Star City Works
In last week’s post, I indicated that over the next few posts I would offer additional details about some of the highlights of the Star City Strong Recovery and Resiliency Fund - funds the City received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). With the first post, I focused on food insecurity and the funding provided to LEAP. This week I will be providing some details about the Star City Works initiative, a collaboration with the Western Virginia Workforce Development Board.
Clarifying Workforce Needs
The Star City Works Initiative will include discussions with local employers and data collection about current workforce needs in select high-demand high-wage industries such as bio-medicine and life sciences and construction. This will include information about occupations in demand, skills required for those occupations and challenges with securing talent. These needs and challenges will be partnered with responses from education and training providers where customized training programs will be developed.
Connecting Workers with Needs
The Initiative will include workshops, events and large-scale hiring fairs where unemployed and underemployed residents, especially from our struggling neighborhoods, will be connected to both training and employment opportunities – the goal being to secure the necessary training and credentials as quickly as practical to move into the better employment opportunities. Concurrent with these efforts, a series of career exploration events will be conducted, introducing area youth and their parents to similar training and employment opportunities. Additionally, efforts will be undertaken to raise awareness throughout the community of these types of training and employment opportunities through a series of videos, open houses, tours, etc.
Supporting the Businesses and New Employees
The Initiative acknowledges the barriers that may exist for businesses undertaking such programs as well as for employees interested in these new opportunities. Therefore, the initiative includes a limited amount of funding for businesses to support on the job training for new hires as well as deferring some of the costs for training. For those attending training, “wraparound” services will be provided including stipends during training, assistance with tuition and fees, offsetting the cost of transportation, childcare and other needs while engaging in training and during the first few months on the new job. Further, each participant in the training will be directly engaged with the City’s Financial Empowerment Center, receiving professional no-cost financial counseling to aid them in wise stewardship of the financial benefits of their new employment.
Aligned with the transformational objectives of the Star City Strong Recovery and Resiliency Fund, this $3 million investment is intended to support local businesses with a much-needed increase in workforce and talent and to help move local residents into occupations that offer higher wages and greater economic mobility. That is a win-win for the Star City!
- Bob Cowell