Workforce Partnership Created to Address Unemployment

Release date: 9/14/2015

Memphis, Tenn. –  A public-private workforce partnership has formed to address the gap between available jobs, available training programs and the unemployed and underemployed in Memphis. The partners include the Greater Memphis Chamber, the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) and the Workforce Investment Network (WIN).  GMACW was created in November of 2014 out of the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle and the Memphis and Shelby County Regional Economic Development Plan, prepared in collaboration with the Brookings Institution Policy Program.

The partners meet weekly to discuss a variety of workforce challenges and needs including:

  • Employer needs 
  • Status of participants in training programs
  • Efforts to make the community and employers aware of training programs
  • Community engagement efforts
“With this partnership, more people will be hired for great jobs and that is key to growing our middle class in Memphis. Together, we can see where the gaps and challenges are and address them more effectively, creating more success for our employers and putting people to work,” said Phil Trenary, President & CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber.

“Our goal is for our employers to have access to the quality workforce that they need to compete and for our people to have the skills that they need to get great jobs. Our strategies involve working with our partners in the educational arena to create better alignment of our training and educational programs with the needs of our local employers, and moreover, to work with the Chamber and WIN to deliver innovative strategies and tools that assist our citizens in successfully navigating the pathways to good jobs and great careers,” said Dr. Glen Fenter, CEO, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce.

The partners will launch their first joint community engagement effort in mid-September with a pilot program where area churches will host participants from their congregations who are unemployed. The partners will have staff members connect participants to Job Opportunities, Training and Support Services. The churches are chosen based on geographic location and they will take an active role in helping to assist with connecting people to available job resources.  

“Our workforce system must play an active role in community and economic development and that work is only done through collaboration.  Partnering with our business and faith-based communities to help transform the way we connect job seekers to employers is just a part of how WIN is ensuring that more people are getting the skills they need to gain employment,” said Kevin Woods, Executive Director, Workforce Investment Network.

“For us at WIN, it’s about getting the word out and making sure we can meet people where they are.  Instead of sitting in our offices waiting on them to show up, we needed to take our services directly to the people that need them most.  Instead of guessing what barriers stood in the way of their success, WIN wanted to work with those who are already in the community and know the challenges that our job-seekers face.  Our faith-based community has long shared the belief that the only way to improve the community is by providing good jobs and quality education.   We’re excited to be part of that solution and we look forward to placing our limited resources where they are needed most,” said Woods.

More details to come on additional pilot program workforce events. 

For more than 175 years, the Greater Memphis Chamber has been the lead economic development organization for Memphis/Shelby County, and is a private, non-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of 2,200 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals.