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 more than 35 collaborative, 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 jobseekers 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.