IKEA Retail US Returns $1.4 Million in Unemployment Payments That Will Fund Work Skills Training

IKEA Retail U.S. will return
to Massachusetts $1,393,437 million used to pay unemployment benefits of
previously furloughed employees, which will fund skill development and
workforce training for both adults and youth to further assist the
Commonwealth’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Massachusetts is one of 27
states to which IKEA is planning to provide funds through its new national fund
designed to return unemployment benefits that IKEA employees received when
stores closed during the pandemic. In addition to the U.S., IKEA is
coordinating repayment plans with Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic,
Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain and the United Kingdom.

“Massachusetts is grateful
to have responsible businesses like IKEA that work in partnership with us,
ensuring that we can take urgent care of people whose livelihoods were impacted
by the coronavirus outbreak while strategically planning for our recovery in
the months and years ahead,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.

“We are appreciative of the
ongoing support from the state of Massachusetts, including the unemployment
funds paid to our co-workers who were furloughed in the early weeks of the
pandemic,” said Javier Quiñones, IKEA Retail U.S. president. “People are the
heart of our business, and the state unemployment benefits helped IKEA US
co-workers during a difficult time. We now have a better understanding of the
impact of COVID-19 on our business, and we’ve decided to “pay it forward” to
support the ongoing COVID recovery efforts in our local communities.”

The returned benefits will
be deposited into the Commonwealth Corporation Foundation, the 501(c)(3) created
to act as a fiscal conduit for grants, contracts, corporate funds and other
funding that supports Commonwealth Corporation, Massachusetts’ quasi-public
workforce development agency.

“Unemployment insurance and
workforce development create a virtuous circle. Workers trained using UI funds
help businesses across Massachusetts grow and thrive,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn
Polito. “As those businesses succeed and paid wages grow, businesses pay it
forward through growing UI contributions, which assist more workers gain the
skills to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. This cycle lays a strong
foundation to support the Commonwealth’s businesses, workers and families
through both difficult and prosperous economic times.”

Workforce development is
lifelong education: affordable, highly effective, and efficient in delivering
the skills that businesses seek in employees. Commonwealth Corporation
administers Massachusetts’ workforce development programs on behalf of the
Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development by investing in innovative
partnerships with industry, education and workforce organizations.

Those partnerships prepare
youth and unemployed workers for jobs in demand that lead to higher rates of
employment through the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund, upskill
underemployed workers to meet specific employer skill demands leading to job
retention, upgrades and wage gains through the Workforce Training Fund Program,
and increase the share of youth engaged in education and employment pathways
preparing them for post-secondary education and careers through its YouthWorks
program.

“Massachusetts has worked
tirelessly over the last five months to make sure that every person entitled to
benefits during this global emergency has received what they need to support
themselves and their families,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce
Development Rosalin Acosta. “Now, we must focus on preparing workers for a
drastically changed economy so that we can meet the challenges ahead caused by
this crisis.

“The nature of work is changing, and we run
the risk of leaving behind workers who do not have the means to work from home,
or who worked in industries heavily impacted by COVID-19,” said Commonwealth
Corporation Christine Abrams. “Our grantees have done remarkable work in the
face of this crisis, from transitioning their factories to personal protective
equipment production, to adapting current training programs designed for
hard-hit industries to now target industries that are still hiring. Our
YouthWorks program has created virtual opportunities for youth across
Massachusetts. We are grateful to IKEA for helping us continue this critical
work.”

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