Calling structural unemployment “the most significant issue facing our nation,” WorkingNation Founder and CEO Art Bilger connected workforce development solutions happening in Southern California to those happening across the United States.
“This time it’s about the heart of America,” Bilger said in his keynote address at the 21st Annual Strictly Business L.A. Awards Luncheon on Thursday.
Speaking to a crowd of hundreds representing event hosts JVS SoCal, its partners and supporters, Bilger brought attention to the national trends that are shaping the future of work, the theme of this year’s Strictly Business L.A. event.
Technology, a rapidly-aging population and an insufficient education system are contributing to a potential crisis that could leave millions of Americans without the skills to obtain 21st-century careers, according to Bilger. The shift in skills is accelerating and workers without equitable access to training will be unable to adapt without fundamental changes to society and the education system.
Bilger said that the U.S. must change its focus away from traditional notions of K-12 education to a more flexible system accessible to learners of all ages.
“Lifelong learning is a theme we, as a society, must follow,” said Bilger.
Bilger’s remarks were part of the networking event celebrating the work JVS SoCal and its partners have done to change the lives of unemployed and underemployed people in Los Angeles.
Through the JVS BankWork$®, ApartmentWorks® and HealthWorks® career training programs, JVS SoCal continues to deliver skills to low-income and underserved communities. These accelerated programs are free for all participants, who go through eight weeks of technical and soft skills instruction which prepare them for entry-level careers.
“JVS is doing exactly the types of things we’re trying to identify and tell in stories,” Bilger said.
Bilger gave an overview of WorkingNation’s mission to inform the public about the changing nature of work through our compelling video content and original reporting.
Beginning with our animated short “Slope of the Curve”—which was screened ahead of Bilger’s speech—and continuing with the “FutureWork” and “Do Something Awesome” series, Bilger said that our content amplifies solutions like JVS BankWork$ for a national audience.
Following Bilger’s keynote address, the crowd was treated to a screening of the 18th episode of the Do Something Awesome series “Banking on Your Future” which focused on the success stories of two JVS BankWork$ graduates, Jerry Walker and Janet Romero. Both Walker and Romero have found new careers with City National Bank and Bank of America and spoke at Strictly Business L.A.
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Walker, who introduced the JVS BankWork$ mini-documentary, has climbed the career ladder since joining City National Bank in 2016 and is now a Relationship Banker, helping source new business through his extensive customer-service training. Where once he held down two jobs and rarely saw his three children, he now has economic independence and keeps a regular schedule.
“It was a privilege to share my story, knowing that it might contribute to greater awareness and increased opportunities for people facing the same barriers that left me in such despair in the not so distant past,” said Walker.
Romero, who was hired as a Client Services Representative in May, juggled long commutes and minimum-wage work while going through JVS BankWork$ in early 2018. She spoke about her experience along with three other recent graduates who worked hard to make a better life for themselves and their families.
The quality of the workers produced by JVS BankWork$ and the reliability of this program to source and train a diverse group of candidates has resulted in this solution being brought to scale with a national version of BankWork$ available in 11 cities.
JVS graduates’ ability to make an in immediate impact for their employers was hailed by the winner of the JVS Corporate Partnership Award, Steve Solk, the President of Consumer Banking for CIT/One West Bank.
“These are your future leaders,” Solk said.
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