New Workforce Programs That Work

Workforce development is a major theme here on the forum. Here are few new programs that are working. Let’s take note of them here in Ashtabula County.

A workforce development program in Nevada has achieved a placement rate of 80 percent (The Atlantic).Platform to Employment provides intensive, five-week job-readiness classes for small groups of people who have been unemployed long-term and pays their first two months’ salary at any company willing to try them out. Policymakers hope the project, though currently small (it has graduated just 50 people) and expensive ($6,000 per person), can be expanded.

New Jersey has offered aggressive incentives for businesses to locate in Camden, where unemployment sits at 11.7 percent; whether those jobs go to the people who need them most remains to be seen.New Jersey is providing $500,000 for workforce development programs to Camden County College and to pre-apprenticeship programs aimed at training women and minorities in the building trades (Next City).

Programs for low-skill, low-wage workers face key challenges. The training process is time-consuming for people who need immediate income. Additionally, many programs are not keeping pace with the widening gap between people’s skills and employer’s needs.

One place that demonstrates this disparity clearly is East Palo Alto, Calif., an impoverished Silicon Valley neighborhood where one-third of residents do not have a high school diploma and many lack home internet access or a personal computer. The nonprofit Samaschool is providing technology-focused workforce development programs by coaching participants on writing resumes and cover letters, and providing tutorials on how to use websites geared at freelancers, such as Elance and oDesk.

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