A Prepared & Empowered Future Workforce

It’s never too early to begin preparing young people with the skills needed to succeed in the workforce. The job market has gone through big changes in the last decade, and it can be difficult to secure a steady job with a sustainable income. We want to help equip young people in our communities with the skills needed to land such a job and lay a foundation for financial stability later in life.

United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg’s Strengthening Skills for Career Success (SSCS) initiative brings local volunteers into the picture to help students grow and sharpen these skills. Middle and high-school age students are paired with a volunteer to review topics such as resume building, interviewing, navigating job posting sites and more.

Volunteers come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Bill Lund of Lyneer Staffing Solutions was one of 97 Strengthening Skills volunteers in 2020. Bill became passionate about supporting others on their job-seeking journey after experiencing two unexpected layoffs himself. When he learned about United Way’s program, he was eager to get involved.

“I received a tremendous amount of help when I was laid off in the past. I have learned what it takes to help someone get back out there,” said Bill. “When I volunteered with United Way, I felt like I was really empowering someone to have a better life. It was a great way for me to give back because of how much people have helped me when I’ve needed it.”

In his role at Lyneer, Bill works directly with employers to help them find staff for a variety of positions. Through his job, he meets people across the career-readiness spectrum and helps clients assess applicants’ qualifications for various roles.

“I think when we strengthen the job seeker, even if the job seeker is a 14-year-old kid, that person will be better off in the long run. To me, that is so important in our community,” said Bill. “I meet people all the time who are my age and don’t have these skills. To teach people these skills early on sets them up for success from the get-go.”

From 2015-2019, nearly 120,000 adults ages 25-64 in our region were not in the labor force – a labor market participation rate of 81%. This data point provides the fullest, clearest picture of the number of adults in our region who have jobs and is generally considered more informative than the unemployment rate, which accounts only for adults who are actively seeking employment. Data covering the time in which the labor market experienced major changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic is still pending.

In early 2021, United Way hosted 18 virtual opportunities for volunteers from our community to engage with 62 students from the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club through a partnership with Richmond Technical Center. Now that this series has come to a close, United Way hopes that the students who participated will continue to build on this foundation and expand their skillsets. We know their futures are bright!

Our Work in College- or Career-Readiness

United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg serves as the backbone organization for the Workforce Partnership Team which is supporting College- or Career-Readiness through initiatives like Network2WorkRVA and Start Up for Success.

United Way is also funding six programs at five partner agencies for a total of $705,000 in community investments from 2020-2022 under the College- or Career-Readiness Step to Success.