Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes
January 5, 2015

 In attendance: Debbie Bellucci, STCC, Ashley Brehm, HAP, Alvina Brevard, DHCD, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Madeline Martinez, HAP, Johnny Miranda, HAP, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonti, HAPHousing, Kereen Rennis, CHD, George Ryan, REB Hampden County, Alyce Stiles, Greenfield Community College, Rep. Aaron Vega, Robert Wojcik, CareerPoint

 December Progress Report (click here):

The program has placed 40 participants thus far this fiscal year with a total goal of 50 by June, 2016. Staff are placing roughly 9 participants a month into jobs. This is a fantastic rate with fantastic outcomes. The key to success has been being fully staffed (2 employment specialists and a job developer at HAP) plus excellent collaboration with CareerPoint. Congratulations to all!

Rep. Vega raised the question of retention rates since the start of the program. Ashley will look into collecting that data over the last 3 years.

Berkshire County had a quiet month for referrals in December but already in January they have 5 new enrollments so they are seeing some new movement.

John Rio – Advocates for Human Potential (AHP) – TA for Secure Jobs

John continued the discussion begun last month regarding the possible technical assistance he could offer our region (sponsored by HUD as an outgrowth of the national job summit in October 2013 that included a dozen communities).   The fundamental agenda is to improve employment outcomes for the homeless population in general and the participants in the CoC in particular.

In addition to the TA, HUD is offering “City to City” peer learning conversations across the 12 communities.   The first one is on 1/21 and pertains to rapid rehousing and employment. Pamela will send out the information about this. HUD will also be hosting webinars on the issue and welcome CoC participation.

Our group established that our region’s primary concern is sustainability. John can provide us with a structured conversation – in person sometime over the next few month – to explore funding schemes, e.g. employment and training dollars that are part of SNAP; social enterprise development, e.g., business creation that would employ disadvantaged individuals; use of CDGB funds.

We also discussed the development of a curriculum to be used in serving participants in their readiness for employment. Ashley and HAP staff are working on this now and John will provide consultation and feedback as needed.

John also noted that HUD is looking at performance measures regarding increasing employment income for people receiving CoC services. Pamela said she will reach out to the two CoC leads to invite them to join this conversation.

Rep. Vega raised the challenge of our region not having a big employment base. How do we grow businesses here?

John suggested looking at Governor Baker’s economic development plan; to delve into what sectors need mid-level skill employees; how do we help those currently employed raise their employment and income levels?

Johnny Miranda of HAP raised the importance of teaching participants to integrate their passions with their income pursuits.

Sean Hemingway raised the challenge of helping a population with multiple barriers; how do we move past the Secure Jobs participants to develop a program for the harder to serve.

Bill Mulholland raised the issue of the Berkshires having some of the oldest population in the state; that once this population retires there will be a real need for mid-level employees and businesses are worried about finding enough employees with basic math and communication skills. We need to look at our training capacity and increase it through apprenticeship programs.

Berkshire CareerCenter is working to create pre-apprenticeship programs – 11 week course that prepares people to consider an apprenticeship pathway.

Pamela raised the federal RFR on child care and job training Bud and Ken are looking at this as well as another federal job grant. Bud will update Pamela who will in turn update the group.

Pamela agreed that she would reach out to the CoCs and begin the planning for John Rio’s visit, maybe sometime in April. John sees it as a 1.5 day visit with a series of meetings with Secure Jobs, CoC, career centers and regional employment boards. Pamela, Ashley and John will continue the conversation and report back on on next steps.

Next meeting: Tuesday, Feb. 2, 11 am, HCC.

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