There is a new program in the New River Valley that will help working parents get the training they need to secure higher-wage jobs in the, manufacturing, healthcare and information technology fields, while simultaneously assisting them in finding affordable childcare.
The program, SwiftStart, is a partnership between many organizations including New River Community Action, TAP, the Western Virginia Workforce Development Board, the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, Virginia Tech, area education and training providers and many of the region’s leading employers.
SwiftStart Director Matt Moore said the program received a $4 million dollar grant from the Department of Labor to fund the four-year project. He added that future funding would depend on the success of the program.
The program will offer career pathway development in three distinct middle- and high-skilled fields: healthcare, advanced manufacturing and information technology; career coaching; in-demand credentials that can be obtained in 2 to 18 months; quality childcare while attending training/classes; job placement assistance and ongoing support from career mentors and other participants.
New River Community Action Career Mentor Carolyn Fisher will be working with individuals in the area who qualify for the program.
“SwiftStart Career Mentors will assist working parents in the New River Valley by giving them an ‘edge’ in today’s competitive landscape by securing higher-wage jobs and helping them find affordable child care,” said Fisher. “We are offering an ear to listen and a push in the right direction.”
Fisher said the training for the healthcare and manufacturing jobs will be provided by New River Community College, while the information technology job training will be administered through online programs.
Although the program does not currently have any partnerships with businesses guaranteeing jobs to individuals who complete the training, Moore said that they consulted various organizations such as Carilion Clinic, Integrated Textile Solutions, JPI, Precision Fabrics Group, Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, Virginia Tech, the Walker Foundry as well as relying on a comprehensive labor study conducted by the NRV Regional Commission when deciding what industries to focus on.
Fisher said that the program hopes have 17 participants by June, and roughly 100 individuals who will complete training in the pilot program’s initial four years.
To be eligible for SwiftStart, individuals must meet the following criteria: age 17 or older with a high school diploma or GED; eligible to work in the U.S.; a custodial parent, legal guardian, or foster parent of at least one dependent that is 13 or younger (dependents with a disability or developmental delay may exceed 13 years of age); demonstrate aptitude and ability for a career in one of the targeted career tracks.
Parents interested in participating in the program should contact Carolyn Fisher at 633-5513, ext. 453, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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