University of Chicago forms new partnerships to support local hiring

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Conference launches second phase of UChicago Local; deputy labor secretary Chris Lu to deliver keynote address

The University of Chicago paid out more than $230 million in salaries to mid-South Side residents in fiscal 2014, according to data released today at the UChicago Local Workforce Conference 2014. Mid-South Side residents account for about one-third of the 18,800 staff employees at the University and the University of Chicago Medicine.

The conference and the reporting of employment impact data mark the second phase of the UChicago Local initiative, which was launched by the Office of Civic Engagement in March to help expand economic opportunities in mid-South Side neighborhoods. The first phase focused on supporting local businesses.

UChicago released the report as it builds on efforts at the University and medical center to help local job seekers. More than 63 percent of UChicago staff live within the city of Chicago, accounting for nearly $580 million in wages and investing in the local economy. The data does not include University faculty.

“The University of Chicago is committed to working with our surrounding communities and with organizations across the city to spur economic opportunity,” said Robert J. Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago. “As a major employer in the city of Chicago and the largest employer on the South Side, we will continue to support economic growth while helping identify and prepare new sources of talent to fill vital roles across our campus, as well as with our local business partners.”

Through UChicago Local, the Office of Civic Engagement is working with two Chicago-based nonprofit organizations, the Chicago Jobs Council and the 741 Collaborative Partnership, on new partnerships designed to help workforce development agencies better serve local job seekers. Today’s workforce conference, created in partnership with the Chicago Jobs Council and Chapin Hall, is intended to bring together workforce development practitioners and scholars to discuss how trends in the national workforce landscape connect to workforce development issues in Chicago.

Chris Lu, deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor, will deliver a keynote address to more than 200 frontline workforce development professionals during the daylong conference at the Embassy Suites Downtown Lakefront, 511 N. Columbus Drive.

UChicago will also work with the Chicago Jobs Council to provide training for workforce development professionals who interact directly with mid-South Side residents seeking employment.

“As a collective voice on anti-poverty issues, the Chicago Jobs Council is eager to partner with the University of Chicago on this exciting training partnership,” said Ellen Johnson, director of Frontline Focus, the Chicago Jobs Council’s training program. “Building the capacity of workforce development providers not only increases the quality of services for low-income and marginalized job seekers, but ensures employers have access to a qualified pool of employees.”

A new referral partnership with the 741 Collaborative, a consortium of 10 workforce development agencies, will provide agencies with a single point of contact for information on job opportunities at the University and medical center. UChicago will also help 741 members build relationships with their vendors and with other mid-South Side employers, and will employ two UChicago student interns to support their work.

“The University of Chicago is an important source of job opportunities for the community residents served by our collaborative partners, and it can also be a resource for connecting our partners to other employers within its network,” said Andre Kellum, interim executive director for 741. “This new partnership will give our agencies and local job seekers access to more opportunities, while providing local employers with a reliable referral source for high-quality candidates.”

Richard Iorio, UChicago’s vice president for Human Resources, added, “Human capital is essential to advancing the mission of the University and building its institutional capacity. We have a great resource right in our own backyard, and these new efforts will help us better access and leverage local talent.”

UChicago Local focuses on the mid-South Side neighborhoods of Douglas, Grand Boulevard, Greater Grand Crossing, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakland, Washington Park, Woodlawn and South Shore.

“Employment of local residents plays a large role in the University’s commitment to supporting strong neighborhoods,” said Derek Douglas, vice president for Civic Engagement. “The UChicago Local Workforce Conference is an extension of our partnerships with area workforce development agencies to support local hiring, while leveraging industry expertise and the University’s scholarship to advance the conversation around workforce practices across the city.”

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