ConnectOC Blog

Job Training Builds a Bridge to the Future

Posted by: Connect OC on 3/9/2016
Local employers struggle with a shortage of skilled workers to fill an abundance of open jobs while the young adults of central Orange County cope with dismal employment opportunities. Could the solution to two of the most vexing problems facing our local economy converge to change the face of Anaheim? If the nearly 5,500 unemployed, undereducated and low-skilled youth Taller San Jose Hope Builders has helped move out of poverty since 1995 are any indication, the novel solution to self-reliance lies in job and life-skills training. It’s a principle of social enterprise that Greg Palmer built his successful three-decade career in the staffing industry on – and it’s a form of investment that he and his wife Sally adhere to as philanthropists. Now the missions of Hope Builders and the Palmer Family Foundation Fund are uniting to multiply workforce development opportunities as part of ACT Anaheim.

With support from generous donors, including a $50,000 grant from the Palmer Family Foundation Fund, Hope Builders is expanding services into Anaheim as part of its ACT Anaheim efforts. This will allow Hope Builders to double the number of job trainees in its program to 700 annually. The Santa Ana-based organization has largely served Santa Ana youth since its inception and is now expanding services into Anaheim where there exists a significant unmet need.

“The program and the model works,” Greg Palmer said, explaining the motivation behind their investment. “Hope Builders’ ability to provide training, support, jobs and meaningful wages has been proven over many years of refining its model. It only makes sense to expand with its track record. About 80 percent of all students are still working three years after training ends.”

“We’re grateful the Palmers have faith in our ability to start something new,” Shawna Smith, chief executive officer, Hope Builders said. “We’re able to provide these services to young people because of their generosity. Together, we’re changing lives. Many of the people we serve are young parents, and we’re altering the trajectory of their families.”

“With increased skills and experience, the students – and their families – benefit by being able to work at higher-paying jobs than they would otherwise,” Palmer said. “In addition, the community wins by finding great talent who have been fully screened, trained and tested to fill jobs that are very difficult to fill adequately today. It’s your classic win-win.”
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