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Funds at OCCF

The Future is Working: OC Workforce Development Initiative

The Future is Working, OCCF’s Workforce Development Initiative, focuses on connecting educational institutions and workforce development programs to in-demand, middle-skills jobs within targeted sectors in Orange County via formalized pipelines. Key partnerships are developed between community colleges, nonprofit organizations, and local employers working collaboratively to identify, support, and ultimately place candidates in middle-skills jobs. Our focus on middle-skills jobs was born out of the data reflected in the 2019 OC Community Indicators Report, a snapshot of Orange County trends and demographics released annually by the OCBC, which highlighted the increase in vacant middle-skills jobs, upwards of 17,000 per year, over the next ten years – particularly in the healthcare, advanced manufacturing and IT sectors.

Since 2019, the Workforce Development Initiative has awarded over $1.6M in grants to 7 collaborative projects.

Middle-skills jobs are defined as jobs that require less than a four-year degree but some specialized training and/or certifications, often only 2-year programs, a group of employment opportunities that have become all the more important as youth begin to reconsider the value of a higher education in a post-pandemic world. The target populations include three key demographics of traditionally low-income job seekers that have the potential for immediate positive impact through a middle skills job: Graduating high school seniors enrolling in community college, disconnected youth seeking additional training to reintegrate into the workforce, and underemployed young adults seeking to advance their career potential.

A complimentary focus to the Workforce Development Initiative’s granting is engaging stakeholders in quarterly convenings for information sharing and developing strategic partnerships. These quarterly convenings bring together 35-40 representatives from local nonprofits, community colleges and employers across industry sectors to improve working relationships, outline shared priorities, and develop regional strategies for coordination and collaboration. Convenings focus on different topics each quarter and invite a variety of speakers to share information about innovative program models, brainstorming through common challenges, and funding opportunities available throughout Orange County.

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