There is some encouraging news on the economic front. There are jobs available right here in Richmond, but there's a downside: you may need to change your skills set. As difficult as that may sound, there is a program that will help you become the most attractive candidate. It is called the Workforce Development Pipeline.
In the last year, it's worked with 270 unemployed Richmonders. More than half of them ended up getting hired.
With a city unemployment rate of 8.3 percent, which is higher than the regional and national averages, there is some realistic advice.
"You need to be training for the jobs that are available," explained Jamison Manion.
Like many people, it took Dell Jones a long time to learn that lesson. He has spent his whole life in Richmond's Hillside Court. A traditional job search of online ads and sending out resumes didn't work.
"It was hard on me knowing I was used to having nice things, being able to provide, not being able to do that was very harmful, hurtful at the time," he said.
That feeling may sound familiar. According to the Workforce Development Program, in May, 33,000 people were looking for work. At the same time, there were 37,000 jobs posted. In theory, the unemployment rate shouldn't be so high. Program Administrator Manion says there is a disconnect.
"We always believe we can be anything we want to be, which is true, but we also want to be something that the market values," he maintained.
At job labs around the city, the pipeline provides assessments, training and certification opportunities to close the skills set gap.
"We begin with the end in mind," Manion added. "We begin with the employers and what they're looking to hire. We talk to the individual employers and say ‘what is it you're looking for in a skill set.'"
For example, Dell trained in a skill set matching a job at the Strickland Machine Company. On his very first day, he worked on a project for the U.S. Navy.
"A part that Rondell helped us put together on Monday, we get a thank you on a Wednesday and it's being shipped to Afghanistan for our troops on a Thursday," his boss, Matt McGee, recalled.
Manion says that's proof the program is getting results.
"There's a reason to hope," he exclaimed.
The pipeline is funded through city and RRHA dollars, along with funds from several federal programs.
If you want more information you can call the workforce hotline at 646-6464.
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