Made in Massachusetts: CommCorp Celebrates Manufacturing Month

Did you know that October is Manufacturing Month? Massachusetts is home to a diverse group of nearly 7,000 manufacturers who produce everything from electronic ink to gluten-free goodies to robotics. To celebrate Manufacturing Month, we are highlighting a few of these “Made in MA” products and would like to introduce you to a few of the truly revolutionary manufacturers in the state.

Manufacturing continues to be an important sector in the Commonwealth’s economy with over 245,000 employees and 6,000+ full and part time job openings as of August 2017. The industry has been experiencing a growing demand for workers and is looking to fill positions as more people are retiring.

See below for some of the products being made right here in our state.

Who: Vibram
Location: North Brookfield

Have you ever looked on the bottom of your shoe and seen a yellow octagon on its sole?
You’ve got yourself a Vibram product. Vibram, an Italian company with US headquarters here in MA, manufactures and licenses the production of rubber outsoles for footwear. For all you hikers and people who enjoy the outdoors, you might know them as the maker of the Vibram FiveFingers shoes. Vibram soles can be found on footwear used in heavy industry, the military, law enforcement, and in general outdoor and fashion styles. In addition to footwear, Vibram manufactures a line of disc golf discs.

Who: E Ink
Location: Billerica (research and development), South Hadley (production)

Image from amazon.com

You’re either one of two types: you prefer the feel of a physical book in your hands, or the convenience of an e-reader. We’re not here to debate which is better, but we were excited to learn that E Ink, the world’s leading innovator of electronic paper display technology (EPD), operates right here in Massachusetts! The company delivers its advanced display products to the world’s most influential brands and manufacturers, enabling them to install extremely durable, low power displays in previously impossible or unimaginable applications and environments.

Who: Gillian’s Foods
Location: Salem


Do you or someone in your family have to avoid wheat, nuts or gluten? This company has a product you might want to check out. Gillian’s Foods is a small family owned company founded with the purpose of making high quality, gluten-free-foods. The facility is dedicated to a gluten, wheat, tree nut & peanut free environment. Their products include gluten-free rolls, onion rolls, sandwich bread, ziti, pasta, pizza dough, pizza, pie shells, pumpkin pie, cakes, bread crumbs, rice flour, potato flour, tapioca flour, gluten & wheat free mixes.

Who: Hydroid, Inc.
Location: Pocasset

Have you ever seen footage from deep sea exploration? Perhaps of the Titanic? It’s companies like Hydroid Inc. that make it possible. Hydroid, Inc. is a field-proven technology leader in advanced marine robotics, specifically autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).

The company designs and manufactures state-of-the-art solutions for use in a number of applications including marine research, commercial and defense. Their AUVs make undersea exploration safer and more efficient. They have been used in everything from undersea mine countermeasures to deep sea exploration, including mapping the Titanic, to the recovery of downed aircraft (Air France Flight 447).

Who: BionX Medical Technologies
Location: Bedford


BionX has an inspirational goal: to restore normalized function and quality of life for people with amputations. More than 1,400 people have experienced the power of BionX’s prosthesis, the only prosthesis with powered propulsion for enhanced mobility. BionX is the creator of both the BioM and emPOWER ankle. emPOWER is the next generation design of the BiOM Ankle.

The above companies are grantees of the Workforce Training Fund. Click here for a full list of grantees.

Promoting Success: Tips for Employers

Over the past few years, Commonwealth Corporation has been studying the underlying causes of the decline in youth employment.  In 2013, we published two studies with the Center for Labor Markets & Policy at Drexel University: Signaling Success: Boosting Teen Employment Prospects and Building Blocks of Labor Market Success.  These studies looked at the skills, knowledge and behaviors that businesses were seeking in entry-level workers.  We recently took the next step to understand how to prepare young workers and entry-level workers to navigate their careers and prepare and present themselves for advancement opportunities.  We conducted this research in two phases: phase one focused on input from businesses and phase two centered on input from young adults.

For phase one of the research, we surveyed businesses regarding how they assess entry-level workers for their potential for advancement as well as the internal policies and practices around promotions.  We followed up the surveys with focus groups and interviews with businesses to test and flesh out the survey findings.  Altogether we reached more than 230 businesses from a range of industries and across every region of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

We are excited to release a preview of the findings from the business phase of our research in the form of tips and best practices for businesses on developing entry-level talent, for programs that serve young workers, and for entry-level employees themselves.  Our first “tips” tool, “Promoting Success: Tips for Employers” is directed toward businesses.  We hope that you find the research and findings useful as you recruit and develop talent, particularly in today’s very tight labor market.

