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Approximately 20 students graduated from Jewish Vocational Services’ (JVS) BankWorks class on Jan. 16 during a ceremony that was attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The graduation was part of JVS’ effort to link people who are out of work with good paying jobs in the community. For the BankWorks program, JVS partners with seven banks to train students, as well as to offer job placement. The partners include Wells Fargo, Bank of America, U.S Bank, Union Bank, Citibank, City National Bank and Pacific Western Bank.
The BankWorks classes are held at different locations in Los Angeles, but recently the course has been held at the JVS offices in the Jewish Federation Headquarters, located at 6505 Wilshire Blvd. According to Susan Meadows, manager of the BankWorks program, there is a dire need for training.
“I get about 500 phone calls every three months when we hold this program from people who are trying to get in the class,” Meadows said. “There is definitely a need, and the banks always have openings. It’s a fabulous relationship, they need tellers and we have people who need work.”
Meadows said the program can only accommodate approximately 20 people for each course, and the courses are held every three months and last eight weeks. She said students learn all of the basics of working in a bank, and although many students start out as tellers, many move up to management positions. She said the program currently has an 85 percent placement rate, and approximately 75 percent of the students retain employment at one location for at least six months. Meadows said the only requirement for enrolling in the program is that the student must be 18 years old, and have a high school diploma or GED.
“We get people of all ages,” Meadows said. “Clients go through an assessment, and training period that is very strenuous. We do that because we present the banks with the people we feel will be the best hires for them.”
Catherine Moore, the communications director for JVS, said BankWorks is one of the most successful and sought after programs offered by JVS. It is funded by money received through a federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) High-Growth Sector Training Grant, as well as other sources. The City of Los Angeles has also provided more than $1.2 million for JVS programs.
“The BankWorks program is an example of public-private partnerships at its best,” Villaraigosa said. “This partnership is helping Angelenos from all walks of life overcome barriers to employment and get on to a path of self sufficiency.”
At the graduation, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation also presented a $50,000 grant to JVS for BankWorks.
“Bank of America recognizes that our nation’s economy is dependent upon local job growth for recovery,” said Barry Simmons, a regional executive from Bank of America. “That is why nonprofits like JVS and its job-preparation programs like BankWorks are so important to help stimulate the local economy and improve the quality of life for Angelenos re-entering the workforce.”
JVS CEO Vivian B. Seigel added that without the help of the partners, and government funding, the organization would not be able to provide the service.
“Without the direct involvement of our partners in every aspect of the program, we would not be seeing the same results in terms of placement and retention,” Seigel said. “BankWorks attracts a wide diversity of people facing barriers to employment and along with JVS’ other training programs in the health care and green technology fields, offers the expertise and resources to put Angelenos back to work.”
For information on the BankWorks program, call Meadows at (310)273-6633 ext. 241. Or visit www.jvsla.org.
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