ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Arapahoe Community College and Arapahoe/Douglas Works! is teaming up to help residents who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their Virtual Work Readiness Program will allow 200 people to upgrade their technology skillsets and expand their resumes while searching for new careers.
“Helping displaced workers learn new skills is always important, but it’s especially crucial in the wake of the COVID crisis,” said Arapahoe County Board Chair Nancy N. Sharpe. “By retraining these workers and providing them with a laptop that enables them to work from home or at a job site as needed, we’re making these people more marketable during a difficult period in their work lives.”
There are 3 levels of the program with approximately 30 hours of instruction for each level. One level will cover the basics of technology and the other will provide participants with the ability to use various platforms such as Microsoft Office, Zoom and Teams. Placement will be determined by a pre-instruction skills assessment.
“Many individuals in the workforce who have been displaced were low-income, lacked college degrees or didn’t necessarily have the technological skill set to immediately switch to a more remote or digitally advanced environment,” said Eric Dunker, Associate VP and Dean of Business, Technology, and Workforce Partnerships at ACC. “This new program will help create more equity and provide pathways to employment for individuals who need to compete in the more digitally advanced workforce environment.”
Dr. Rebecca Woulfe, Vice President for Instruction and Provost at Arapahoe Community College, says jobs are hard to come by, but she’s hopeful about the positions opening because of our “new normal.”
“Where we are seeing industries hiring is in the healthcare field, in areas such as contact tracing. Also in IT areas, even if it’s something as basic as customer support,” said Woulfe. “Right now, they don’t have those technology skills that are so needed to survive as we go to remote work environments.”
The program is funded through the CARES act, making it free for participants to expand their skillsets. Participants are given a laptop, but the lessons are still taught in a hybrid setting.
“Part of it is face-to-face and part of it is online. What we recognized is we were not going to be able to offer this 100% online. These are individuals who aren’t comfortable working online yet, which is why they’re coming into the program,” said Woulfe.
The schedule varies each week based on the number of clients that ADWorks sends to ACC. The program is open from now until the end of December. To qualify, applicants must live in Arapahoe County and prove that they’ve lost their job due to COVID-19 or have had their hours reduced. There are approximately 100 slots available.
Applications are being accepted now. Interested community members can apply by calling 303-636-1160 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.