Hampton Roads Coalition Launches Free Training Program

Generation USA Student

A coalition joins through MIT Solve competition to connect Hampton Roads community to free job training, resources, and careers with STIHL Inc. and IMS Gear

Through a Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Solve competition — a marketplace for social impact innovation — a local coalition announced the launch of a job training program in the Hampton Roads community. The program will provide free job training to the community's most vulnerable population and those who are unemployed or underemployed. Coalition members include training providers, workforce development non-profit organization Generation USA, and Tidewater Community College; recruitment partners Hampton Roads Workforce Council and local staffing agency Lee Group; employers STIHL Inc. and IMS Gear, and made possible by funding from RISE, which is funded through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

The first class gives 25 students the opportunity to learn more about becoming an Assembly Specialist, learn more about a factory environment, working with company leadership, and advice and coaching to get promoted quickly. In addition, Generation USA provides mentorship and a dedicated coach to access life assistance programs and general job preparation. Generation and the coalition are working with manufacturing partners who are committed to change for entry-level workers, offering employees a clear path to promotion. Upon completion of the program, students will have the opportunity to interview with STIHL Inc. and IMS Gear. 

"The MIT Solve competition opened the door for us to get connected to these fantastic local organizations and offer this training to the Hampton Roads community," said Sean Segal, Generation USA CEO. "By 2030, the U.S. could see 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs. This program will not only provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to access these careers in manufacturing but in addition provide mentorship and social support services and ensure a path to a meaningful and sustaining career."

The MIT Solve initiative combats racial and gender injustices in the U.S. that continue to hinder the education, employment, and earning potential of historically marginalized communities.

The Challenge is an opportunity to identify, support, and scale promising solutions that accelerate pathways to current and future employment—especially for underserved communities.

The Generation USA Assembly Specialist program started Monday at Tidewater Community College's Skilled Trades Facility and takes four weeks to complete. The next cohort will begin September 6. Admission to the program is rolling with more programs offered throughout the remainder of the year. For more information on the program or to apply, prospective participants and interested employers can visit the information site here.

Perspectives from Coalition:

"Since 1974, STIHL Inc. has had a strong presence in Hampton Roads," said Lorraine Amesbury Holder, STIHL Inc. vice president of operations. "Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility produces the majority of STIHL equipment for the U.S. market, as well as for worldwide export. Our employees are the key to our success, and we are always excited to have the opportunity to introduce a career in modern manufacturing to the next generation."

"We are honored to be a part of this effort in Hampton Roads to upskill and train a very critical part of our workforce. We see candidates daily that are excited to break into the manufacturing field but can't bridge the gap from the current skill set to the needed skill set. To be able to refer candidates to this program is such a value add for our teams. We look forward to getting into the classroom and employing graduates when they are ready," said Walt Graham, President of the Lee Group.

"We are excited to partner with Generation USA to help recruit and train skilled workers for careers in manufacturing," said Shawn Avery, President & CEO, Hampton Roads Workforce Council. "Our region has a high demand for talent in the skilled trades industries, and we look forward to connecting job seekers with meaningful career paths and ensuring employers are able to meet the increased demand."

"From the time we learned about this program, our excitement level has been off the charts. To be able to analyze some of the problems our employees face when entering a new job, and offer real solutions that can turn into classroom education for the future workforce is something our dreams are made of," said Sarah Fulton, Vice President of Operations at the Lee Group. "Because we have to focus so much effort on the day-to-day task at hand, even though we know how to solve some of our problems, we've never been able to pull together resources to give that service to our employees. Enter Generation USA, and here it is. We look forward to this program launching and are hopeful that it becomes a staple in our region's workforce development for many years to come."

"The concept of resilience is not limited to any single aspect of the community. It can be seen through many different lenses including population or workforce, for example," said RISE executive director, Paul Robinson, Ph.D. "Programs like Generation demonstrate the continued expansion of our region as a testbed for innovative resilience solutions and growth."

"IMS Gear is a family-owned business that is ready for employees to take ownership of their future -- we want them to be part of the team," said Guenter Weissenseel, President of IMS Gear.

About Generation

Generation is a nonprofit that transforms education to employment systems to prepare, place, and support people into life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible. The global pandemic has led to an unprecedented surge in unemployment. Even before the pandemic, more than 75 million young adults were out of work globally, and three times as many were underemployed—and 375 million workers of all ages needed to learn new skills by 2030. At the same time, certain jobs remain in high demand, and 40% of employers say a skills shortage leaves them with entry-level vacancies. To date, more than 38,000 people have graduated from Generation programs, which prepare them for meaningful careers in 14 countries. Generation works with more than 3,900 employer partners and many implementation partners and funders. For more, visit usa.generation.org.

About Solve

Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT's innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting transformational impact. Join Solve on this journey at solve.mit.edu.

About the Hampton Roads Workforce Council
Established by the Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board, the Hampton Roads Workforce Council oversees federally funded workforce development programs for all localities in the Hampton Roads region. The Hampton Roads Workforce Council provides strategic workforce development solutions designed to assist businesses in accessing qualified workers and job seekers in search of suitable job openings and training opportunities to bolster their earning potential.

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Source: Generation USA