A new program in Dallas aims to change lives by removing barriers in the workforce.
It’s called Workforce Dallas, and it’s starting in some of the city’s ZIP codes most at risk for poverty. The program’s leadership said the goal is to bring a holistic, hands-on approach to workforce training, upskilling and job matching.
Felicia Miller said she knows the impact of a stable job and steady income. She’s the chief talent officer at Parkland Hospital's Office of Talent Management.
She said career opportunities in health care aren’t limited to frontline workers. Keeping a health system going takes a village, and it takes skilled people to fill a variety of positions.
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“One of the best ways of improving the health, wellness and life of people is full employment,” Miller said. “That adds stability to people’s lives, economic stability, health stability.”
It’s why she’s optimistic about Workforce Dallas and its mission to train and match under-served communities with solid, sustainable jobs. She said within the health care system, workers are needed in transportation, nursing, pharmaceuticals and culinary departments, just to name a few.
“Hospital systems like this are like mini-cities. We have everything you can think of,” said Miller.
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Lynn McBee is Workforce Czar for the city of Dallas. Mayor Eric Johnson appointed McBee to the position at the beginning of the year. She’s tasked with leading a strong, equitable workforce throughout the city, starting with the most vulnerable communities.
“It’s about plugging someone into a job that’s going to be forever and that's going to have upward mobility,” said McBee.
She said the people targeted by the program are people who often work multiple jobs and still find it difficult to make ends meet. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the "working poor" are people who spent at least 27 weeks in the labor force, but whose incomes still fell below the official poverty level.
“They’re not sitting back saying, ‘Oh, I’m resigning from my job.’ They’ve never been given the opportunity to have those jobs or be a part of this greater narrative about workforce,” McBee explained.
Between July 1 and Labor Day, the goal is to have 50 to 100 people successfully complete the program and begin work. McBee said they want to more than quadruple that number within the year.
Workforce Dallas will focus primarily on four industries for job training and placement: Transportation logistics, health care, construction and IT.
In November of last year, Johnson commissioned a report to examine the condition of Dallas’ workforce. The report found a need for more resources for working adults between the ages of 25 and 65.
McBee said Workforce Dallas was designed to provide wraparound resources for those adults throughout the entire process.
“It’s intensive case management, if you will, to find what you need. And then there’s that matching piece,” she said.
Beyond landing the job, she said it’s about making a lasting positive impact on the overall quality of life.
“If you can give someone one job and then they can spend time with their job out at the park or whatever, that’s a game-changer,” McBee said.