The Live Well Erie Workforce Development Pilot Project (“the Project”) is a comprehensive approach designed to help individuals receiving social service benefits overcome workforce barriers and transition into higher-paying job opportunities. Many employees entering the workforce face a “benefit cliff” as their earnings increase, causing them to exceed eligibility limits for a variety of public programs and hindering their career path. Supplemental supports will be provided to help employees enrolled in the Project meet family needs for food, housing, childcare, healthcare and more to help these individuals overcome these “benefit cliff” workforce barriers and reach higher-paying job opportunities.
“Workforce development is an ongoing need in Erie County, with many sectors of the economy searching for workers. This pilot Project will help individuals overcome barriers to better employment, with supports for them to access along the way, with the goal of them ultimately needing fewer or no services as they build into a better-paying career,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “This pilot would not be possible without the assistance of strong and committed partners, such as the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Buffalo Wire Works, Rosina Foods, Goodwill of WNY, and others who understand the real and negative effects the benefit cliff has on workers as well as businesses. Together we are working to better our residents’ lives and strengthen our economy.”
Workforce Development programs fill the demand for durable skills with industry-aligned, community-based training. Programs such as Goodwill’s Goodskills Career Builder will be complemented through technical assistance and evaluation, career coaching to ensure job placement, and career advancement support to overcome workforce advancement barriers. The program will also work closely with the Department of Social Services PIVOT program, Workforce Investment Board, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, private sector businesses and other community partners to provide additional resources that will support career advancement.
“Navigating benefit cliffs remains one of the largest barriers to individuals seeking higher wages and career progression in Western New York. Goodwill is proud to partner with Erie County on implementing this innovative initiative focused on reimagining social services in a way that empowers workers to mitigate the impact of these cliffs on their journey to sustainable wages and benefits,” said Thomas Ulbrich, President and CEO, Goodwill of Western New York.
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