WorkAdvance Wins Excellence In Workforce Development Innovation Award
November 01, 2012
Towards Employment’s WorkAdvance program, a sector-based workforce development program that is training workers for careers in healthcare and manufacturing, won the Excellence in Workforce Development Innovation Award from the Ohio Economic Development Association (OEDA).
The OEDA award recognizes unique approaches to workforce development and recognizes a person or organization that has developed innovative practices and programs. WorkAdvance was honored at the OEDA's annual summit on October 25 in Columbus, Ohio.
WorkAdvance partners with employers to identify hiring and training needs and tailor training programs and other services to best meet their needs. The successes from WorkAdvance will be positioned to influence public policy in Ohio and nationally, to help drive the workforce system towards a more effective delivery of services. With support from the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF), WorkAdvance is a model being replicated at four sites across the country to train, place and help boost earnings of low-wage and unemployed adults in the growing fields of healthcare and manufacturing with room for career advancement. Towards Employment is the lead agency to implement WorkAdvance in Northeast Ohio and is working with Compass Family & Community Services to deliver the program in Youngstown, with significant regional investments from the Fund For Our Economic Future.
Since the program’s inception in 2010, WorkAdvance has enrolled nearly 145 Northeast Ohioans in technical skills training such as machining, welding, medical office foundations, and State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) PLUS. More than 90 participants are working with an average starting wage of nearly $10 an hour. “WorkAdvance offers a continuum of services that are uniquely packaged and responsive to the skills training needs of local employers,” said Rebecca Kusner, director, WorkAdvance, in a news release. “By customizing our services we are able to best respond to both participant and employer demand.”
WorkAdvance is one of five promising anti-poverty programs being replicated in New York City and seven partner cities, as part of the SIF grant awarded to The Mayor’s Center for Economic Opportunity and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. Announced by the White House in 2010, the SIF is a public-private partnership administered by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service that is designed to scale-up effective programs.
WorkAdvance builds on evidence from successful workforce programs piloted in New York and other cities. This rigorously evaluated program will contribute to a developing body of evidence for systems change so that lessons learned can benefit more people and industries. The bottom line is that WorkAdvance is testing a formula for building talent pipelines for employers—demonstrating that low-income job seekers can be a good source of labor with the proper investments and training, as well as looking at how to change the way we leverage existing services and funding to better support job seekers and employers.
To learn more about WorkAdvance, visit waneo.org or www.towardsemployment.org.