Phoenix selected for $1 million grant for mobile job unit – Phoenix Business Journal – Phoenix Business Journal

Science & Technology

Phoenix is one of 15 global cities chosen as a winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, which earned the city a $1 million grant and three years of support to implement a mobile unit to connect residents with jobs by traveling to their communities, or assisting employers with job fairs.
Michael Hammett, chief innovation officer for the city of Phoenix, said the city wanted to identify a way to help grow the workforce and connect people with jobs, especially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The city had created mobile Covid testing and vaccine sites, so the idea that was submitted to the challenge was to repurpose a mobile testing unit to create a “career mobility unit.”
“We put together a team of people to explore the problem and find barriers and potential solutions,” Hammett said. “Transportation, access to the internet, access to computers and computer skills and English language can all be challenges.”
The goal was to bring all the resources that a job seeker would need, including bilingual services, access to the internet, computer skills assistance and other help to the community and connect people with employers trying to fill job openings. Applicants can do virtual interviews with employers for current job openings using the mobile unit, or employers might choose to come to the unit and do interviews on location, Hammett said.
The city applied for the challenge in early 2021 and did testing throughout the year to see if the idea would really work. It partnered with Food City and Renaissance Hotels for hiring events, and tested parking the van at a Food City location at 35th Avenue and McDowell Road and at Burton Barr library.
“We were happy to see that it worked and led to people getting hired,” Hammett said.
With the funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Hammett said the city will be able to have new locations for the van and can partner with more employers trying to fill open roles. The next steps will include working with the organization to further develop the implementation plan. The city identified U.S. Census tracts that have been most impacted by unemployment throughout the pandemic to target areas that could benefit most.
“Global talent shortages are at a 15-year high with one in three employers citing difficulty filling jobs,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said in a statement. “So, in Phoenix, we got creative and focused on coming up with new ways for employers and job seekers to connect. We are thrilled that our concept for mobile career units is receiving this tremendous recognition, which pilots have successfully demonstrated provides employers with skilled talent and results in ‘on the spot’ hires. This innovative approach holds great promise to getting Phoenicians into good jobs, and we hope that it can serve as a model for communities around the world to better support individuals and families.”
Michael Odermatt, who oversees the Mayors Challenge for Bloomberg Philanthropies, said the organization was looking for ideas that were driven by data and were replicable by other cities.
Cities that were chosen as winners will have an innovation coach from Bloomberg and three years of project management support as part of the challenge.
“For Phoenix specifically, we all have been part of the pandemic, and we have seen how cities have stepped up, often in the absence action at the state or federal level,” he said. “It really caught our eye that they were using a mobile testing unit for jobs.”
Odermatt said the organization will now be working with winner cities to define targets and goals for the programs, and work to make sure the program is sustainable beyond the life of the grant.
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