Currently we are wrapping up phase two of the study; we are conducting focus groups of young workers 18-24 to understand how they make career decisions and what tools they use to inform those decisions.  We have produced another tool for organizations working to prepare young people for work: Promoting Success: Tips for Youth Organizations, and we expect to release findings from phase two and a full report in the fall.

Regards,
Nancy

 

 

Achieving Impactful Outcomes: Key Characteristics of Successful Sector Partnerships


As Nancy introduced, this is the fourth and final post in our Spring WCTF Blog Series, Achieving Impactful Outcomes: Observations from WCTF. In today’s post, CommCorp Senior VP Rebekah Lashman will explore the characteristics of successful sector partnerships.

 

Over the past 10 years we’ve invested Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund and other state and federal resources in more than 80 programs that have been designed and managed by regional industry sector partnerships.  Our goal for these investments has been to prepare and place Massachusetts residents who would not otherwise be considered to be strong candidates in jobs that are in demand by regional businesses.  Some of the programs have been highly successful; others have struggled.   As we’ve observed them over the years, we’ve developed some conclusions about the characteristics of successful sector partnerships.  They fall into three buckets:

Clarity of Focus

Partnerships that focus on specific labor market problems develop more effective programs. They are more likely to invest in continuous improvement and are in a better position to meet additional needs of the targeted industry.

We suggest that partnership members pick a single occupation (or a closely-related set of occupations) for which there is clear evidence that there is current and near-term (one to two years) demand for workers. Last month my colleague Theresa Rowland and I had the privilege of offering a workshop at the Commonwealth Workforce Coalition Conference. We shared some resources for identifying an occupation and included a guide to interviewing regional employers about occupational demand.

We also suggest that partnerships focus on a target population around which they will design the program. The most successful industry sector programs address the intersection between the skills and knowledge required for an occupation and the experience and skills that are attainable for a target population within a reasonable timeframe.  Click here for another resource where we share some additional thoughts about how to approach this analysis.

 

Complementarity – of Members’ Missions, Resources, and Expertise

We’re all crazy busy and are feeling under increasing pressure to do more with less.  No one, whether they work for a non-profit or public agency or a private organization, will remain committed to and engaged in a group for very long if the work isn’t aligned in some way with the mission of their organization and if they don’t have relevant resources or expertise to contribute to the group.  There just isn’t enough time in the day or week. Every member of the partnership should be able to articulate what they or their organization will gain from participating and what they are bringing to the table that is essential for success. In our RFPs we always insist that a sector partnership include businesses that have a current and likely ongoing need for workers in the targeted occupation. The business members have the most information about the skill requirements for the occupation and about hiring practices and organizational culture. They should certainly participate in the program design and can often play a role in instruction, particularly if they can contribute a skilled worker who also has been trained in effective teaching methods.

But there are many other areas of expertise that are essential for an effective industry sector program and are not likely to be in a business member’s wheelhouse. These include recruitment, assessment, social services, case management and career coaching, work readiness skill building, contextualized literacy, numeracy, English-language proficiency, and job development.

We’re currently working with eight partnerships whose members are engaged in a rigorous program design exercise in which they are assessing and revising every element of their programs to ensure that they meet the requirements of their target occupations and the needs of their target populations.  We’ve been learning along with them – our colleague Anthony Britt discussed the essential elements of program design in his blog in May.   We’ve also developed an outline of the phases of industry sector program development and some suggested steps.

 

As you can see, we believe that it is almost impossible to overestimate the level of effort and investment required to conduct effective program design and delivery.  We suggest that throughout the design process partnership members conduct an extensive inventory of the expertise, capacity and resources needed to ensure that the partnership has the collective capacity to be successful in designing and carrying out the program.

Commitment – to Roles, Responsibilities and Data-Driven Decision Making

Over the years partnership members have told us they are most effective when they are clear about what they have committed to do, what role they are playing, how decisions will be made and how they will know whether their program is successful. It is essential to identify an organization that will serve as the convener and staff of the partnership. We discussed this in our Partnership Guide in detail but the most critical capacities for the convener include relationship management, participant-level data collection and analysis and fiscal and project management.

We also believe strongly that members should develop a shared program development work plan and an MOA that articulates the role, responsibility and resource commitments of each member of the partnership as well as the decision making processes.

