- Bank of America has partnered with the Virginia Ready Initiative (VA Ready) to help retrain unemployed Virginia residents for "high-demand jobs," the initiative announced.
- Upon achieving credentials at one of the Virginia Community College System’s 23 colleges, VA Ready scholars are granted a $1,000 reward and opportunities to interview with VA Ready’s partners, including Bank of America. The program is aligned with in-demand jobs in rising fields, including tech, healthcare and manufacturing.
- "VA Ready has built a platform for business leaders in Virginia to work together and create a pipeline for trained, certified people with the skills employers need now," Larry Di Rita, Bank of America's market president for Greater Washington D.C., said in a statement. "It is a proven approach that Bank of America is following elsewhere across the country."
Bank of America’s partnership with VA Ready is just the latest example of how employers are grappling with sudden changes to the workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — something that "has shined a harsh light" on the global skills gap, Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a June blog post.
In response, Microsoft announced its goal to reskill 25 million job seekers, using real-time labor market data gathered from LinkedIn to identify labor hot spots. The company also plans to offer free learning opportunities through LinkedIn Learning as well as low-cost certification programs to help workers gain the skills needed for the jobs of the future.
A lack of skills remains a barrier for small businesses especially during the pandemic, according to a June survey by small-business software review service GetApp. The changes brought about by COVID-19 shifted skill sets required by employers for 84% of the businesses in the survey. In response, more employers are looking to train their workers and are increasing their training budgets to match.
Employers aren’t alone in their efforts. State governments have stepped up, too, as the VA Ready initiative shows; in a March executive order, Maine’s governor removed some restrictions on certain job training funds to "rapidly provide" free online training to workers in response to the pandemic.