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Wichita awarded grant to improve digital access and digital skills
to help workers advance in good jobs
WICHITA, KS ( January 14, 2021) - The National Fund for Workforce Solutions announced awarding a $130,000 grant to Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas to equip workers with the digital access, literacy, and skills they need to secure and grow in economy-boosting jobs in a rapidly changing labor market. The Workforce Alliance is one of five communities awarded the digital literacy grant, and chosen from the National Fund Network of more than 35 collaboratives, to participate in this innovative program. Other grants were awarded to collaborative in Baltimore, Dallas, Louisville, and Syracuse.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many employers to shift their work online. Workers with digital literacy, skills, and access are at a significant advantage to maintain employment in this environment.
“The pandemic brought into stark reality how deep the digital divide is in this country,” said Janell Thomas, director of worker success at the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “So many jobs are going virtual, leaving a lot of workers behind – especially workers of color. So it’s essential that workers and job-seekers are not only developing their skills but that they have access to digital technologies and reliable internet service.”
Each grantee will design plans to provide in-demand digital skills and help community residents get back to work in good quality jobs. The Workforce Alliance will partner with NexStep (a partnership of Goodwill of Kansas & WSU Tech) to facilitate the training program, teaching digital skills that yield marketable digital certifications necessary to attain quality jobs. To ensure underrepresented populations and those impacted by COVID-19 have access to these training opportunities, the United Way of the Plains and FlagshipKansas.Tech will collaborate in the project.
“The funding will allow the Workforce Alliance to strengthen our partnership with NexStep in delivering expanded services to assist individuals in need of digital skills as they shift to online work,” said Gabe Schlickau, Board Chair of the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas.
“Access to digital skills training is critical for individuals with limited access and resources, who are ready and willing to contribute to the workforce. Through this partnership, NexStep and the Workforce Alliance have combined their strengths to ensure that all job seekers have a clear path to training and employment opportunities,” said Rob Harmon, Board Chair of Goodwill Industries of Kansas.
This work is supported by a 20-month investment from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
About the Workforce Alliance
The Workforce Alliance (WA) formed PACES in 2008 when invited to join the National Fund as a regional collaborative site grantee. Through PACES, the WA is building on strong relationships with local employers to elevate living-wage jobs with cross-training and financial literacy tools for frontline employers and supervisor training for managers.
Under the management of the WA, PACES has developed into a mature, employer-led system, securing investments totaling more than $3.9 million for the region, including over $2.7 million in direct grant funds competitively awarded since 2008.
Founding members and local funders of PACES include the United Way of the Plains, TECT Aerospace, Spirit AeroSystems, the Knight Foundation, and the City of Wichita. Current PACES partners also include Cox Machine, FlagshipKansas.Tech, The Mahaney Group, NexStep Alliance, and XLT Ovens.
The Workforce Alliance is the Local Workforce Development Board (WA) and operates employment and training programs through the Workforce Center of South Central Kansas in Butler, Cowley, Harper, Kingman, Sedgwick, and Sumner Counties. For additional information on the Workforce Alliance please visit www.workforce-ks.com
About National Fund for Workforce Solutions
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions invests in a dynamic national network taking a demand-driven, evidence-based approach to workforce development. At the local level, the National Fund’s partner organizations contribute resources, test ideas, collect data, and improve public policies and business practices that help all workers succeed and employers have the talent they need to compete. Learn more at www.NationalFund.org.