Employment Training & Professional Development
WCAC’s Job & Education Center’s (JEC) employment programs provide meaningful, work-place based employment experiences for young people ages 16 – 24 both through the popular YouthWorks Summer Jobs model and an ever-growing Year-Round Jobs program. Work experiences are typically 6 – 12 weeks long and provide on-the-job learning, combined with work readiness skill training, and case management. JEC staff actively engage with community partners to provide, facilitate or support workforce development training programs. Through partnerships with Quinsigamond Community College and others, additional experiences include short term certificate training programs for adults (18+) that are entering or returning to the workforce.
The goal of the state’s subsidized employment program, YouthWorks, is to help ensure young people are ready for work and are acquiring skills that will make them marketable in a competitive environment. Research indicates that young people who work in their teens are more likely to work as young adults. The anticipated outcome of YouthWorks is to provide young people with the skills, experience, and networks to be able to secure employment in the unsubsidized labor market. YouthWorks represents a statewide effort of local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) and Career Centers partnering with businesses, state agencies and local community-based organizations to recruit, train, place, and supervise teens and young adults (ages 14 to 21) in job opportunities in public, nonprofit, and private-sector placements.
As part of an effort to strategically target high-needs youth, priority placement is given to those with the following risk factors including : Court-involved youth – DYS-committed, on juvenile probation, gang-involved, homelessness or being a runaway; Foster care or being close to aging out of foster care; having aged out of foster care Additional risk factors include: poor academic performance or a school dropout; being the child of a single parent; having a disability or special needs; lack of fluency in English, or being a foreign immigrant; being a teen parent.
YouthWorks Program Partners include: Commonwealth Corporation, MassHire Central Region Workforce Board, City of Worcester Division of Youth Opportunities, Worcester Public Schools, employer partners
WCAC engages with local businesses as a ‘staffing agency’ of sorts, connecting businesses and youth, and ensuring that youth are well prepared prior to referral to an employer partner. Youth will participate in approximately 20 hours of work readiness skills training. This training focuses on the development of soft skills, communication, dependability, team work and leadership development. Additional training includes resume writing, mock interviews, financial capability and dressing for success. Staff work with youth to develop a strategic job search including online and in-person applications.
Participants are referred to Dress for Success (females) or Stepping Up 4 Men (males) where they are outfitted with clothing appropriate for the job search/interview process. Resumes, cover letters and references are polished and youth work with staff to begin navigating the hiring process. In addition to the specific services provided, youth are often in need of referrals to services provided by community-based organizations. These needs vary widely, but most commonly requested are assistance with shelter/housing, child care and transportation.
WCAC has developed a wide network of partner agencies that are ready to provide services as needed. Once a youth has obtained a job, WCAC staff provides follow-up case management support, connecting with the youth weekly for a month and then every six months, adapted as needed. Follow-up helps youth to feel supported and engaged, encouraged to continue working even when faced with difficult decisions, such as losing cash assistance benefits, and to be aware of training opportunities that could lead to promotions. WCAC is able to track a youth’s progress and measure their success or additional needs for future program development, grant opportunities, and strategic planning.
Secure Jobs is funded by the Department of Transitional Assistance. The goal of the Secure Jobs Connect program is job placement for homeless families receiving services from the DHCD HomeBASE housing assistance program, with a long term objective of achieving self-sufficiency and permanent housing WCAC receives referrals from CMHA and SMOC (South Middlesex Opportunity Council). Once referred, Secure Jobs case managers complete an initial intake document for the individual and create a plan to secure housing and employment. Participants are dismissed from the program upon completion of all program milestones created in partnership with Secure Jobs staff, thus reaching self-sufficiency.
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