Tackling Spiking Unemployment with Workforce Development Opportunities

As national unemployment spikes to 15%, rivaling that of the Great Depression, families and individuals are searching for ways to expand their employment prospects in an increasingly volatile job market. It’s estimated that over 115,000 people in Prince George’s County are unemployed, while nearly half a million unemployment claims have been submitted through Virginia since mid-march.

While almost all states have begun reopening to some degree, it is uncertain how quickly businesses will return to normal capacity. In the meantime, United Way of the National Capital Area Financial Empowerment Centers are building capacity and offering virtual workforce development trainings, workshops and consultations to help the community navigate how to move forward.

Throughout the pandemic, United Way NCA Financial Empowerment Centers have worked through economic challenges with individuals and families. Through a series of virtual financial literacy workshops, emergency budget training, small business coaching, and tax assistance, the FECs have proved to be an innovative and nimble first responder to the economic fallout in the wake of COVID-19.

As the needs shift, United Way NCA Financial Empowerment Centers are now looking at a roadmap to long-term recovery. For many workers employed through small businesses, restaurants, or hospitality it’s unclear how long it will take for those services to return to status quo. Though segments of the economy are adapting to physical distancing and curb side service, a large portion of jobs across a spectrum of financially disrupted industries require a physical presence. However, in empowering workers to expand their skills they can adapt to shifting employment needs as the economy puts itself back together.

“We are still moving forward with our programs in terms of meeting clients, working on their resumes and developing their interview skills,” Sally Meyer at the Financial Empowerment Center at South County shares. “I think it’s a really great time for people to kinda take a step back and time to really broaden and develop skills so that when business start to open more and more they’re in a better position to apply for jobs.”

Meyer notes that as businesses adopt work from home policies, employers are increasingly interested in candidates with “soft skills”— attributes like team collaboration, peer-to-peer communication, and oral and written language skills. Skill sharing sites like Alison and Lynda are offering thousands of distanced learning classes for free through online portals on public libraries for those with a library card.

Whether it’s utilizing a free virtual workshop or talking with a workforce development coach about expanding skills and opportunities, United Way NCA Financial Empowerment Centers are providing free financial services to families in DC, Maryland and Virginia. For more information or to get in touch with a Financial Empowerment Center near you, please visit financialempowermentcenters.org