On July 9, 2014, Towards Employment was awarded the 2014 Team NEO Plus Award for Economic Development for its leadership of WorkAdvance, a regional workforce collaboration. Towards Employment was one of three finalists in the category, alongside University Hospitals and the collaboration of North Central State College, Richland Community Development Corporation and the Ohio State University at Mansfield. WorkAdvance was nominated by The Center for Economic Opportunity, New York City.
WorkAdvance was launched in 2011 to incorporate existing knowledge about best practices in workforce development and continue to build a body of evidence in support of promising, cost‐effective interventions for assisting low‐income individuals to enhance their skills, gain employment, and advance along career pathways leading to higher wages. WorkAdvance addresses the skills gap and meets business needs by providing low‐skill, under- and unemployed individuals with the training and supports they need to advance in two of Northeast Ohio’s key sectors—manufacturing and healthcare. In the first three years of the project, 227 WorkAdvance participants have completed technical skills training and 271 participants have secured employment with an average starting wage of $10.50/hour. The program boasts an 85% 90-day job retention rate and 39% of participants have already seen wage increases averaging over $2/hour
“This award is important to us as we continue to bring social supports, workforce education and training, and industry knowledge together to bridge the gap between under-and unemployed workers and business,” said Jill Rizika, Executive Director of Towards Employment. “This model is demonstrating that sector strategies leading to career pathways can improve outcomes for businesses and individuals.”
WorkAdvance collaborative partners include: The Center for Health Affairs, WIRE-Net, MAGNET, Ohio Means Jobs, The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland, Center for Families and Children’s ease@work Program and multiple education and training providers across the region. Compass Family and Community Services implements the program in Youngstown with support from Ohio Means Jobs. More information about the project is available at www.waneo.org.
Towards Employment is a sub‐grantee of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a federal initiative from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) designed to identify and expand effective solutions to critical social challenges. Significant regional support is provided by the Fund for our Economic Future. The WorkAdvance model is also being replicated in two sites in New York City and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
About Towards Employment: Since 1976, Towards Employment, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment, has served more than 120,000 low-income and disadvantaged adults in Greater Cleveland—to help them prepare for jobs, get jobs, keep jobs and advance into careers. Through holistic programming and strong employer partnerships, TE builds individual skills and confidence, removes barriers to employment and helps individuals meet employers’ workforce needs. www.towardsemployment.org