Yuma, AZ (November 2, 2022) – New resources are being made available to help long-term unemployed individuals, dislocated workers, and workers impacted by the pandemic. Through a federal grant, workers will have access to skills training, career pathways, and job opportunities. As part of this initiative, Arizona Western College is delivering on the needs of its communities through workforce development and partnerships in Arizona.

The Department of Labor awarded the $15 million grant to Arizona Quality Jobs, Equity, Strategy, and Training (QUEST), a statewide coalition that includes the Arizona Commerce Authority, six community colleges and Arizona@Work. The collaborative initiative will serve six local workforce development areas including the counties of Cochise, Maricopa, Mohave/La Paz, Pima, Yavapai, and Yuma.

Arizona Western College and the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, which is housed at the Arizona Commerce Authority, were central participants in securing the grant. Reetika Dhawan, Arizona Western College Vice President for Workforce Development and Career and Technical Education, and Nidia Herrera, Yuma Private Industry Council Executive Director, will be the Co-Principal Investigators for this grant.

“As jobs expand in our state, we are dedicated to ensuring that all workers have the opportunity to fully participate in the workforce,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “As the pandemic displaced workers, the ACA along with our partners in industry, academia, workforce development and more stepped in to provide critical employment support services. These dollars will allow us to redouble those efforts and help more people find employment that enables them to thrive.”

Dr. Daniel Corr, President of Arizona Western College, added, “AWC is proud to have taken a lead role in partnership with Arizona Commerce Authority in securing this grant.  As one of 10 community college districts around the state poised to provide workforce development and help workers rebound, AWC is very proud to have played an integral role in the dynamic expansion of Arizona’s economy in recent years. These funds will provide an opportunity for thousands of more Arizonans to prepare for high-wage, high-skill jobs, through your community colleges.”

Who will qualify?
The Arizona QUEST program will focus on individuals separated from employment and marginalized individuals including those who lack a secondary diploma, those in poverty, English Language Learners, disconnected youth (16-24), migrant workers, Native Americans, individuals in rural areas, persons who have interacted with the criminal justice system, veterans, and disabled persons.

Eligibility criteria will also include:

  • Individuals temporarily or permanently laid off as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Long-term unemployed individuals;
  • Dislocated workers; and
  • Self-employed individuals who became unemployed or significantly underemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What industries will be targeted?
The Arizona QUEST program will focus on preparing dislocated workers for jobs in high-demand fields such as healthcare, manufacturing, and professional and business services such as legal, accounting, computer systems design and more.

What programs will be deployed?
Funding will be used to strategically strengthen and expand partnerships between ARIZONA@WORK, industry, and community colleges.

Types of programs supported will include:

  • Tuition assistance,
  • Career pathways,
  • Job search and placement assistance,
  • Apprenticeships,
  • Support services and referrals, and
  • Job fairs and recruitment events.

For more information about workforce support in Arizona or to connect with a specialist in your area, visit: arizonaatwork.com.