VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The holiday stress may be over, but for many still out of work because of the COVID-19 crisis, the anxiety lingers. A new program, however, is offering renewed hope for some job seekers.
Latonya English, the senior director of operations with Hampton Roads Workforce Council, said the initiative is a collaborative effort known as the Virginia Beach Pandemic Relief Partnership.
“People still have a hunger to want to go to work and this is our way of saying let’s fill that skill gap,” English said. “Let’s help our residents get back to work.”
The program includes a partnership between the Hampton Roads Workforce Council and several other organizations, including United Way of South Hampton Roads and the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore.
The Virginia Beach Pandemic Relief Partnership is funded through a grant, and its goal is to help folks who live in Virginia Beach overcome the challenges of 2020.
The Workforce Council is supporting workforce development. The organization is assisting displaced workers impacted by COVID-19 find new skills and job opportunities.
“The jobs are there but having the skilled people to fill those positions, that’s where we come in with the education and the job training to make sure we are filling that need of providing skilled workers for these employers,” said English.
The need is critical. The recently launched program focuses on high-demand industries, including skilled trades and manufacturing jobs, such as ship building.
Other short-term training opportunities are in healthcare, hospitality, IT, and transportation and logistics. The Workforce Council also provides opportunities for on-the-job training, incumbent worker training, apprenticeships and cohort training.
The initiative comes as unemployment rates are hitting record highs. The number of claims last week rose to its highest levels since early August with 19,530 Virginians filing for unemployment.
The VEC attributed the increase to a possible seasonal spike in holiday layoffs.
“That’s why we look at in-demand jobs that our job seekers can focus on that would still keep them employed,” English said. “Programs like this make that possible.”
For more information on how to enroll in the Virginia Beach Pandemic Relief Partnership program, visit VBrelief.org.