Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WorkReady and other fall workforce activities

Blogging time has been scarce of late. September/October is a time of multiple WorkReady programs. This morning, I was in Waterville, holding an informational session for the program at the library. We had a good group of eight interested folks, and five filled out applications and stayed for the CASAS assessment.

Recruitment has been going well. This is our third time that we've offered the program in Waterville, and it appears that word is getting out and hopefully, we'll have our 12-15 participants that is always our goal, allowing us to maximize training funds.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be leaving the house early to drive 90 miles to East Madison, where I'll help with mock interviews for our second WorkReady program at Somerset County Jail. The county jail populations are a perfect setting for the kinds of work skills that WorkReady provides to trainees.

Unfortunately, employer support for this WorkReady pilot in the jail from area employers has been lukewarm at best. Our mock interview day is one of the key components of the program, particularly since poor interviewing skills (which many of these candidates possess) often prevent accessing employment success. Especially frustrating have been wider appeals made directly to groups like KVHRA, the major human resources association in Mid-Maine. In southern Maine, when the program has been offered at the Maine Correctional Center, HRASM was an eager and willing participant, assisting with mock interviews, and even writing letters of support indicating how impressed they were with the program offered in that location.

Possibly it stems from ignorance, and the lack of understanding that the best way to impede continued criminal behavior is by providing support in the way of a job that pays a decent wage when these individuals leave the jail.

Recently, F. Lee Bailey was in Maine touting a program called Amicus, which seeks to partner jail inmates with employers willing to hire them. It seems to me that there is the potential of partnering, providing work skills for inmates while in jails like the one in Somerset County, and then connecting them with supportive employers upon release. In my opinion, creating tax-paying citizens is a better solution, than continuing to entail the costs of warehousing them in the county jail system.

In addition to these programs, recruitment is ongoing for our Lewiston program, which begins October 19. I'll be holding an informational meeting next week for DHHS/ASPIRE clients. Lewiston is our longest running site, with WorkReady now in its third year in that community.

Additionally, I am part of a subcommittee at the statewide level for the program, planning a train-the-trainer orientation for Adult Education sites that want to offer WorkReady for the first time.

With my remaining spare minutes, I continue to work with the business services staff in Lewiston to coordinate monthly events targeting key business sectors that are informational, and targeted towards jobs seekers, and workers recently affected by layoffs.

I'm hoping to weigh-in at some point about the bevy of gubenatorial candidates, and their job creation/workforce strategies. For political junkies like me, this is an exciting time, as we're a bit more than a year removed from November 2010's election of our next governor.

For others like me, “jonesing” for the horserace to begin, Derek Viger, at The Maine View conducted an entirely “unscientific” online poll last week. The results were interesting and gave a preliminary indication that political neophyte, Bruce Poliquin, may have an organization capable of mobilizing supporters, very important at such an early stage in the game.

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