One in three American workers earns less than $15 an hour. The majority of jobs that offer opportunities for career advancement and family-sustaining wages require post-secondary skills training that many low-wage workers struggle to access, often because they cannot afford to pay for the training they need to access in-demand careers.
Responding to the need, the IRC and Walmart Foundation have partnered on Skills for All, a new initiative designed to provide workers with in-demand skills and career opportunities through innovative financing models. Skills for All, a national two-year pilot initiative, will be supported through a $400,000 investment from the Walmart Foundation. Through this project, IRC will collaborate with employers and state and local Workforce Development Boards to co-create and offer alternative skills financing tools to improve access to skills training for low-wage workers. Further details of the initiative and investment models are available here.
Currently, the IRC is at work in over 20 US cities supporting over 50,000 Americans per year, many of whom are low-wage looking to move into careers with lasting economic quality. Building upon its national reach and expertise in delivering workforce development programs, the IRC is well-placed to design and implement such an initiative. Key to the success of the project will be leveraging the organization’s relationships with over 1,000 employers, nearly 20 workforce development boards, and partnership with its lending subsidiary, IRC’s CEO.
Erica Bouris, Ph.D. Director of Economic Empowerment at the IRC, said: “Despite the prevalence of several models for financing skill-training, too many low-wage workers still struggle to access and pay for the skills training they need to move into higher-paying, higher-quality jobs. This urgent need is why we’re thrilled to partner with Walmart Foundation around Skills for All, which will create lasting economic opportunities for the vulnerable US communities that the IRC serves. Furthermore, our ambition for the program’s impact will be scalable - we envision workforce development boards and employers across the country using the skills financing models developed as a part of this initiative.”