CITY OF SOMERVILLE PILOT PROGRAM SEEKS TO REINVENT WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

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Low-income young adults aged 18-24 invited to apply to program;
local partners working with residents to prepare for full-time employment
SOMERVILLE –Applications are now available for the “Pocket Change” pilot
program, designed to help low-income young adults, aged 18-24, gain full-time employment with local employers, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development announced today—and businesses, residents and community partners are encouraged to participate and help put the City’s youth on a path to prosperity
On Tuesday, May 20, and Tuesday, June 3, the City of Somerville, the Somerville Community Corporation (SCC) and The Career Place will host information sessions for 18-24 year olds interested in this program. Today, Tuesday, May 20, the program presentation and intake session will be from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at SCC, 337 Somerville Ave., 2nd Floor. The Tuesday, June 4, information session will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., at the same location.

This cross-sector collaborative effort includes local community partners SCC and The Career Place, as well as many Somerville businesses including Bent Electric, the Cambridge Health Alliance, the Holiday Inn, Greentown Labs and Sproot.

Designed in response to employer need and eagerness to hire trained local residents, the pilot takes a new approach to workforce development, through which youth are introduced to employment through a series of “micro-level” jobs around town. These jobs provide a bit of “pocket change” to youth while they simultaneously participate in a series of soft-skill workshops that focus on job readiness skills, such as interviewing, resume writing and group dynamics. As youth move through the different tiers of the program, career counselors will play an active role in helping to match them with full-time employment opportunities. The City is committed to providing this training at no-cost to Somerville’s low-income youth. Funding for this pilot is provided through the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge, awarded to the City in early 2014.

“The challenge facing Somerville’s low-income youth in terms of finding employment is not unique; this is a challenge cities everywhere face. It’s a fact that entry-level opportunities have fundamentally changed, there’s more competition than ever,” said Mayor Curtatone. “Here in Somerville, we’re committed to ensuring that our residents are best equipped to access employment in the face of these challenges. We believe that this innovative model, in which partners from across sectors collaborate to identify opportunities and various levels of training, will serve as a new model for youth workforce development.”

Program partners are working to identify intermediate training opportunities for those youth who successfully complete the micro-level jobs and soft-skill workshops. One such opportunity is a new commercial drivers license (CDL) training program, offered in conjunction with the City of Somerville and the Somerville Municipal Employees Association (SMEA).

“The SMEA is excited to enter into this partnership with the Mayor and the City that would give local underprivileged Somerville residents an opportunity through an apprentice program to get CDL training,” said SMEA President Ed Halloran. “It is our hope that this program will be an example for other labor organizations and local businesses to follow in the future. We also hope that this CDL training will lead the way to well-paying jobs for those involved in this apprenticeship.”

How to get involved:
Businesses, residents and other community partners are encouraged to participate.

• Businesses: Do you have one-off projects or jobs where you could hire a Pocket Change youth for the day? Would you be willing to provide internships or other hands-on job opportunities? The City is also looking for people to provide guest lectures, mock interviews and job shadowing.
• Residents: Some of the best ways to earn extra Pocket Change is by helping others in your community. If you have one-off tasks, such as yard work or babysitting, please consider posting the job for a Pocket Change youth to complete. You will be reassured that these youth are working with career counselors to ensure they are prepared for employment.

• Community partners: Do you have experience working with youth? Do you already provide soft-skill training for local residents? Then, let’s collaborate. The City is interested in sharing resources to make sure training programs reach the greatest number of people as possible. We know that many community partners are also employers, so please see above for other ways to get involved.

The Working Cities Challenge is an initiative with a two-fold goal: to advance collaborative leadership in Massachusetts’ smaller cities and to support ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in those cities.

For more information about the program, or for businesses and residents interested in participating, contact Amanda Maher, amaher@somervillema.gov or 617-625-6600 x2528, for more information.

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