World Business Chicago has partnered with the Westside Ministerial Alliance, Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, and various workforce centers throughout Chicago to develop targeted workforce outreach strategies for under-represented neighborhoods and to support employers in their hiring initiatives that will connect individuals who have been historically disadvantaged with equitable employment opportunities.

Federal Census data is showing higher rates of unemployment in the West side communities of Austin, East Garfield Park and West Garfield Park, and North Lawndale. These levels of unemployment lead to high numbers of people living in poverty.

Austin East Garfield Park West Garfield Park North Lawndale
Unemployment Rate 15.4% 18.5% 20.0% 19.9%
Poverty Rate 30.3% 47.3% 42.8% 44.8%

High unemployment and poverty do not mean that community members are uneducated – there is a broad range of education levels in each of these communities. Nearly half of the population in each community has some type of college education, and many people have a college degree or higher level of education.

Austin East Garfield Park West Garfield Park North Lawndale
Less than High School Graduate 21.3% 21.5% 27.6% 24.9%
High School Graduate or Equivalency 35.1% 34.0% 37.1% 30.3%
Associate’s Degree or Some College 29.6% 29.9% 30.3% 32.9%
Bachelor’s Degree or Higher 14.2% 14.6% 5.0% 11.9%

Moreover, a recent survey of job posting data shows that there are employment options for each level of education. For example, many manufacturing jobs require a 9th grade math competency and 5 months of training. Today, we see job postings for positions in sales, IT, office administration, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, and food industry.

To connect people with jobs and training opportunities, the Alliance is developing outreach strategies to help individuals connect with workforce agencies and training programs – several, of which, have been active participants of this targeted outreach initiative, are listed below.  These West Side agencies help prepare individuals for, and connect them to, career opportunities, and they work with employers to design innovative solutions to address business needs. For more information please reach out to Robye Scott, Manager of Workforce Development at World Business Chicago.

West Side Neighborhood Organizations/ Workforce Agencies & Programs
Austin Coming Together
Central States SER
North Lawndale Employment Network
Safer Foundation
West Side Health Authority
West Side Forward
Lawndale Christian Legal Center
FBCC DevCorp
Boys and Girls Club
Communities Empowered Through Construction
Breakthrough Ministries
KRA – Chicago Westside American Job Center
Hope Works Community Development
Manufacturing Renaissance
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