As Gwinnett County’s unemployment rate spiked from 2.4 to 12.5 percent in the first half of 2020, the Georgia Center for Opportunity – an organization committed to removing the barriers that are holding people back from reaching their full potential – tapped former Gwinnett County Commissioner Jace Brooks to mobilize partners and create support for the thousands of residents who were out of work, many of them homeless. Brooks’ first task was to get the right people to the table to form a collective commitment to removing barriers and improving accessibility to meaningful work for Gwinnett residents. That collaborative became Better Work Gwinnett (BWG).
- The BWG collaborative grew from a handful of partners to more than 25 organizations, and businesses focused on tackling and removing the roadblocks to stable employment for many residents.
- Partners formed an ecosystem of support for job seekers to address and resolve barriers such as housing, transportation, mental health, criminal backgrounds, and lack of childcare.
- Mentoring and soft skills development were added as strategies to improve job acquisition and retention rates once the initial barriers have been addressed.
During its first year, several virtual job fairs were held, and in October, they sponsored a drive-through job fair that, despite bad weather, had more than 600 job seekers.
- Gwinnett Technical College
- Goodwill of Northeast Georgia
- Georgia Gwinnett College
- WorkSource Georgia
Searching for a job can be overwhelming. BWG is simplifying it with initiatives such as an agreement with several employers to guarantee an interview for applicants based on how they answer questions.
“The people who went through this job fair were hurting; they needed help. We were able to really impact those who came through.”
– JACE BROOKS, Former Gwinnett Co. Commissioner
When Workforce Works is an opportunity to tell and highlight successful workforce programs, projects, and initiatives from the MAIP Partner network. These aren’t just any stories about workforce programs, but stories of programs that really get it right – putting industry first, engaging career seekers, and developing deep partnerships – the workforce “secret sauce”.