Non-profit retrains out-of-work Virginians to find new jobs

Posted at 8:48 AM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 08:48:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- With millions of Virginians out of work and on unemployment, nonprofit VA READY is on a mission to rapidly reskill, reintroduce to the workforce, and renew hope for folks like Mewael Hilegiorgis.

He has been out of work at a Virginia airport for five months.

Mewael was thrilled to learn about the VA READY training program and is now training to become a billing and coding specialist.

“It helps you pursue your educational desires. At the same time, they support you with $1,000 when you complete your studies,” Mywael said.

The nonprofit is now partnering with the Virginia Community College System’s FastForward initiative.

The goal is to train the unemployed in a variety of high-demand professions like healthcare, manufacturing, cyber technology, and more.

VA READY CEO Caren Merrick says since their June launch, they've enrolled 300 scholars in the program.

Their first cohort is now ready to get connected with new job opportunities with some of the businesses involved in the program.

Richmond-area businesses include Dominion Energy, Bon Secours, Genworth Financial, PWC, CoStar, and EY.

“We interviewed 35 companies about the jobs they have now. There are at least 10,000 jobs open now in health care.
A certified nursing assistant, in manufacturing and trades we need line workers and welders. We need HVAC experts” Merrick explained.

When they're done, participants can interview with those businesses.

Though there is tuition for the program, Merrick said there was also financial help available.

“The program is set up for accelerated training and for tuition assistance. Some people get the entire tuition paid,” Merrick explained.

“In the end, there is nothing out of pocket that I'm paying. VA Ready is always there to help you achieve your dreams. There's nothing to lose and in the end, it's all a big success” Mywael said.

When trainees complete the program, VA READY presents them with a monetary credential achievement award.

“That $1,000 can be used any way a student would like and they can use it to apply towards their tuition if that's how they choose,” Merrick said.

Nearly two dozen businesses are involved in the program and Merrick says their goal is to add more, to expand potential employment opportunities for trainees.

If you are interested in the program, click here.

Virginia Together: The Rebound Richmond campaign is here to help. Find information on who is hiring, investigations into unemployment payment issues, financial advice on making ends meet, and mental health advice on managing the pressures. These stories will be featured often on CBS 6 News and can be found by clicking this link.