Workforce Organization Expands to Arizona, Launches Connect to Work AZ

Skills for America’s Future joined with the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation to announce the launch of “Connect to Work AZ, powered by Skills for America’s Future” as part of its national expansion campaign. Over the next 10 years, Skills seeks to open 25 sites to bring a proven method for addressing persistent unemployment into disinvested communities and communities of color.

The new program was announced during a press event at the Greater Phoenix Chamber on May 3. Connect to Work AZ will bring the Skills model for addressing underemployment and unemployment to help more Arizonans obtain jobs and build their careers through the program’s employer partners, as well as place into jobs people who are working less than 32 hours a week or outside of their field of training. The initiative will be additive to the Chamber’s current programming with Connect to Work AZ especially focused on connecting diverse talent to local employers to help employers fill hiring needs as well as better reflect the communities they serve.

“The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation recognized a need in Arizona for the Skills model. The past few months have been exciting as we’ve worked together to activate Connect to Work AZ powered by Skills for America’s Future, and today their journey of placing people into jobs begins,” said Daniel Cervantes, SVP of National Expansion and Strategic Initiatives at Skills for America’s Future.

Todd Sanders, president & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber, discussed why the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation is investing in this program, “Valley businesses are looking to improve their bottom line as they continue to expand in Arizona. Connect to Work AZ will positively impact our community by eliminating barriers and placing Arizonans in quality, high-demand jobs with opportunities for advancement. This initiative is the first of its kind in Arizona and we’re very excited to be involved.”

Based in Chicago with affiliate sites in Chicago and Rhode Island, Skills for America’s Future is in the midst of an aggressive national expansion campaign to bring its successful approach to addressing unemployment into communities where unemployment rates continue to remain high despite low unemployment rates nationally. Through its expansion campaign, Skills is working to place over 500,000 individuals into jobs with 25% of Fortune 500 companies, as well as other national and local employers, over the next decade.

Already, Skills has placed over 19,000 formerly unemployed and underemployed job seekers through its Chicago and Rhode Island sites by connecting unemployed individuals with companies in need of workers, leveraging its robust network of local and national hiring partners.

As part of its expansion, Skills is currently seeking additional partners through a RFP for partnerships with organizations that seek to add to or accelerate their workforce efforts through Skills’ national employer network, existing playbook and toolkit, and access to affiliate network and learnings. Skills’ jobs-first model is intended to be additive, not duplicative to existing workforce solutions. To learn more about the RFP, visit the Skills for America’s Future website.

The Skills Model

Skills’ success has been rooted in its unique approach to addressing unemployment by taking a holistic and consultative approach with employers. Skills’ “jobs-first” approach starts by going directly to employers to understand their hiring needs, company culture and long-term goals. Skills then connects those employers to unemployed individuals who Skills has helped coach, prepare and advocate for to find employment.

This approach increases economic mobility for thousands of under- and unemployed individuals; aligns employers’ hiring needs with diverse, job-ready talent; provides data, expertise, and resources to implement a proven approach to workforce development; and provides access to a network of national employers already working with Skills, including some of the country’s top corporations. The Skills approach is unique because of its deep network of employers while serving as a recruiter, connection, coach, and advocate for job seekers.

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