Finally, as Theresa suggested in her blog in April, the work of industry sector partnerships must be data-driven. The members should insist on, and commit to participating in, a continuous process improvement cycle. In order to do this, they will need identify the data required to assess the effectiveness of each program element, develop data collection and analysis capacity, and establish a schedule and protocol for reviewing the data and revising the program as needed.

None of this is easy.  After all, industry sector partnerships are coming together to solve labor market problems. But we believe that it is essential if we are to be successful in ensuring that Massachusetts’ residents are prepared to meet the talent needs of our state’s businesses. What has your experience taught you about industry sector partnerships? Please contribute to our ongoing efforts to share lessons and effective practices.

Written by Rebekah Lashman, Senior VP for Sector Strategies at Commonwealth Corporation. Rebekah leads the design of CommCorp’s investments in sectoral employment and skills upgrading programs including the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund and the Workforce Training Fund.

Achieving Impactful Outcomes: Program Design with the End Goal in Mind


As Nancy introduced, this is the third of four posts in our Spring WCTF Blog Series, Achieving Impactful Outcomes: Observations from WCTF. In today’s post, WCTF Program Manager Anthony Britt will explore a few often underestimated elements of successful program design.

 

I came to CommCorp from the public education sphere, where the most effective lessons were planned with the end goal in mind. In the last blog post, Theresa shared how we use data to inform our decision-making and to maximize the placement of participants into sustainable employment- our main objective. With the Massachusetts unemployment rate at 3.6%, many businesses are having a tougher time finding qualified candidates for their open positions. How can sectoral employment programs help close this gap?

While the programs we fund take on different forms based on the needs of local businesses and job-seekers, we’ve seen a number of essential elements emerge as keys to success, such as employer-informed technical skills training and integrated support services. At the same time, we’ve seen that some elements of program design are often underestimated, such as recruitment and placement strategies.


Beginning…

 

Given the significant amount of work that goes into planning training, the time and resources it takes to effectively recruit robust cohorts can be overlooked. There is value in starting your outreach early and making multiple points of contact with candidates as you may need to speak with four-plus people for each slot in the class.

Choosing partners strategically can expand your reach. In addition to working with One-Stop Career Centers, our programs have found it beneficial to partner with a diverse set of referral sources. Recently, one program in Western Massachusetts held a bilingual event in partnership with a longstanding community-based organization who possessed Spanish-language proficiency in order to provide potential participants with exposure to hospitality and food preparation, the chosen occupational target. Other programs engage recruits through social media in addition to traditional flyers or by canvassing at natural gathering spots such as the local supermarket or DMV office.

Once a program has graduated a cohort or two, word-of-mouth from alumni can help spread awareness amongst their networks and even result in a level of familiarity amongst participants from day one.


…with the End Goal in Mind

 

Successful programs are able to identify the gap between businesses’ needs for skilled workers* and the current credentials and skill levels of their target participant population. They engage employers to identify the required technical skills and work readiness competencies as well as company-specific hiring requirements to increase the likelihood of placement beyond program completion.

When it comes to filling slots in a cohort, they implement processes that select participants who can benefit most from training, which requires a clear understanding of the factors most relevant to persistence in the training program AND to retention once hired. Factors such as:

  • Literacy / numeracy levels
  • Work readiness / soft skills
  • Motivation and interest to work in the target occupation
  • Transportation access
  • CORI review and drug testing

One program in the Merrimack Valley held a half-day event with potential trainees to assess aptitude, desire, commitment, and readiness to succeed in transportation and construction careers. Over 20 prospective students attended this “try-out day” to fill one of eight positions in the class. Employer and training partners in attendance completed a survey that included collaboratively-defined metrics and were involved in making the final candidate selections.

Throughout this process, participants were able to demonstrate sufficient commitment and readiness for training and employment in a way that met both businesses and jobseekers where they were at. Experiences such as “try-out day” provide opportunities for jobseekers to learn more about the job and assess whether it is a good match for their own personal goals, work styles, aptitudes, and interests. Strategic selection and assessment policies also enable programs to match their support services to their participants’ needs. In fact, we are currently trying out some of these ideas and more with our most recent round of WCTF grantees.

Well-executed sectoral employment programs bridge businesses’ needs for skilled workers and residents’ needs for good-paying jobs. We know that early and on-going collaboration with employers is fundamental. Also, by gaining a deep understanding of the individuals served, programs can anticipate gaps and build appropriate supports into their program design. This requires working in and across business, education, government, and community cultures. Stay tuned for Rebekah’s upcoming post about developing sector partnerships!

