I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Fred Dedrick, Executive Director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. You can listen to a podcast of our discussion here: Fred Dedrick Interview 7.28.10.
This Boston-based organization, involving nearly 200 foundations and 500 employers, is focused on finding effective new ways to prepare low wage workers for careers that can support them and their families. Per the latest US jobs data, unemployment continues to hover around 9.5% and workers without current skills and certifications are more heavily represented among the unemployed.
Our conversation centered on the different strategies through which the NFWS pursues its mission to help workers at the lower end of the wage scale acquire skills both to enter the workforce and to move up once they get there. This approach clearly requires the participation of employers, and I asked Fred what benefits the employer organizations feel they get out of their participation in NFWS programs. According to Fred, these employers have found that trained workers result in higher productivity, less waste, and better employee retention. The employers also get access to information about Recovery Act funds, grants, and other sources of funding they can pursue for worker development.
You can learn more about the National Fund’s results in their annual report. Some of the highlights of their results in the last year include:
- 18,036 jobseekers and incumbent workers received training and career support, an increase of 286 percent from the year before;
- 9,735 participants received degrees or credentials, compared to 679 in 2008;
- 4,058 jobseekers secured jobs as a result of their participation, up from 893 in 2008;
- Of those who got jobs, 81 percent are working more than 35 hours per week.
Shortly before I spoke with Fred, he’d learned that the NFWS had been awarded two-year $7.7 million dollar grant from the Corporation for National and Community Services under its Social Innovation Fund in Washington, DC. These funds will help the NFWS expand its existing 22 programs and add another 6-8 in the coming year. Please contact the NFWS directly if you’d like to learn more about how to get involved in their expanding efforts.