Memphis Public Library bus offers unique service to job seekers

IMG_8898While many libraries around the country have special programs and services for job seekers, none can quite compare to the Memphis Public Library & Information Center’s mobile job search center.

Its JobLINC: Mobile Bus for Job Seekers and Employers gained the library the distinction as the 2014 Top Innovator in the economic and workforce development category, an award given by the Urban Libraries Council. And for good reason.

The library operates a 38-foot bus with 10 computer stations for job seekers and a station for recruiters who come on board. Patrons can work on resumes with help from librarians and take advantage of the online databases and computerized and hard copy reference materials.

“We go into the community to meet the people where they are,” says Robyn Stone, manager of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center’s JobLINC Services.

Although the program celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, the current bus is only about two years old. The library received a grant of $300,000 from the Plough Foundation to build and sustain the vehicle, which along with the computer workstations, has solar panels to allow it to operate without the use of a loud generator.

“The grant covered everything – the bus, furniture, books and safety equipment. It also left us with sustaining funds for programming as well as money to purchase other books and materials,” Stone said.

JobLINC travels to a variety of places that range from homeless shelters and grocery stores to apartment complexes, churches and community agencies. One of its busiest sites is DeafConnect of the Mid-South, Inc., which it visits once a month. The bus even goes to elementary schools for career days.

It operates between three and five days per week, usually from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and last year served between 6,000 and 7,000 people. That number includes attendees at the annual job fair held at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library.

JobLINC partners with organizations that include Tennessee Career Coach, a mobile career center operated by the Tennessee Department of Labor, which it did a joint session with this month at a men’s shelter.

Employers, who sometimes come onboard to recruit workers, have included the Veterans Administration, temporary employment agencies, Toys ‘R Us and Sears.

The bus also serves as a mobile classroom that can handle classes and workshops for up to 10 people.

The JobLINC program is an extension of the Library Information Center, a 211 agency that provides community and government information. The librarians who work in the program are Information & Referral Specialists, certified by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, a nonprofit professional membership association.

In addition to the bus, JobLINC produces a blog with job postings and also puts on a yearly well-attended job fair.

For more information, visit JobLINC.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Jails to Jobs book out on Amazon

PrintAt long last our book, Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed, is out and available on Amazon.

Since 2008, Jails to Jobs’ workshops and job search and restorative materials have reached more than 3,000 inmates. In our workshops, we help soon-to-be-released inmates explore meaning and purpose in their lives while they learn about job search strategies. This book is a direct result of our workshops, the materials we disseminate and the feedback we have received from inmates and other experts in the field.

If you are a regular reader of our blog or visitor to our website, you will find even more tips and information that will help you or the formerly incarcerated individuals you work with achieve job search success.

From adjusting attitudes and finding a free tattoo-removal program to creating a job search team and using a JIST card instead of a resume, the 176-page book suggests unconventional strategies that you may not have considered before. It even includes ways to highlight the skills you or your clients developed in prison rehabilitation and reentry.

Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed offers insight into how to deal with your “record,” recommending an approach that can be very effective if handled sincerely and honestly.

In addition, Jails to Jobs: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed shows applicants how to convince employers that hiring them makes financial sense – based on tax credits and a government bonding program. It also includes job-training resources for those who need an extra boost and information on self-employment for those who prefer a different path.

One reviewer on Amazon wrote, “There are so many specific suggestions in this book, if you do any 10 of them you’ll improve your chances of finding a job. If you seriously follow through the seven steps, you can be confident your growing job search skills will present your best self to the right potential employers. And – here’s a secret – you don’t have to be in reentry from detention to benefit from the sound advice in these pages.”

Yes, the book could work for anyone, and we’d be happy if people in the wider population find it useful. But it is those with criminal records who may need extra support, and for them this book has been written.

Although only recently released online, it is already being used to create a job training program in at least one state prison, and several others are interested in using it as well.

Whether you’re a formerly incarcerated job seeker, a job developer, a prison official or volunteer, or anyone who has a connection with those who have been released from prison and are looking for a job, we hope you’ll find this book useful.

To order a copy, please visit Amazon.com.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

New guide helps manufacturers create apprenticeship programs

ApprenticeshipProgramManualCoverU.S. Manufacturers are facing a serious shortage of skilled workers. Many applicants just don’t seem to have the skills necessary to produce the increasingly sophisticated products that American factories are creating.

