Jobs Waiting, a federally funded regional job training program, announced this week that it had placed its 300th job.
Maribel Valencia-Barajas was the 300th individual to obtain employment through the program, which trains unemployed individuals for jobs in the region’s fastest-growing sectors. Valencia-Barajas will work as a medical assistant and medical records specialist at Westchester Neurological Consultants in Yonkers.
“What this program does for people who have a drive and a determination to have a better life, is close the skills gap,” Westchester County Executive George Latimer said at a press conference to announce the milestone. “The ability is there, but there are skills that are needed in order for someone to be hired in a particular job. This program builds a bridge between the individual who is talented, but needs that extra training to secure a job.”
Latimer said that businesses that hire Jobs Waiting candidates may receive up to $40,000 in incentives for training those candidates. To date, more than $2 million has been disbursed to employers for paid “work tryouts,” training for existing employees and on-the-job training.
Businesses have until Oct. 31 to take full advantage of the incentives provided by Jobs Waiting.
According to Latimer, Jobs Waiting addresses key challenges faced by Westchester businesses: a workforce skills gap and the need to fill thousands of vacant positions in healthcare.
Funded by federal Ready to Work and Tech Hire partnership grants from the U.S. Department of Labor, Jobs Waiting is led by a partnership between Westchester County, the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, employment centers throughout the Hudson Valley, and the Westchester County Association, which manages the Ready to Work federal grant program.
“Workforce development is the foundation of economic growth,” said William M. Mooney Jr., president and CEO of the Westchester County Association. “By reactivating unemployed individuals for careers in the region’s fastest-growing sectors, the Jobs Waiting program transforms need on both sides of the employee/employer equation into economic opportunity. With 300 people now matched to careers, it is clear that this innovative program is working for Westchester and the Hudson Valley.”