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Hundreds of immigrants attend first day of Denver's Work Ready program

WorkReady, which is part of the Denver Asylum Seekers Program (DASP), will provide individuals a path to work authorization and access to education, training and employment opportunities.
WorkReady Program
Posted at 4:18 PM, Jun 13, 2024

DENVER — The City of Denver on Thursday officially launched its Work Ready initiative to help immigrants enter the workforce.

The program is part of Denver's Asylum Seeker Program (DASP), which Mayor Mike Johnston announced back in April. It aims to provide individuals with a path to work authorization and access to education, training and employment opportunities. According to the city, at least one member of each family enrolled in DASP was required to be part of the WorkReady program.

Back in May, the Denver City Council approved a $2,250,000 contract between the city and Centro de Los Trabajadores (Center for Workers) to build a pipeline that funnels talent into jobs experiencing significant labor shortages.

On Wednesday, hundreds of newcomers attended the first day of WorkDay's launch at Community College of Denver.

WorkReady Denver

"Today is a welcoming to explain to them what the program is about, the delivery of their laptops for soft skills, computer training, that were given by a donation by AT&T, which they were very generous to give a laptop to every single participant. And then we're going to have our first cultural integration," said Mayra Juárez-Denis, executive director for Centro De Los Trabajadores.

Jorby Piña, an asylum seeker from Venezuela, was among the participants. He told Denver7 his goals in the United States are to get an education and become a chef.

"I want to be a professional, someone in life," he said in Spanish. “[I'm] thankful for Denver for all the help and all the benefits they’re offering."

Laptop Donation from AT&T
The city of Denver said AT&T donated laptops to all new immigrants who are enrolled in the city's WorkReady program.

"We are the only worker center that is doing this with the city," added Juárez-Denis. "And this is so important for our community, that institutions across sectors are coming together, able to do a model that is based on the workers."

Juárez-Denis said the first phase involves teaching immigrants soft skills, while the second phase is industry-oriented. She said they'll be with the participants every step of the way to prepare them with all the tools they need to be able to obtain jobs.

Adeeb Khan, executive director for Denver's Economic Development and Opportunity, said the collaboration is aimed at helping provide education, coursework, and credentialing to allow people to get into gainful employment and become self-sufficient.

"We have a lot of, kind of the basic life skill training happening now," said Khan. "At the initial part of the program, individuals will be learning the English language. They'll be able to gain some integration training. There's some GED coursework for those who need it. And then we'll move into more industry credentialing and certification programs."

Khan added that it's also a step towards addressing the labor shortages across many industries.

"We feel very confident with the industry partners we have, with the industry credentialing and the training we're offering, and the opportunity to get folks in with employers, that many of those individuals will be able to acquire jobs very quickly as soon as work authorization comes through," said Khan.

Classes will take place Mondays through Thursdays. Newcomers in the program will participate in around 20 hours of curriculum each week for the next six months. The goal is for all 350 participants to have jobs by January.

"They're excited, they are hopeful," added Juárez-Denis. "One of them told me, 'This feels like I've been treated with respect, and I don't want to cause any trouble here. I don't want to be a burden anymore because that's not what I come for. I come to work and give a better life to my family.'"

Hundreds of immigrants attend first day of Denver's Work Ready program

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