While some companies are teaming up with community colleges and other partners to create training and apprenticeship programs, there seems to be far too few of them

Three major corporations – Dow, Alcoa and Siemens – have decided to help solve the problem by joining forces to create a coalition to build regional apprenticeship models that bring together employers and community colleges.

And together with The Manufacturing Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, they’ve also published the Employer’s Playbook for Building an Apprenticeship Program to teach other companies how to do it themselves.

This 115-page book serves as a how-to guide that companies of any size can use to help build a workforce-ready talent pipeline in communities across the country.

Readers are taken step by step through the process of establishing an apprenticeship program. The nine chapters cover everything from workforce planning and establishing public-private partnerships to selecting apprenticeship program participants and transitioning apprentices into permanent employment.

The book includes an extensive array of templates, tools, project plans and worksheets and tons of tips and advice that are useful to any company that might be interested in creating an apprenticeship program of their own. There are also links to a wide range of other resources that include everything from the Department of Labor and the National Governor’s Association to the National Association of Workforce Boards.

The playbook will also serve as an important resource for manufacturers and their partners who are interested in the U.S. Department of Labor’s American Apprenticeship Grants competition that is now open for applications.

These grants – up to $100 million in total – will be given to public-private partnerships that will include a combination of manufacturers as well as community colleges, nonprofits, unions and training organizations. The grants are being financed by the fees that employers pay to hire foreign workers to come work in the U.S. under the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program.

The goals of the grant competition are to:

  • Expand apprenticeship programs into high growth industries and occupations, especially those for which foreign workers on H-1B visas are hired.
  • Use apprenticeships to create new career pathways.
  • Offer more apprenticeship opportunities to job seekers and workers, especially those from groups that are underrepresented in traditional apprenticeship programs.

And with all the new training programs that will result from these grants, more Americans – including hopefully some who were formerly incarcerated – will be claiming some of those jobs currently being held by H-1B workers. At least that appears to be the goal.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Council of State Governments creates Pathways to Prosperity

The Pathways to Prosperity event in Atlanta last year attracted a large crowd of corporate executives, judges, workforce development officials and correctional officials, among others.

The Atlanta Pathways to Prosperity event held late last year attracted a large crowd of corporate executives, workforce development officials and correctional officials, among others.

The attitude of employers is often the biggest obstacle to employment for those with criminal records. It’s almost like hitting the proverbial brick wall.

But the Council of State Governments is out to change those entrenched attitudes. This nonprofit organization works with local, state and federal policymakers to strengthen communities and increase public safety and has created the Pathways to Prosperity initiative.

The initiative, part of the National Reentry Resource Center of the organization’s Justice Center, seeks to provide a policy and practice framework for states to better address workforce needs and to equip citizens with the skills, knowledge and qualifications needed for the 21st century global economy.

And part of this initiative is inspiring cities around the nation to find ways that the public and private sectors can work together to provide employment opportunities to people with criminal records.

Launched last summer at the White House, the initial event, moderated by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, included state-level policymakers, leaders from the corrections and workforce development field, nonprofit leaders, government officials and business executives from companies such as Home Depot, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, and Tim Hortons, Inc. It was virtually attended by more than 1,650 corrections, reentry and labor professionals from 41 states.

That original event has sparked others. So far they’ve taken place in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Indianapolis, Memphis and Los Angeles. Organized by various entities, usually a chamber of commerce or a nonprofit organization, these events have included a variety of attendees.

“There’s a mix of different stakeholders,” says Phoebe Potter, director of the Justice Center’s behavioral health program. “Businesses are our primary stakeholders, but we’re also encouraging local and state officials, core policymakers at the state and local level, corrections officials, workforce development professionals and other providers to become involved.”

Each event is different, depending on the place and the goals of the sponsoring organization. Here are the details of the past gatherings:

  • Los Angeles: This February event, sponsored by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, was held at the Men’s Central Jail, the first of these gatherings to take place in a correctional institution. It brought business leaders together with correction officials.
  • Memphis: Organized by the CSG’s National Reentry Resource Center and Memphis Tomorrow, this closed-door event held in January served as a preliminary dialogue among a group that included business executives, Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr., among other state and local leaders.
  • Indianapolis: Sponsored by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Marion County Reentry Coalition, the December event drew attendees to the city’s Ironworker’s Union Hall. A city-county council member, the deputy director of the city’s Department of Public Safety and executives from local businesses addressed the group.
  • Atlanta: Business leaders from companies like Home Depot, judges, workforce development officials, correctional officials and others attended this large-scale gathering in November.
  • Washington, D.C.: DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, corporate executives and officials from the EEOC and DC Office on Returning Citizens Affairs were among the speakers at the September event, which was sponsored by the Council for Court Justice,

What does The Council on State Governments hope these events will achieve?

