Aiming to get Virginians back to work, Gov. Northam announces $1.7M boost for workforce program

Virginia News

A sign looking for workers, July 2020 (Nexstar)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia is set to invest $1.7 million to boost a workforce program aimed at getting residents back to work, including in Hampton Roads.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office announced Tuesday that the state will make the investment over the next two years to expand the Network2Network program.

The program is a workforce development initiative started by Piedmont Virginia Community College that connects job seekers with possible jobs and other support services, according to a governor’s office news release.

The state will partner with the Virginia Community College System to “scale up” the program in Hampton Roads, the Shenandoah Valley and Greater Richmond areas.

The program works to connect job seekers with services local to them so they can overcome employment barriers like lack of childcare or transportation.

“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,” Northam said in the news release.

Northam said he hopes boosting the program will help the state rebound from the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s how it works: Employers post jobs that pay “family-sustaining wages” to an app-based database. Then, Network2Network reaches out to community “connectors,” such as churches, local organizations, immigrant communities and more. The connectors find job seekers and connect them with the opportunities that are good matches.

After the job seeker is connected with opportunities, program staff help them 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.”

As of Tuesday’s news release, Network2Network has connected 85 percent of its job seekers with employment. Nearly 60 percent of those jobs pay more than $25,000 a year. About 40 percent of those involved in the program are single mothers.

“The new Network2Work pilot program will help ensure that every Virginian is able to access high-quality employment as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” said Chief Workforce Development Advisor Megan Healy. “By tapping into local networks of employers, service providers, and community-based connectors, the program will demonstrate its ability to meet job seekers where they are.”

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