In a Q & A with The Conference Board, LISC CEO Maurice A. Jones describes how our Bridges to Career Opportunities programs, embedded in Financial Opportunity Centers across the country, connect local talent with industries in need of skilled workers. LISC’s partnerships with employers in healthcare, manufacturing, information technology and transportation, among others, are the key to those connections, and are helping fuel training and education for thousands of people eager to get to work.
The excerpt below is from:
Q&A with Maurice Jones: Partnering to Develop Talent and Promote Jobs
The Conference Board
There is tremendous economic opportunity for workers and employers when local talent is developed and connected to strong local jobs. This is clearly the case in the transportation industry, where employers often struggle to find people with the right blend of technical know-how and workplace skills to fill their large number of job vacancies. In this Q&A, LISC’s president and CEO, Maurice A. Jones, responds to questions about the organization’s partnership with Union Pacific Railroad.
Why is it important for LISC to work with a corporate partner in the transportation industry?
LISC's Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) bridge the gap between workers and job opportunities by connecting un- and underemployed residents to skills training and credentialing programs that can lead to living-wage jobs with career pathways. Individuals can also take advantage of FOC financial coaching and other support to help them grow their incomes and improve their credit, so that their economic gains will be lasting.
Corporate partnerships, such as our collaboration with Union Pacific Railroad, are crucial to the success of the program. In helping fund these efforts and hire FOC graduates, they open new doors to thousands of aspiring welders, electricians, and technology workers. Our partners get qualified employees they would not otherwise reach and build a workforce that is diverse and inclusive. That, in turn, helps build economically stable communities where these corporations do business.
Corporate partners also provide important insight to LISC, helping us tailor our skills-training programs to meet the requirements not just of their workplace, but of their industry more broadly. It gives workers a better chance to succeed and has lasting impact that ripples beyond households and companies to communities and regions.
LISC supports 80 FOCs nationwide as part of our mission to forge resilient communities, where everyone has the chance to participate in, and benefit from, a robust, growing economy. Thirty-four of our FOCs offer industry-specific skills-training programs, benefitting residents in 14 cities. In addition to transportation, LISC is currently working with employers in distribution and logistics, health care, manufacturing, hospitality, information technology, and construction to help meet their needs for qualified employees.
How did the partnership with Union Pacific come to fruition?
LISC and Union Pacific share many of the same hopes for building safe, prosperous and vibrant communities. Union Pacific recently focused its philanthropic focus to include a range of new opportunities, including a strong commitment to job training and placement in areas where unemployment remains high, despite the strong economy. In 2018, Union Pacific selected LISC as its first national workforce development partner, contributing $3 million to expand the reach of FOCs in Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, and Los Angeles.
The partnership reflects Union Pacific’s community-focused approach to philanthropy, as well as its efforts to expand and diversify its workforce. Union Pacific jobs offer family-sustaining wages with benefits and a career trajectory to open doors to future growth. Given LISC's ability to develop untapped talent and our commitment to connecting more residents to living wage jobs, LISC and Union Pacific are well-matched partners in this effort.