One of the most important building blocks for a strong, sustainable Phoenix economy is the development of a talented workforce to stay competitive and drive responsible growth.
Although I work for a bank, I often spend just as much time speaking with business owners and other leaders about people than I do about capital – underscoring the fact that a top business concern these days is attracting qualified people from a shrinking pool of talent.
Across the nation, Bank of America has made workforce development a top philanthropic priority, and here in Phoenix, we have built strong partnerships with several of the region’s outstanding nonprofit organizations. Our focus is to help prepare new and returning talent for the job skills needs of tomorrow, as well as developing strategies that better connect the needs of employers with training providers.
Recently, the bank awarded $720,000 in grants to 39 Valley nonprofits to help lift people out of poverty and get them on the path to financial mobility through workforce development, education and basic needs resources – in particular for youth and adults from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
One of these grants was to A New Leaf in support of their BankWork$ program, which provides job skills training to people from underserved areas to help them secure meaningful employment with financial institutions. BankWork$® is an eight-week program covering essential skills needed to succeed, from business etiquette, banking regulations, handling cash and preparing for the interview. A full 75% of program graduates have found careers in banking since BankWork$® launched in Arizona in 2016, many of them with Bank of America.
Another partner doing great work in this space is Fresh Start Women’s Foundation. Their Upward Mobility Program is an intensive 6-month program designed to give women more opportunities to build resiliency and career readiness through job skills training, education, and networking opportunities for a self-sufficient and upwardly mobile career track.
Grant recipient St. Joseph the Worker is ringing their bell and connecting people with employment on a regular basis – nearly 3,000 this past year, as a matter of fact. This organization provides assistance with resume writing, interviews, business attire, and wraparound services like bus tickets to help low income job seekers move from homelessness or poverty to sustainable employment.
With Arizona’s economy in full swing and businesses experiencing a tight labor market for qualified workers, we are honored to partner with the nonprofit community in providing the skills and training needed to have an effective pipeline of qualified talent that so many employers are seeking.
Patrick W. Barnes is the Senior Vice President, Bank of America Merrill Lynch