A new nonprofit group is working to help unemployed Virginians train for and obtain jobs.
The Virginia Ready Initiative, or VA Ready, has partnered with a number of businesses, including Roanoke’s Carilion Clinic, and the state’s community colleges to provide incentives and support for out-of-work Virginians to retrain for jobs in high-growth sectors such as technology, health care and skilled trades.
After a participant earns a credential from one of about 30 programs from the state’s community colleges, VA Ready provides a $1,000 credential achievement award and access to its job exchange, where job seekers can search for employment opportunities with business partners, said Glenn Youngkin, co-founder of VA Ready and chairman of the board.
Participants must be enrolled in the state’s FastForward program, which provides two-thirds of tuition costs. Youngkin said he wanted to work within existing infrastructure, rather than duplicate services.
He said VA Ready hopes to retrain 15,000 people over the course of the next two years. Twenty business partners have been secured and more than $5 million raised so far. Youngkin, who is an executive with the Carlyle Group investment firm, founded the nonprofit with his wife, Suzanne Youngkin.
“My wife and I were compelled to try to do something to help people who have been hurt by the economic fallout from COVID-19,” he said. “We came up with the business plan two months ago and have been running hard at it ever since.”
Earlier this month, the Virginia Employment Commission announced that more than 800,000 initial unemployment claims had been filed since March 15.
Youngkin said a disproportionate number of the people affected have only a high school degree or work in a sector that is not resilient.
“These out-of-work Virginians are the least prepared to deal with the economic penalty of COVID-19 and yet they are feeling the most penalty for it,” he said.
More information is available at vaready.org.