Employ Prince George’s launched Career Pathways for All (CPFA) in order to help improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce. (Courtesy Photo)

By Carl Thomas
Special to the AFRO

A group of local leaders are piloting a new angle to economic empowerment through workforce development, by using Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) with a program called Career Pathways for All (CPFA).

Workforce Development is a regionally focused approach to economic stability and prosperity centered around the development of the human resource of a community as opposed to its businesses.  As both the need for and popularity for workforce development has grown, so too has the scope of the programming being offered. 

Today, many program options stretch far beyond just job training to more holistic services, focused on helping the individual improve as many aspects of their lives as possible. Historically, workforce development has occurred in one of two ways: Location-based strategies that attempt to address the needs of people living in a particular neighborhood; and/or Sector-based strategies that focus on matching workers’ skills to needs in an industry already present in the region. 

According to the Maryland Department of Labor, one in seven Marylanders were born in a country other than the United States. More than half (51.2 percent) of Marylanders born in another country are U.S. citizens. In Prince George’s County, 21.7 percent of residents were born outside of the country, the unemployment rate hovers at eight percent, and processing just under 40,000 unemployment claims every week has local leaders seeking additional solutions for workforce development.

One of these such solutions is coming via the CPFA program through Employ Prince George’s (EPG). 

“According to the press release, Employ Prince George’s mission is to provide premier workforce development services and to contribute to the economic vitality of Prince George’s County by providing a demand-driven system that delivers qualified workers to businesses and provides job seekers with opportunities for careers in high demand/high growth industries. EPG is centrally focused on reaching as many Prince George’s residents as possible and when analyzing the data, there was a glaring hole. 

Career Pathways for All “introduces a new diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) approach to economic development while meeting the needs of the international talent pool in a local area,” according to a press release submitted from EPG.

The ethnic composition consists primarily of Hispanic/Latinx, Asian, two or more races, and those marked as other.

“We observed that even though a large percentage of immigrants were in low-paying jobs, a relatively small percentage of the people we served in our job centers were immigrants. Upon review, we realized that this huge population in Prince George’s County does not visit our American Job Centers due to discomfort communicating with staff who do not speak their language, the perception that our programs were not suited for their needs, and a strong attachment to the community and a location familiar to them,” said President and CEO of EPG Walter Simmons.

Career Pathways For All is designed to bridge the employment gap for immigrant, refugee, asylee, and English language learning populations with one-on-one case management, extensive supportive services, and skills training to obtain livable wage careers.

“The competitive edge that our Career Pathways for All Program will provide to Prince George’s County’s immigrant population will empower this community with the ability to compete for more rewarding jobs in their chosen specialization and careers,” said Simmons. “A simple conversation with American Job Center Career Counselors can open many doors. We’re happy to now be able to provide hard-working residents in Prince George’s County the opportunity to earn a livable wage.”

If interested in enrolling in CPFA or for more information regarding Employ Prince George’s services and offerings, please visit www.EmployPG.org/CPFA.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!