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Program aimed at expanding job opportunities to launch in Richmond

Posted at 11:56 PM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-11 13:22:56-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- If you are currently working, but you feel underemployed a new program is expanding in Richmond that may be the right fit for you.

In October, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam awarded over $1 million to Network2work, a job network at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville.

The program connects job seekers to the skills and resources they need to earn better wages with employers who are looking for dependable workers.

“Too many families are struggling too hard just to try to make ends meet," Ridge Schuyler, Pilot Manager for Network2Work, said. "The mission is really to unleash the potential of human beings by making sure that they earn enough money to meet their most basic needs."

Schuyler is looking for people who have great potential and who work hard but are still having a difficult time climbing the career ladder.

“It shouldn’t be this hard, especially when there are employers all around us who say they are desperate for workers," he said. "We have people who are desperate for jobs and employers who are desperate for workers, we ought to be able to figure out a better way to make that match."

Schuyler and his team launched Network2Work in 2014 with only nine job seekers in the first year. It has since grown and successfully connected over 900 people to employers and services that led them to higher-paying jobs, he said.

“The secret sauce of Network2Work is really how we identify the people who have been left behind in our economy,” he said.

The organization works with well-connected people in the community who recommend job seeking candidates to Network2Work. Network2work then connects the job seeker with training services and hiring employers with decent wages.

The program caught the eye of Governor Northam’s administration.

In October Northam announced Virginia will invest $1.7 million over the next two years to expand the innovative model.

“The governor's office recognized the work that we were doing and said let's see if the success you had in the Charlottesville region can be replicated in Richmond and Hampton Roads and the Shenandoah Valley. So, that is what we are doing now," said Schuyler. "If we can help one more family or 20 more families or 300 more families it will be an incredibly rewarding experience for all of us."

Network2Work is currently doing groundwork in Richmond with an expectation to start connecting job seekers and employers by January.