Workforce development programs getting residents jobs, access to job preparation services,
as more initiatives scheduled to launch in coming months
SOMERVILLE – As Somerville residents are gaining employment at Assembly Row and learning job preparation skills
through the City’s First Source local hiring and workforce development program, an online job and talent bank and a program helping young adults access jobs is readying for launch this coming month.
The City’s First Source movement is working to create a streamlined system through which employers can easily find local talent for their job openings, prepare residents for upcoming openings and build relationships with employers to advocate for local hiring and give Somerville residents a first look at open positions. First Source program staff will also work to match local residents to local jobs, and track hiring information to ensure that the program is working well.
Assembly Row on pace to achieve 40 percent local hire rate
Early data indicates that the initial system is working. At Assembly Row, information provided by retailers through April 2014 indicates that Assembly Row is on pace to achieve at least a 40 percent local hire rate, which exceeds the national First Source movement goal of 30 percent. This success has been achieved by the City partnering with Federal Realty (FRIT), developer of Assembly Row, to ensure that local residents are aware of and prepared for local jobs. FRIT has conducted five job fairs for Assembly Row since March 1, with the first two fairs designed specifically to give Somerville residents a first look at and apply for jobs at the development.
Of the approximately 1,000 people who attended any of the five job fairs, 715 submitted employment applications, with almost half of those applications from Somerville residents. After screening application for age, required experience and tangible skills, between 350 and 400 applications moved forward in the hiring process after screening—with 297 of those applications from Somerville residents, meaning that somewhere between 74 and 85 percent of the screened applications are from Somerville residents.
Additional efforts at Assembly Row include FRIT’s online job portal that lists current employment opportunities and allows residents to submit their contact information, so they can be alerted when new job openings come on line. FRIT also sends letters to hiring managers after commercial tenants sign their lease informing them of Somerville’s commitment to help residents access local jobs.
Preparing residents, assessing their skills and connecting them with jobs
Those letters to Assembly Row tenants now contain contact information for the Somerville Community Corporation (SCC), which has entered a two-year $100,000 contract with the City to develop a local First Source model and provide workforce development services to residents. SCC has partnered with The Career Place (TCP), the Woburn-based career center that serves Somerville residents and now has a staff person in Somerville with SCC twice each week to better serve Somerville residents.
SCC and TCP reach out to Somerville residents, informing them about the job preparation services available to them, and participating residents go through an extensive process that assesses their existing skills, work history, career interests and financial literacy. SCC and TCP then host a variety of workshops to prepare clients for local employment opportunities, including resume writing, mock interviews and soft-skill training such as group dynamics and conflict resolution. SCC and TCP are also cultivating relationships with local employers to identify job opportunities and so that when opportunities become available, hiring managers contact SCC directly in order to give SCC’s client base a first look at local jobs.
Using funds from the City’s Workforce Development grant, the SCC will launch an online Talent Bank and Jobs Bank this June. The Talent Bank will include residents who are looking for employment, including an overview of their skills and employment interests. The Jobs Bank will be a local jobs board of Somerville-specific opportunities, available to SCC clients interested in searching for Somerville-based jobs. SCC and TCP will help to create matches across these online databases.
Reaching low-income, under and unemployed young adults
Applications are also 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, and businesses, residents and community partners are encouraged to participate and help put the City’s youth on a path to prosperity. An information session will be held on Tuesday, June 4, from 6-8 p.m. at Somerville Community Corporation, 337 Somerville Ave.
“Pocket Change” is funded by a $100,000 Working Cities Challenge grant awarded to the City by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and is a partnership between the City, Somerville Community Corporation and The Career Place.