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New Professional Development Standard for Career Coaches

Tuesday, 28 June, 2022 Written by Bryan Wortmann

When the Ohio To Work initiative launched in the fall of 2020, JobsOhio was looking for ways to enhance the existing workforce development ecosystem and better connect workforce development coaches, training organizations and employers. To achieve this goal, they held biweekly meetings to learn what Ohio Means Jobs|Cleveland-Cuyahoga County (OMJ), Urban League of Greater Cleveland (UL) and Goodwill Industries (GI) and their career coaches really needed. Out of these meetings, a need for deeper coaching in professional development was identified – and from that came CoachU.

CoachU seeks to develop career coaching skills of client-facing service providers in the Northeast Ohio workforce development ecosystem, so coaches can better guide their clients into employment that matches skills and interests. While the idea of upskilling career coaches was the brainchild of Debbi Perkul, MAGNET’s Executive Director of Workforce Partnerships, seven different organizations took part in the design and development of CoachU, including OMJ, UL, GI, Towards Employment, College Now Greater Cleveland, The Centers for Families and Children/El Barrio and Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

Together, these groups collaborated to identify the competencies and curriculum that could improve career coaching in the region. This curriculum evolved into 62 hours of training, which is now open to coaches from all of these organizations, as well as several new additions like Ohio Guidestone.

While a pilot group tested the curriculum last fall, the first official group of 19 career coaches completed the official CoachU training in May of this year. Each coach brought different levels of experience and prior training with them, but the curriculum covered:

  • Building rapport with clients
  • Motivational interviewing (asking clients questions to build their own motivation and make positive changes in their own lives)
  • Making the right employment match

One coach commented that he could “use motivational interviewing tomorrow” and still another said, “stepping back and practicing these skills helps me remember why I do this work.”

Although the cohort adapted when Covid-19 interrupted scheduled sessions, the graduating coaches agreed that their time spent together was valuable. Together, they built a community of practice amongst themselves, which will be ongoing as they join the Coach Fellows group, another Ohio To Work initiative.

One of Perkul’s reasons for building CoachU was to inject the workforce development system with foundational career coaching knowledge and skills that put more clients into better fitting jobs. According to one coach from Goodwill Industries, this is already happening. During graduation, Ashley Ristaino described that using the confidence and skills she’d developed in CoachU, she helped a client go from being “sure he was going to end up unhappy at another retail [job]” to feeling “so excited about the new passion-driven work opportunities he has available to him.”

As more coaches experience this program, more talent throughout Northeast Ohio will benefit. Likewise, all of our in-demand industries locally will benefit from a stronger workforce development ecosystem. The team at MAGNET is excited to facilitate this cross-sector effort, boosting the quality of candidates employers see, helping more residents get into good careers and building the passion in career coaches. 

This type of work is at the center of Sector Partnership.


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