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Governor Northam announces $1.7 million investment towards workforce program to help Virginians return to work

Suffolk Workforce Development Center to host hiring fair for skilled laborers
Posted at 6:37 PM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 16:33:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that Virginia will invest $1.7 million over the next two years to expand a workforce program aimed at getting Virginians back to work.

Northam announced that Virginia will invest into the innovative Network2Work program, a workforce development initiative established by Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) that connects job seekers with local job networks and support services.

“People across our Commonwealth are facing unprecedented and far-reaching impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and challenging times like these call for innovative solutions,” said Governor Northam. “Network2Work uses a proactive approach to workforce development, leveraging community-based networks to connect job seekers with the skills and resources they need to find employment despite barriers that might include lack of childcare, transportation, or other necessities. With the expansion of this program, we will get more Virginians back to work, help employers secure the talent they need to thrive, and put our economy in a strong position to rebound from this crisis.”

The program works with employers to post jobs with family-sustaining wages through an app-based database. Network2Work then reaches out to community-based connectors, who consist of "well-respected individuals at the center of social networks in their neighborhoods, local organizations, schools, places of worship, and immigrant communities." The connectors then help identify and refer job seekers who are a good match for the available opportunities.

The program’s staff then help the job seeker secure the job by tapping into work skills, life management, or health resources and additional wraparound supports through a network of nonprofit organizations and local human services agencies.

“Our framework is built on a simple premise: a community thrives when its residents thrive,” said Ridge Schuyler, who first developed the Network2Work model and will lead efforts to expand the program in the three pilot areas. “With this exciting expansion, we will be able to help more Virginians realize their full potential by providing them with the connections and support services they need to be successful in the workforce and in their communities.”

As of Tuesday, 85 percent of Network2Work job seekers have found jobs, and 59 percent of those jobs pay more than $25,000 annually. About 40 percent of the program’s participants are single mothers.

Network2Work was first developed through a partnership between the PVCC and the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce to make sure all residents in the region had support to get a job. In 2016, the program was the recipient of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation’s inaugural Strengthening Systems Grant.

To learn more about Network2Work, click here.