Virginia nonprofit helping people get back into the workforce

Virginia nonprofit helping people get back into the workforce
(FILE) Job board (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - An organization’s partnership with community colleges across the commonwealth, including Piedmont Virginia Community College, is trying to help people get back into the workforce after the coronavirus left many jobless.

“I’ve been unemployed this year,” Grayson Hopkins, a father of two, said.

Hopkins says he worked in digital forensics before the pandemic, but then he was laid off around Christmas time.

“After not being able to find a job, I did apply for unemployment which was embarrassing, but you know you need money,” Hopkins said

Hopkins started sending resumes out in February, but then COVID-19 hit. After months of trying to find work, he decided to go back to school with the help of a new organization, Virginia Ready.

“For me, this opportunity with the Virginia Ready program is my life. Going to school at 46-years-old, two days a week, three hours a day, trying to get these certifications and get the job experience to make myself marketable,” Hopkins said.

The nonprofit’s mission is to get people in Virginia back to work through accelerated credential programs.

“At Piedmont Community College, we have several who are enrolled there and we have some more enrolled in the computer and technology program,” CEO Caren Merrick said.

So far, Merrick says the program has 400 people enrolled with courses focusing on healthcare, technology, and cyber security.

“Over 40 have completed and nearly everyone of those have already gotten a job, and with one of our business partners so it’s a program that’s working,” Merrick said.

With 23 business partners across the state, Virginia Ready’s mission is to get people back on their feet as soon as possible.

“This is an opportunity to explore new skills that represent resilient in-demand jobs,” Merrick said.

For Hopkins, he encourages anyone in his position to try out the program.

“The biggest thing is being able to swallow your pride a little bit and tell Virginia that you need help,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins has one week left of his classes and says he’s hoping to land an internship and then a full-time job to restart his career.

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