20 Aug 2014
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Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, Divvy and Gap Inc. Announce First-of-Its-Kind Seasonal Talent-Sharing Initiative for Unemployed Cook County Job Seekers

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future—a public-private partnership working to match businesses that have current, unmet hiring needs with qualified, unemployed job seekers—announced today a new partnership with Divvy, operated by Alta Bicycle Share, and Gap Inc. that will bring year-round employment opportunities to unemployed Chicago and Cook County job seekers. Launching in April, the innovative “Optimum Employment” pilot program will creatively solve the challenges businesses face with hiring qualified, seasonal employees by linking seasonal positions at Divvy and Gap Inc. stores to create a 12-month employment opportunity for the unemployed.

“Skills for Chicagoland’s Future continues to innovate new ways to assist the long-term unemployed through a public-private partnership that is a win for businesses, for job seekers, and for the City,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Optimum Employment provides job certainty for workers with two outstanding Chicago companies.”

Developed by Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, Optimum Employment is a first-of-its-kind talent-sharing pilot solution for businesses seeking a dependable pipeline of qualified seasonal workers, while providing job seekers with predictable, long-term employment. For eight months (March-October), candidates will be employed as Divvy rebalancers, supporting bicycle distribution throughout Chicago during the program’s peak months. Then, for four months (October-February), candidates will work as logistics associates at local stores, assisting with shipment, pricing, replenishment and selling during the peak holiday season. Unemployed individuals in the pilot group will begin employment at Divvy in late-April.

“Optimum Employment establishes an entirely new way to address long-term unemployment by linking two company positions into one year-round role,” said Marie Trzupek Lynch, president and CEO of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future. “It’s good for the unemployed and it’s good for businesses. Employers and employees want and need the stability that comes with uninterrupted, predictable year-round work. Optimum Employment delivers that stability.”

The Optimum Employment program is the latest example of the consultative, demand-driven approach Skills for Chicagoland’s Future applies to workforce development. The organization meets with employers to learn their unique hiring needs and then develops customized hiring solutions to help them fill open positions with Chicago and Cook County residents who are unemployed and looking for work.

Skills for Chicagoland’s Future will recruit and prescreen qualified, unemployed Chicago and Cook County residents to be considered for the pilot program. Divvy human resources representatives will interview the candidates first for employment beginning in April. Once they secure a job with Divvy, candidates will then interview with Gap Inc. for potential employment at one of the company’s stores in October 2014. Candidates hired by Divvy will only convert to Gap Inc. hires after successfully completing their employment with Divvy and must also pass Gap Inc.’s application process.

"We are excited to expand our partnership with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future by signing on to this innovative approach to continuous seasonal workforce development,” said Charlene White, program manager, Gap Inc. for Community Colleges. “By partnering with a strong local employer like Divvy that has similar skill set needs as us, we can look forward to a consistent pipeline of talent for our peak-season hiring needs.”

By pairing two positions in disparate fields but with overlapping qualifications, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future has developed a replicable approach that can be adapted to a wide variety of seasonal employers. As such, SCF is already exploring additional partnerships with other seasonal employers in the Chicago area to support expanding Optimum Employment opportunities in this region. Pending the pilot program’s success locally, the partnership has the potential to expand nationally to the seven metropolitan areas where both Alta and Gap operate: Boston; New York; Chicago; Columbus, OH; San Francisco Bay Area, CA; Washington, DC and Melbourne, AU. 

”We’ve seen phenomenal results from our partnership with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, which helped us hire talented job seekers when we launched a whole new transit system last summer,” said Elliot Greenberger, general manager of Divvy. “Skills for Chicagoland's Future developed this pilot once they recognized that bike share reduces operations in the winter just as retail picks up for the holidays. From our side, we're not only excited about the prospect of retaining talent from year to year, but also about offering our rebalancers employment options when we scale down.”

Unemployed job seekers interested in the pilot program are encouraged to apply now at www.scfjobs.com for positions to begin in late-April. To be considered for the Optimum Employment program, candidates must be currently unemployed and reside in Cook County. 

Chicago-area employers interested in meeting with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future to learn more about their customized hiring solutions can contact biz@skillsforchicagoland.com or visit www.skillsforchicagolandsfuture.com.

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