*We hope to see you at the CWC Conference on May 11th  where Theresa and Rebekah will be presenting on the important first step of identifying which labor market problem you’re seeking to solve through your demand-driven sectoral employment program.

Written by Anthony Britt, the Program Manager for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. Anthony joined CommCorp in July 2016 and is committed to improving outcomes for marginalized people through increased access to quality educational and economic opportunities and systemic reform.

Achieving Impactful Outcomes: What does it mean to be data-driven?


As Nancy introduced, this is the second of four posts in our Spring WCTF Blog Series, Achieving Impactful Outcomes: Observations from WCTF. In today’s post Theresa Rowland, Program Director, will discuss what it means to be data-driven.

 

What does data driven-mean? And how do programs ensure they are doing it?  To us, data-driven is identifying and using data to help make decisions about the programs we fund.  In my 10 years of experience at CommCorp, I have come to learn the value of being data-driven.

We ask partnerships to be data-driven from the beginning of any program by engaging employers to identify local real time demand for target occupations. Partnerships are required to talk with employers in their region who are hiring for their identified target occupation, and then learn everything they can about the employers’ skill, credential and hiring requirements. While publicly available data sets are helpful in figuring out which employers to start to talk with, building the case for the demand and need for a training program is only made by talking with real local employers who can provide information on the number of vacancies they currently have, the number they anticipate needing to fill over the next 1-2 years and are committed to partnering to fill their vacancies.

We also ask partnerships to continue to be data-driven in managing and measuring the success of their programs. It helps that we are very clear on the goal of sector strategies programs – to place participants in stable positions with opportunities for advancement. Partnerships propose goals and track data using a participant level database for the following indicators:

  • Primary goal: Job Placement
  • Interim indicators:
    • Enrollment
    • Credential Attainment
    • Training Completion

At CommCorp we organize these data, using a data dashboard to track quarterly progress in meeting these success indicators. The dashboard helps us, along with staff at the partnerships, focus on where participants may be getting stuck and need additional support in the program.


The dashboard does not answer all of our questions, but helps point us in the right direction to start exploring the root cause of the problem and to start identifying mid-course corrections. For example, a low credential attainment rate may point to any variety of issues, including training curriculum that is not aligned to the credentialing exam, significant time lapse between training end date and credential exam or literacy/numeracy barriers. The data alert us to a potential problem which requires additional exploration and conversation to understand.

Another dashboard used to make program decisions is the demographic report. This helps us understand more about the individuals being served by the programs we fund.  We can even look at whether there are certain populations achieving higher rates of employment outcomes by program to help understand any relationship between the demographic profile of an individual and their likelihood of entering employment.  This is an important data point to ensure programs are working to support all program participants. For example, if a program was placing a lower proportion of individuals without a high school diploma than individuals with a high school diploma, the program may want to review their selection criteria or design an additional component of the program to provide additional literacy skills to this population.

Data-driven is more than just crunching some numbers. The real fun is using data to point you in the direction toward meaningful conversations with program participants and partners to understand what is really going on in your programs and how to make mid-course corrections to ensure your program meets your partnership’s goals.

Written by Theresa Rowland, the Program Director for Sectoral Employment Initiatives at Commonwealth Corporation. Theresa has worked for the last 10 years making and managing grants through the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund.

Achieving Impactful Outcomes: Observations from WCTF


Welcome to our WCTF Blog series: Achieving Impactful Outcomes: Observations from WCTF. I’m excited to introduce you to our upcoming blog series created specifically for you: our colleagues and partners in workforce development working to support businesses and workers in Massachusetts to create a stronger economy. This is blog number 1 of 4 that will be shared over the next month and a half.

 

At CommCorp, we’re in the skills-building business. Across the Commonwealth, we design and execute workforce programs in partnership with businesses, educators, training providers and the workforce system. In this series, we are going to focus on key takeaways from our management of the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF).

The Massachusetts Legislature established the WCTF in 2006 to support sector partnerships that lead to employment outcomes. More than ten years later, the WCTF continues to invest in demand-driven programs designed by industry sector partnerships that train and place unemployed and underemployed workers.

Since 2006, we’ve learned a lot. We carefully review each partnership we fund; acknowledging and learning from any challenges we and our partners come across. Recently, we completed a round of WCTF funding called Addressing the Middle Skills Gap. This round of funding was designed to address the gap between skills held by workers and the skills needed by employers for jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than the equivalent of a 4-year degree.

