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GMACWorkforce Connects the Dots to Jobs for the Memphis Workforce

It takes a network to get a job, said Dr. Glen Fenter, president of the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACWorkforce). They have built a networked environment to share information among all workforce stakeholders and the job seekers they serve. Built on the Workbay platform developed by Mary Hayes, president of Memphis-based Workbay LLC, this common database and mobile app will roll out this fall to make job seeking, job training and job recruitment easier to access.

The app, MemphisWorks, will help job seekers build resumes, find jobs nearest them, link them with schools that provide training for specific types of jobs and alert them to new job postings for their field of interest and skill level. For community partners who have career counselors like the Workforce Investment Network (WIN), HopeWorks, Seedco, the Boys and Girls Club and local schools, this platform is designed to complement their case management activities and offer additional resources. For businesses, the platform can serve as an applicant management system, screening to compile a qualified pool of potential hires for jobs, and assist in training with online learning.

MemphisWorks combines jobs, online learning, resume building, career exploration into one community network. “No one in the country has all of these components in one tool,” said Willie Gregory, chair of the board at GMACWorkforce and global community director at Nike.
Until now.
Through the collaboration of its partners, the Alliance works every day to build career pathways between people and the region’s open high-skilled positions. It serves nine counties surrounding the Greater Memphis Regional Area. Focused on the unemployed and underemployed and driven by the needs of employers, GMACWorkforce and its partners designed MemphisWorks as a bridge to connect people in the job market with training for open jobs.

“We know that the unemployed are often disconnected from a lot of the services needed to make good career decisions,” Fenter said. MemphisWorks can connect them, showing them where to access resources and community support. Having the information on an app, in addition to a website, was also a move designed to meet people where they are.
The Chamber helped GMACWorkforce with MemphisWorks by connecting companies during the development phase. Anytime a business is asked to take time away from the day at hand, it can be a hard sell, but “the caliber of leaders who stepped up to participate on the forefront gave the project some credibility,” said Kelly Rayne, senior vice president of community development at the Chamber.
“At first all we could show them was a concept,” said Anita Brackin, director of workforce development and education at the Chamber.  “Now that we have a functioning application, they want to know when they can get involved.”
There’s no cost to participate, and companies can post job openings using a login or download their information, said Latanyua T. Robinson, director of career navigation services with GMACWorkforce. Many companies are already using third parties and get thousands of resumes. With MemphisWorks, the businesses can get applicants filtered for location and skills.
Developed with the assistance of a $1.5 million grant, MemphisWorks was placed in beta testing among community partners this summer. A formal announcement is expected in October, and by early spring, Fenter said, officials will be busy “making it a part of the fabric of Memphis. Our community has options. We have choices. There is hope.”

Dr. Fenter agrees MemphisWorks is part of the solution. While the app will be available to individuals, nonprofits that work with the unemployed are expected to help sign up their clients and continue extending resources to them. We want to “weave the tool into existing efforts,” Dr. Fenter said. Career pathways have been built using data gathered from Department of Labor, O*NET, CareerOneStop, Department of Education, and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Existing partners like FedEx and Smith & Nephew were the first to come on board, but GMACWorkforce is casting the net for all sorts of companies, including small and mid-sized businesses. “We hope it will become a very robust job board,” Fenter said.
One of the first aspects MemphisWorks users will see are short testimonial videos of local employees talking about their jobs and the training they needed to get them. Filmed at locations around Memphis, the employees generously shared their best advice for career success and delivered the message, “if I can do this, so can you.” Other videos featured executives in high-rise offices talking about their first jobs. They came from humble beginnings, they say, and worked their way into careers. The videos serve as motivation for people who are seeking employment or exploring career options. With the videos, they see “I have options, and there are people in organizations prepared to help me along the way.”
The education component is an important aspect of MemphisWorks. A job seeker may turn away from certain types of jobs because he or she does not have the education or skills for it. They don’t pursue that career even though it may interest them. By using the app, the job seeker is directed to online learning related to skills where users earn badges for completion. Employers may view the badges and thus determine what skills the job seeker possesses. The app also links users to partner post-secondary schools where credentialed or certification training is offered. Partner colleges include the Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Arkansas State University Mid-South, William R. Moore College of Technology and Southwest Tennessee Community College.

“The biggest hurdle is matching supply with demand,” said Fenter. “This mobile app really supplies that bridge.”
Medical device maker Smith & Nephew, a $4.6 billion company with approximately 2,400 employees in Memphis, is “constantly hiring people,” said Billy Hogue, manager over operations training. “This is a great industry. We’re growing. We’re looking for ways to connect.”
To connect to potential workers, Smith & Nephew uses apprenticeships and job fairs to fill positions that require training but don’t always require college. Hogue believes MemphisWorks can help with “the scarcity of skilled labor in this area. It’s a pretty neat app, a future way of thinking.”

To join this community initiative or download the app, visit or call the GMACWorkforce office, (901) 614-1099.

Story by: Toni Lepeska
Photos by: Troy Glasgow

Posted: 1/12/2017 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: MemphisCrossroads, Workforce

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (