Barclaycard creating new opportunities in Las Vegas
Famous for its casinos, dazzling lights, and for setting Elvis’s soul on fire, most of us think of Las Vegas as a vibrant place that makes or breaks fortunes, and sees newly-weds party alongside soon-to-be weds.
But there’s more to the bright light city than meets the eye. Step off the Strip and into the surrounding neighbourhood and there’s a serious social problem among the community when it comes to unemployment and young people not in education. Across the state of Nevada, 10% of 16-to 19-year olds are unemployed and not in school. Known as the ‘disconnected youth’, these youngsters need support and encouragement to get back on their feet and into the world of work. That’s where Barclaycard and Tech Impact – a non-profit organisation out to empower communities through technology – come in.
Making a nation-wide difference
Barclaycard and Tech Impact first joined forces on the Eastern side of the US, when Barclaycard was looking for referrals for its IT apprenticeship program that targets young adults in Delaware. Since 2013, the partnership has grown to include Barclaycard hosting soft-skill training sessions, providing mentors and hiring grads into the Apprentice Program.
So, when Tech Impact decided to expand to Nevada, home to one of Barclaycard’s three contact centres and some of the highest volumes of contact centres in the US, with a view to launch a similar program, extending the partnership out west was a no-brainer. Because of the number of contact centres competing for top talent, finding the right people for the job can be tricky. So, Barclaycard and Tech Impact created a way to help alleviate the number of unemployed youngsters and bring a new set of talented colleagues into the Henderson contact centre. That’s when the CXWorks program was born.
CXWorks is a free workforce development program with a clear mission: to train young Las Vegans in the art of customer service and get them ready for a position once they graduate. For eight weeks, they become full-time students, heading back to the classroom to learn the skills they need to make it as customer service pros: phone etiquette, problem solving and communication to name a few. It’s changing the community on multiple levels, giving young people – some who’ve migrated from war-torn countries, others who don’t speak native English and those that simply haven’t been able to break into the world of work – the opportunity to succeed.
“We have students with all sorts of backgrounds” says Cami Lewis, Community Manager at the Tech Impact Las Vegas Opportunity Centre. “Some are dealing with a number of issues in their personal lives, but we’ve seen real examples of how the program can have a transformative effect for those who are able to see it through.”
From siblings to whole families, Las Vegas natives to newcomers, the new opportunities being offered are boosting communities and helping Nevada contact centres introduce some highly skilled people into their workforce. It’s a win-win situation.
All in a day’s work
Barclaycard colleagues from the Henderson contact centre helped co-create the curriculum for the CXWorks program, identifying what skills were required and how they would be taught. But that’s not where their involvement ended. Colleagues have since become mentors, hosting weekly skills sessions and professional days to give students as genuine a contact centre experience as possible. It gives them a taste of the high-paced nature of the work and a flavour of the Barclaycard environment too. Colleagues are there to congratulate the students on their graduation day, giving pep talks and motivating them to keep achieving great things.
The mentors even keep a close eye on the new recruits once they’ve joined the Barclaycard family, regularly checking in with their team managers to make sure they’re happy and successful. “They’re really dedicated to the community,” says Grace Harpole, Director of Programs, Tech Impact. “Working with Barclaycard both in Wilmington and in Henderson, we’ve seen first-hand their commitment to the community and to do what’s right.”
Barclaycard interviews every student before hiring some, if not all, of the newly qualified grads. And although adding to the contact centre team is a plus for the business, for colleagues involved, the aim of the program is much greater. “Whether the students are hired by us or not, our focus is to make sure all the students gain more skills and that they have choices to help them into a career,” explains DeAndre Esteen, Community Relations, Barclaycard US. “Because when they walk through the door on the first day of the program, they have no job opportunities. Our goal is to make sure that they get as much from the program as possible.”
It’s a partnership in every sense of the word, because everyone benefits from what the program is trying to accomplish – the community, the young people and Barclaycard’s contact centre.
A fortune earned
From nervous newbies to self-assured alumni, the program’s fifth cohort of students have just graduated and are heading on to start their new customer-service careers in a handful of Nevada-based contact centres. “These young people, some of whom have families, others who are on their own in the US and some who work part-time jobs already, take a chance on the program,” says Heather Craig, Community Investment, Barclaycard US. “They’re sacrificing their time to learn new skills to better themselves. How can you not admire each and every one of them for going through this process and taking a chance at a new life?”
There’s a long way still to go to help the entire community of young adults in Las Vegas into jobs, but for the 45 CXWorks graduates so far, Las Vegas is not just a city of bright lights, it’s also a city that holds a brighter future.