The partnerships funded between 2013 and 2016 demonstrated impressive outcomes:

  • 903 job seekers were enrolled and 817 (90%) completed training;
  • 670 people were placed in jobs at 447 companies; this is 82% of graduates and 74% of participants, compared to a national enrollment to placement rate of 56% for similar programs; and,
  • 83% of workers placed were retained for at least 6 months as compared to a national average of 64%, and earned an average of $15.02 per hour.

Additionally, this round confirmed our understanding of what elements are necessary to ensure successful outcomes for businesses and job seekers:

Each of the above components are crucial to yielding impactful results for the populations we serve and over the next couple of months, we will explore these topics even further and share our insights with you. You will be hearing from various members of the CommCorp team including Rebekah Lashman, our Senior Vice President of Sector Strategies, Theresa Rowland, the Director of the WCTF, and Anthony Britt, our Program Manager for the WCTF. We hope that you find this series to be helpful and we look forward to engaging with you further.

Stay tuned!

Regards,
Nancy

Demand-Driven Problem Solving Needed in Tight Labor Market

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development recently announced that the Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to 2.8%, the lowest rate of unemployment since January 2001.

An unemployment rate of 2.8% is great news for the Commonwealth and for job seekers looking for a new job or better job. However, it presents challenges to businesses struggling to meet their talent needs, particularly in the face of an aging workforce that is retiring or may retire in the near future.

Tight labor markets create opportunities for workforce development and education professionals to create innovative partnerships with industry to prepare Massachusetts residents who are underemployed for better jobs and residents who are unemployed for their next job or first job. It is also an opportunity to bring people back into the labor force who have been disconnected from work for an extended period of time.   This “sector strategy” will help to grow the labor force and to provide opportunities to populations that have not been able to connect to the strong economy.

In December, on behalf of Secretary Ronald Walker, II and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Commonwealth Corporation released two requests for qualifications, seeking partnerships that will train and support Massachusetts residents with limited or no attachment to the labor force for jobs that are in demand. These funding opportunities target populations that have faced high rates of chronic unemployment, as identified by a Task Force created by Governor Baker in 2015. The Task Force focused on African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, individuals with disabilities and Gulf War Era II Veterans, populations with unemployment rates ranging from 7 percent to 20 percent.

This approach to preparing Massachusetts residents for work builds partnerships of community-based organizations, multiple employers, workforce organizations and educational institutions that will design training that meets the hiring requirements of specific businesses with immediate hiring needs. These partnerships will include organizations that have experience working with individuals with limited labor force attachment and connecting individuals to the supports necessary to ensure that they are able to complete training and succeed in the workplace. The partnerships’ programs will be funded through the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund and the Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund, consistent with the demand-driven strategy prioritized by Governor Baker and Secretary Ronald Walker, II.

We know this approach works. Our last WCTF grant round, Addressing the Middle Skills Gap, wrapped up in June 2016. This program awarded $4.5 million to 15 organizations to train and place unemployed and underemployed job seekers between 2013-2016. Our outcomes are as follows:

  • 903 job seekers were enrolled and 817 (90%) completed training;
  • 670 people were placed in jobs at 447 companies; this is 82% of graduates and 74% of participants, compared to a national enrollment to placement rate of 56% for similar programs; and,
  • 83% of them were retained for at least 6 months as compared to a national average of 64% and were earning an average of $15.02.

Whether facing a strong or challenging economy, we are committed to investing in partnerships with industry, education and workforce to meet the needs of businesses and workers across MA. We celebrate Massachusetts’ success in connecting more workers to employment within our state’s businesses, and we will continue to work to support demand-driven training programs that achieve strong placement outcomes.

 

Grant Helps LHMC Expand Role of Medical, Clinical Assistants

This blog features a story on Lahey Hospital and Medical Center (LHMC), one of the 59 grant projects being funded by the Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund (HCWTF). Grant funds are helping to increase the clinical and direct patient care skills of Medical and Clinic Assistants working in primary care practices.

LHMC has implemented the beginning stages of a comprehensive training program designed to expand the role of medical assistants (MAs) and clinic assistants (CAs) across the organization’s 18 primary care locations. This training program is linked to LHMC’s Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) initiative, which encourages clinicians and all primary care staff to work together to provide integrated and efficient care.

Continue reading “Grant Helps LHMC Expand Role of Medical, Clinical Assistants”

Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund Connects Workers to Employers

There has been a lot of buzz in the CommCorp halls about the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund: for the first time ever, it has a chance of being funded for a consecutive year. We are excited that this crucial program was included in Governor Baker’s budget because it supports a population in tremendous need and helps employers find skilled, motivated workers. While Massachusetts has an unemployment rate of 4.4% (MA Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, March 2016), we still have unemployed and underemployed workers across the state who struggle to find work. These job seekers are ready and willing to start a career, but they lack the support and networks to find one. Jiebin was one of those workers, and support from the WCTF changed his life.

