City’s Back-to-Work Initiative Works

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Provided by City of Manassas Economic Development

An effort by the City of Manassas to help residents who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic has exceeded initial goals and given many participants a start on new careers. Nearly 50 Manassas residents have been receiving guidance, support and training for entry into a variety of fields, and many have already
found new jobs. The program was launched in the early summer to help unemployed and underemployed residents directly impacted by furloughs and layoffs resulting from COVID-19.

Manassas City officials realized that there was a need and an opportunity to help residents receive skills training that would assist them in getting good jobs with career path opportunities, despite the disruptions to the local economy that were taking place. Many high wage, in-demand jobs were still available in Manassas, but frequently people lacked the training necessary to land them. To address this, the Manassas City Council appropriated $400,000 from its CARES Act funds and contracted with workforce development agency SkillSource to develop Job Seeker and Employer Services programs. Training providers and partners throughout the region, especially Northern Virginia Community College, had the ability to deliver training and career development programs rapidly and were eager to help. Services were designed to be comprehensive and included outreach to potential enrollees, free tuition and enrollment, support services like transportation assistance and child care, and ultimately job placement. Because of this initiative participants are now pursuing new careers in a variety of fields and disciplines including nursing, paralegal, business, management, computer science, information technology and more.

The City’s unemployment rate had been at a three decade low of 2% in December 2019 and spiked to 11.3% in May 2020. Since the Jobseeker and Employer Services programs began, the City’s unemployment has dropped down to 5%. “I’m very pleased with how well our partners joined together to brainstorm, develop and implement this program so quickly,” said Manassas Assistant Economic Development Director Nicole Smith. “I want to thank our City Council for their leadership and all of our partners who recognized the importance of what we were doing to help our residents during this crisis. The results have been phenomenal.” Training is ongoing for many of the participants. Additional job placements are expected in the coming months as Manassas continues working to stabilize its economy – in this case, one resident at a time.



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