University Leaders Outline Strategies to Create Career Opportunities for the Community

Aerial view of the Rotunda and surrounding area with storm clouds and a yellow sunset behind it

The University of Virginia’s Pipelines and Pathways Working Group spent more than a year exploring the barriers that community members face in seeking employment at UVA. In February, the group, which is affiliated with the President’s Council on UVA-Community Partnerships, presented its recommendations.

This month, President Jim Ryan and his administration responded to those recommendations, outlining specific actions that could be taken almost immediately, while also looking ahead at other recommendations that might be implemented down the road.

The University leaders – including Ryan, Chief Operating Officer Jennifer “J.J.” Wagner Davis and Chief Human Resources Officer John Kosky – outlined four focus areas and steps to create new opportunities for employment and job advancement for community members, especially those from historically disadvantaged communities.

  • The University will create a Community Connections Hub to find local talent for entry-level positions at UVA. The hub would include a web portal for job postings that have no formal degree requirement or require less than two years of prior experience. The program will have a three-year pilot to evaluate its effectiveness.
  • A team of career coaches will be developed to assist employees in traversing their career paths across Grounds. The career coaches will offer individual advising on open opportunities that align with an employee’s career interests and assistance in preparing for the interview process.
  • Training will be prepared to educate managers on new career resources and their role in improving access to opportunities at the University.
  • Education requirements for entry-level job postings within the University will be reviewed by Human Resources to confirm that they are appropriate for the role’s responsibilities.

Implementation of these major themes will begin next month.

“I’m grateful to the members of the Pipelines and Pathways Working Group, especially co-chairs Ridge Schuyler and Martha Trujillo, for their terrific work on the group’s report,” Ryan said. “I’m also grateful to J.J. Davis, John Kosky and their teams for the rigor they brought to the task of responding to the recommendations. As we look toward the implementation phase, this process has shown all of us what we can accomplish when UVA works with community partners to create opportunities for our neighbors and our employees.”

Schuyler, who serves as dean of community self-sufficiency programs for Piedmont Virginia Community College and UVA President’s Council Liaison and as group co-chair for the Pipelines and Pathways Working Group, said the strategies could have a major impact.

“Nearly 60 years ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, he was addressing a ‘March for Jobs and Freedom’; for truly equal access to economic opportunity,” Schuyler said. “With the implementation of our recommendations, the University is opening the door wider for those historically left behind, doing great by unleashing untapped potential and doing good by improving the lives of families in our community.”

Convened by Ryan in 2020, the Pipelines and Pathways Working Group works closely with UVA Human Resources to find opportunities to smooth the path to employment at UVA. Already, the HR team has made positive changes to facilitate hiring and employment at the University. These include translating the UVA Workday and HR websites into several languages and UVA Health’s recent expansion of “learn while you earn” opportunities for clinical roles such as pharmacy technicians and emergency medical technicians.

Other suggestions from the Pipelines and Pathways Working Group that are being considered for longer-term implementation include increased access to affordable child care, increased apprenticeship opportunities and UVA Edge Scholarship incentives for new hires.

“We are deeply grateful for the tremendous effort and incredible thoughtfulness that members of the working group put into the development of their report,” Ryan, Davis and Kosky wrote in their response. “This work will make a difference in enabling the University to connect members of the local community with employment opportunities and to help them to grow in their careers with UVA.”

More information on the work and mission of the Pipelines and Pathways Working Group can be found on the President’s Council for UVA-Community Partnerships website.

 

 

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Bethanie Glover

Deputy University Spokesperson