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AWC, ACA secures $15 million to connect dislocated workers to jobs

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - New resources are available to help long-term unemployed individuals, dislocated workers, and workers impacted by the pandemic.

Accordingly, through a federal grant, workers will have access to skills training, career pathways, and job opportunities.

Furthermore, the Department of Labor awarded $15 million to Arizona Quality Jobs, Equity, Strategy, and Training (QUEST).

The program's goal is preparing workers for jobs in high-demand fields like healthcare and manufacturing.

For further context, QUEST is a statewide coalition that includes the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), six community colleges including Arizona Western College (AWC), and Arizona@Work.

The collaborative initiative will serve six local workforce development areas including the counties of Cochise, Maricopa, Mohave/La Paz, Pima, Yavapai, and Yuma. 

“As jobs expand in our state, we are ensuring that all workers have the opportunity to fully participate in the workforce,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“As the pandemic displaced workers, the ACA along with our partners in industry, academia, workforce development and more stepped in to provide critical employment support services. These dollars will allow us to redouble those efforts and help more people find employment that enables them to thrive.”

According to Arizona@Work's Operations Director Patrick Goetz, about $2 million dollars will be coming to Yuma County to assist locals who are unemployed.

He says this grant is different than the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, whereas more people may be eligible for the QUEST Program.

"A dislocated worker would be maybe somebody separated from their job because of a layoff. You know for whatever reasons, because of the economy, because of COVID," explains Goetz. "So under this grant, an example would be somebody was sick in my family, I quit my job to take care of my family and now I want to come back to work, well that person would be qualified for that program."

AWC's President Dr. Daniel Corr says the grant has come remarkably quick.

"This was pulled together really in record time, in just the past couple of months. We saw this unique opportunity available and again I got to give a shoutout to our partners at the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Office of Economic Opportunity," Dr. Corr says.

"They came and approached the colleges to see who might be interested and just really proud of the fact that Arizona Western College jumped to the front, took on that responsibility and marshaled everyone together."

He adds, many programs are going to benefit from the grant.

"That's the neat thing about this grant. It's not regulated to one job or set of job occupations," states Dr. Corr. "Really it's up to the individual to pursue the type of training he or she wants."

Dr. Corr says it's not one size fits all.

"We will in fact transform lives. Somewhere between 250 and 270 people will have an opportunity to take transformational job training," Dr. Corr continues.

"We want to prepare these citizens of our community for the jobs of tomorrow. High wage, high tech, high growth areas and then that creates the thriving community that we want, right? We want well trained workforce to attract even more business to Yuma and La Paz County so it's really a virtuous circle and I think this is a really great start towards that end."

Goetz and Dr. Corr are hoping the QUEST Program will be ready to start taking applications by the beginning of 2023.

If you would like to read more about this program, then click here.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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