Click  here for Apri, 2013 Progress Report.

Secure Jobs Connect Advisory Committee
May 13, 2013

In attendance:  Debbie Bellucci, Springfield Technical Community College, Sara Chaganti, Brandeis University, Bud Delphin, Career Point, Ken Demers, Corporation for Public Management/NEFWC, David Gadaire, CareerPoint, Joanne Glier, DTA, Steve Huntley, Valley Opportunity Council, Lisa Lapierre, Secure Jobs Connect program director, Darlene Morse, SJC/Career Point, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, George Ryan, Hampden County REB, Pamela Schwartz, Network coordinator, Robin Sherman, Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, State Representative Aaron Vega, Glenn Walulak, Savers

Reviewed Monthly Progress Report  (click here):

Referrals:  231 referrals thus far (as many as hoping to get for entire project).  Speaks to need (heightened anxiety based on HomeBASE ending) and excellent participation of HomeBASE agencies.  The number of referrals has put stress on the system and adaptations have been made, e.g., shifted from individual appointments to group assessments to help narrow the pool, conserve resources and focus on those who are greatest candidates.  Still a backlog on clients waiting to be seen (roughly 130).

Enrollments:  beginning to catch up (# of referrals put them behind).  Enrolled 35 parents into the project, meeting project’s monthly goal but falling 12% short of the project’s YTD goal.

Placements:  still relatively low, partly a function of late start, partly a function of time lag between training and placement.  Trainings and certification processes are taking longer than anticipated.  Another factor is matching participant with best long-term employment, i.e., can require passing up immediate job opportunity that is very low-paying for a better job prospect that may require more training/time to reach employment.  Group agreed that the best measure is successful placements (as opposed to exclusive focus on meeting target goals).

Special kudos to participating business partners:  City of Holyoke, Habit OPCO, Holyoke Community College, Monroe Staffing, Savers

Referrals in Franklin/Hampshire/Berkshire:
Franklin County – 6-8
Berkshire County – 4
1 placement so far
On target for 10% participation from these counties

Robin Sherman raised the question of forward-looking data:   6-12 months down the road, will we know whether families are better off.  Even more meaningful is the 5 year view since for many families it can take that long to move from homelessness to self-sufficiency.  The question is:  what does it take for families to reach self-sufficiency?

Representative Aaron Vega:  concern that increased wages will cost families public assistance, creating disincentive to work.  Goes to long-term policy goals of program – how do we account for these barriers.

Raises question of legislative action around these barriers.  Also we should look at ways we can use private funds to intervene when obstacles arise.  We should collect data on how/why SJC participants drop out of the program, i.e., document the barriers such as job loss resulting from missing work due to a sick child, transportation challenges, loss of child care voucher or other public assistance.  This can inform our policy interventions.

A telling anecdote:  One participant had a great job offer but the store was open until 9:30 pm and the bus she needed to take to get home stops running at 7:00 pm.  Impossible to say yes.  Will document this transportation problem.  Point raised that ultimately in this region a person needs a car to get to work.  Question raised as to whether we consider creating a pool of funds to support the purchase of a functional car.

Vast majority of families need a tremendous amount of support, a lot of case management.  Mental health issues, other barriers.  Hardest piece is supporting the families over extended periods of time.

Discussion of where program participants are in training.  Examples include:
certified medical assistants
precision machinist training

Preparing individuals for workforce with job readiness training, doing resumes individually, other basic skills training.  SJC is run like a job – must sign in, call in if can’t show up, etc.

Discussed if/how it’s possible to engage employers in this process to create some latitude for employees when circumstances arise beyond their control vs. actions that indicate lack of commitment.  Recognized employer has a bottom line and can’t really afford to deal with the complexities these individuals may face.  Also recognized that for this reason the non-profit, mission-driven sector may be in a better position to provide some flexibility.  SJC program is reaching out to non-profits for employment opportunities as well.

Discussed business outreach:

Agreed that introductory letter does not need to make special mention of working with the homeless population (avoid biases); that it is sufficient to describe the program as “income eligible”

Agreed we need to come at business development from 2 angles:  (1) explicitly trying to find matches for people within the program, e.g., medical, clerical, machinist, etc. and (2) growing the pool of employers in absolute terms, not based on specific individual searches (since you can’t know the next client’s background).

SJC is networking with the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, speaking about SJC at HR roundtables, such as AIM (Associated Industries of Mass.).

Rep. Vega suggested reaching out to city economic development offices since businesses that have received TIFs (tax breaks) are required to hire locally. Agreed we would reach out as follows:

Holyoke and Chicopee: CareerPoint (ongoing)
Northampton – Network (Pamela) will contact
Greenfield – Robin Sherman/Greenfield Housing Task Force (will use that vehicle to connect with Mayor about this)
Pittsfield – Jay Sacchetti
Springfield – Pamela will reach out to Gerry

Next meeting: June 11, 3:30-4:45 pm
Northampton location preferred.  Will check on Franklin/Hampshire Career Center since senior center closes too early to use.



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