A new Workforce Technology Pilot is addressing resident need as both industry and the pandemic continue the shift towards a digital society. Purchasing a home computer with an integrated webcam and microphone is an expense that many APAH households are unable to spare, which makes applying to jobs online or participating in a virtual interview a challenge. The program loans Google Chromebooks to residents across APAH’s portfolio to support them with their virtual journey towards employment.
And, it’s already making a difference. In the first weeks of 2022 alone, a Gilliam Place resident received a job offer after using one of the Chromebooks to apply for the position; another resident was accepted to a training program. These exciting milestones for APAH residents showcase how imperative it is to eliminate the digital divide in our communities, especially considering the job loss experienced due to the pandemic. Together, we are creating opportunity for digital inclusion for all.
By lending these laptops, the program provides residents with access to technology from the comfort of their homes and leads to greater flexibility. Parents can complete job searches and applications late at night after their child has gone to bed and public resources like the library are closed. Interviews can be conducted from the kitchen table, where the resident is comfortable and feels confident. Job searches and applications can span days and not be tied to a single session. This pilot is another resource for residents and will complement other public services like the business center at the public library. Residents can borrow a Chromebook for up to 2 weeks, depending on their specific need. Loans are also offered for residents who are completing online courses to advance their careers or education.
Disparities in digital equity, like access to high-speed broadband internet and personal laptops, are topics that APAH has been working to address for the past decade, but the pandemic has further highlighted this digital divide, and increased the need to create solutions to help all neighbors succeed.