Va. to expand networking program to new regions
Network2Work coming to Shenandoah, Hampton Roads, Richmond
During the next two years Virginia will invest $1.7 million to expand the Network2Work workforce development initiative, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday.
The commonwealth will partner with the Virginia Community College System to pilot the Network2Work model in the Shenandoah Valley, Hampton Roads and greater Richmond regions. Network2Work was established by Piedmont Virginia Community College in 2017 to connect job seekers with local job networks and support services.
“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 a statement. “Network2Work uses a proactive approach to workforce development, leveraging community-based networks to connect job seekers with the skills and resources they need to find employment despite barriers that might include lack of child care, transportation or other necessities. With the expansion of this program, we will get more Virginians back to work, help employers secure the talent they need to thrive, and put our economy in a strong position to rebound from this crisis.”
The program works with employers to post jobs through an app-based database and works with “connectors,” well-respected individuals at the center of social networks in the local areas, to help identify and refer job seekers who are a good match for available positions. Program staff then help job seekers chart pathways to securing a job through work skill, life management and health resources.
“Our framework is built on a simple premise: a community thrives when its residents thrive,” Ridge Schuyler, who first developed the Network2Work model and will lead efforts to expand the program, said in a statement. “With this exciting expansion, we will be able to help more Virginians realize their full potential by providing them with the connections and support services they need to be successful in the workforce and in their communities.”
The more than 70,000 families that live within the three pilot sites will be the focus of the program’s expansion, including families whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
“I have been proud to witness the program’s growing impact, which served 19 job seekers in its first year and has now reached more than 900 [since 2017],” PVCC President Frank Friedman said in a statement. “Our employer network has grown from four to over 90 employers, offering a total of over $9 million in income to our program participants. We look forward to building on this strong foundation and sharing what we have learned with others to help improve the well-being of families across the commonwealth.”