The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation hosted a kickoff event on May 3 to launch a new initiative, Connect to Work AZ, powered by Skills for America’s Future. The jobs-first program will help unemployed and underemployed individuals from underserved communities connect with careers in healthcare and financial services.

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Todd Sanders, President & CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber discussed why the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation is investing in this program, how it will help Valley businesses improve their bottom line, and its positive impacts on the community.

“Across Arizona, people look for quality jobs and employers look for qualified people,” said Sanders. “Often, they struggle to connect. This program aims to eliminate those barriers and get more Arizonans connected to quality, high-demand jobs with opportunities for advancement. It’s the first of its kind in Arizona and we’re very excited to be involved.”

Connect to Work AZ is designed to place unemployed, individuals working less than 32 hours a week, or individuals outside of their field of training into jobs. The initiative is especially focused on connecting diverse talent to local employers to help employers fill hiring needs and better reflect the communities they serve, as well as help individuals obtain quality employment through a career path. The program will be a partnership between the Greater Phoenix Chamber and Skills for America’s Future, which through its affiliate sites has helped place thousands of diverse candidates into jobs in Chicago and Rhode Island over the last 10 years.

According to the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the healthcare industry employs over 280,000 people in Maricopa County through over 8,000 employers and 198,000 people in finance through over 6,000 employers. Starting wages for workers in these industries are usually at or above the county median wage and offer opportunities for advancement.

In 2022, the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity reported that healthcare and social assistance is the number one industry in Arizona by number of employees and is projected to continue to grow by as much as 4.9% through 2023 and finance and insurance is expected to grow by 3.9% over the next two years in Arizona.

“This is a great day because Connect to Work AZ, powered by Skills for America’s Future, can now play an additive role in Arizona’s local workforce system by helping people obtain quality jobs and helping employers fill critical hiring needs,” said Daniel Cervantes, SVP of national expansion and strategic initiatives at Skills for America’s Future. “The team at the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation have been fantastic to work with, and I’m excited to see their hard work in action to help Arizonans obtain jobs and build their futures.”

Connect to Work AZ offers a variety of jobs and career pathways. Employers are committed to offering good jobs with opportunities for advancement, benefits, and in some cases, tuition assistance or other employer-paid training. Phoenix Children’s, Dignity Health, and Northern Trust are the first business partners and Valley of the Sun United Way is serving as a key community partner.

“Phoenix Children’s is committed to providing the highest quality care to our patients and their families, which we do best through an engaged, highly qualified, and diverse workforce,” said Kety Duron, Chief Human Resources Officer for Phoenix Children’s. “This initiative will help us deliver on our mission to advance hope, healing, and the best healthcare for children in our community, especially as we get ready to open a new emergency department and two new hospitals in the coming months.”

“Valley of the Sun United Way is proud to lead the MC2026 Workforce Development Coalition with the goals of increasing preparation for livable-wage jobs and the achievement of higher-paying employment for individuals throughout Maricopa County,” said Carla Vargas Jasa, President and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way. “These collaborative partnerships and the launch of Connect to Work AZ are essential for helping us to realize these goals, creating a positive impact on individuals and families in our community.”

Employers that work with Connect to Work AZ commit to considering a diverse, qualified talent pool, offering a career pathway to advance over time, and other benefits that promote economic mobility. Financial industry employers will offer entry-level jobs, with some positions requiring only some college or no college but other transferable skills. Healthcare employers are currently offering clinical and non-clinical positions with ranging experience and certification requirements. Positions may include roles assisting with hospital operations and maintaining patient care.

For more information on Connect to Work AZ, please visit: