!!
Quote 1 0
Susan Long-Molnar SusanLongMolnar
Shawn or Doug...I am on the Cox Business Executive Discussion so jumped on this. Is there a place that the results of the conversation are located? 
Quote 0 0