Jiebin was a middle school teacher in China. In 2011, he made the courageous choice to move to the United States in search of a better life for his family. At the beginning, he remembers it was a challenge. His first job was as a bus person at a restaurant. Often working 15-hour days, he lost precious time with his wife and son. He soon wondered if he made the right choice in leaving China. He never got to see his family, he had no health care benefits and earned low wages. There was no opportunity for growth in his position.

Unsure of what to do or how to help his family, Jiebin continued to work odd jobs with difficult hours until he learned about the Hospitality Training Center.

Also known as BEST Corp, the Hospitality Training Center offered classes where he learned professional English, body safety, customer service and the standards at Boston’s luxury hotels. He learned about hotel branding, blood borne pathogens and how to work with difficult customers.

After completing the class he job shadowed at two hotels, and upon graduation got a job at the InterContinental Boston. Jiebin lights up when he says, “I am so proud of this job because it actually changed my life. I get paid well now and my family has health insurance and other benefits.”

The class at the Hospitality Training Center didn’t just help Jiebin find a job – it gave him the tools to build a career and a life. Soon after securing a job in the hospitality sector, he began to establish credit. He bought a two-family house where he rents out one floor. He and his wife had a second child. He remembers, “it’s not easy, but I did it. It’s an achievement in my life. I am so proud of this.”

Jieban’s career transformation was possible because of several important factors, one of the most essential being his own drive and determination. Another critical component was the training and support he received from BEST Corp, employer partners, the union, and other parties. The network of players is a key element to the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund. It doesn’t simply fund grantees: it funds partnerships. We know that tackling the challenge of placing unemployed and underemployed populations in careers doesn’t rest with one organization. It is essential to provide additional support services for these job seekers. This is a problem we can solve, and we’re proving it one job seeker at a time. There are a lot of Jiebins out there ready and willing to do the work. We simply need to give them the tools and the opportunity.

Employer Partnerships Are Key in YouthWorks

Since its inception in 1999, YouthWorks, Commonwealth Corporation’s summer job program for teens and young adults, has relied on employer partnerships. YouthWorks requires understanding employers who are willing to help coach young adults through what is often their first job. Without them, this program would be impossible.

Employers, in turn, have the opportunity to do “job try-outs” with young people.

Cheryl Stanuchsensk, owner of the Dairy Queen in South Lawrence, says that the summer job program allows her to test out employees for six weeks to see if they can adjust to the environment. “I look for kids who understand that this is a food business—they need to be able to follow the rules and have a good attitude with customers,” she says. This past summer, Cheryl was so pleased with her YouthWorks placement that she hired a young woman to stay on past the program’s completion.

In addition to the opportunity to test out employees, by partnering with YouthWorks, employers across the Commonwealth have access to a pool of qualified applicants from which they can hire. Each summer, all YouthWorks participants go through at least of 15 hours of training with CommCorp’s Signal Success Curriculum.

Signal Success is a comprehensive curriculum designed and tested by education and workforce development partners to help young people develop essential skills for future success. It instills important soft skills they need to be successful at work such as communication, collaboration, dependability and initiative.

Peter Blain, a Manager at Baystate Springfield Educational Partnership with Baystate Health says, “department employees who host students for work experiences often say that it is not as important what students know when they arrive as it is what they are willing to learn and do. Motivation, initiative, dependability, and teamwork are essential to success in the workplace. The Signal Success Work Readiness program, in which our students participate, teaches students to understand this process and begin their work experience from a position of strength.”

And most important of all, young adults involved in YouthWorks benefit by working with employers who are willing to mentor them in the early stages of their career. Tom Thibeault, Executive Director of the Brockton Housing Authority and longtime partner of YouthWorks, speaks of his experience working with young adults in the program:

“Many of the youth and staff have developed mentoring relationships that continue long after the employment has ended.  The Authority now employs several former program participants as permanent part time employees.  A number of our fulltime employees have worked in the program and are now an integral part of our organization. There have been many moving moments as the staff shares in the proud moments when the young workers are accepted to college or gain full time employment.  Many of the workers spend their entire college career returning for work during their winter and summer breaks.”

Interested in becoming an employer partner? Visit the YouthWorks page to learn more about the program.