“Our initial ask was just to talk, to start a dialogue. We felt that what was missing was a chance to help break down some of the stigma, the concerns about this population,” said Potter. “We really want to think about solutions that are collaborative – that businesses can get behind.”

To learn how you can hold a similar event in your area contact the Justice Center of The Council of State Governments.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Maritime industry offers opportunities to ex-offenders

The welding program at Seattle's Harbor Island Training Center is a joint venture between Vigor Industrial and South Seattle Community College.

The welding program at Seattle’s Harbor Island Training Center is a joint venture between Vigor Industrial and South Seattle Community College.

Formerly incarcerated job seekers may want to check out jobs in the maritime trades, and a new maritime painting class in the San Francisco Bay Area is just one example of some of the opportunities that exist.

A joint venture between the College of Alameda and Bay Ship & Yacht, the program is seeking out those on probation, formerly homeless individuals and veterans to fill the first four-week class, which will take place in September. And those who do well may have a job offer at the end.

“This is a pilot class, and ideally we want to offer it on a regular basis,” said Chris Rochette, who helped develop the program and serves as training manager at Bay Ship & Yacht Co., a full service shipyard. “We want this to coincide with our hiring cycle, so we would offer one class in the winter and one in the fall.”

There is no prerequisite to apply. “They’re supposed to go from zero experience to us hiring them,” he said. Alameda College instructors will teach most of the classes, and Bay Ship & Yacht employees will assist in the hands-on instruction.

“Those employees can get a good feel for the people in the class, and if they do well, the goal is for us to hire them. We are a second-chance employer, and this offers a really good opportunity for people to get back on their feet.”

The program is modeled after Seattle’s Harbor Island Training Center, which, like the Alameda program, is a joint venture between a shipbuilder, Vigor Industrial, and an educational institution, South Seattle Community College.

Harbor Island offers the two-quarter, 5-1/2-month Welding Intensive for Maritime & Manufacturing Environments program that is is taught onsite by industry professionals at Vigor’s shipyards.

“The purpose of this program is to keep this vital industry alive when many members of the workforce are aging out,” said Kevin Maloney director of communications for South Seattle College. “It gives students the marketable skills they need to earn a living wage.” The average salary for a graduate of the program is just over $45,000 per year.

Graduates have been hired by Vigor, but the skills they learn are applicable to jobs at any shipyard anywhere.

Vigor Industrial has a similar joint venture with Portland Community College, which opened its new Swan Island Trades Center last September. The welding classes are taught at the Vigor Industrial Welding Training Center at its Swan Island Ship Repair Yard.

East Coast programs

On the opposite end of the country, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association sponsors a six-week Marine Trades Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program that teaches a variety of entry-level skills, including painting, varnishing, rigging, forklift operation and shrink wrapping. These skills prepare graduates to be hired by area yacht builders and others.

As part of the program, which is held twice a year, students participate in a six-day job shadow with a local employer in an area of work that they are interested in.

Participants, who must be Rhode Island residents, attend sessions at various places throughout the state, including venues in Newport, Bristol and Portsmouth. The program is free to students, and those who don’t miss any days will receive $100 per week in compensation.

The Marine Trades Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program is funded through the Governor’s Workforce Board Rhode Island and has a 90% job placement rate for its graduates.

Another opportunity to get involved in maritime trades is a series of apprenticeship programs offered by Tidewater Community College and local maritime businesses in Suffolk, Va. These provide training for such positions as dock master, rigger, ship fitter, welder, electrician and painter. Participants take classes at the college and can earn an associate degree, in addition to gaining employment in the maritime industry.

The apprenticeship section of the Tidewater Community College’s website includes a list of companies that sponsor the apprenticeship programs. They range from BAE Systems and CDI Marine to Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Newport News Shipbuilding.

If you are interested in considering employment in the maritime industries, learning more about the programs in this article may be a good place to begin your search.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

RAND Corp. study calls for greater attention to inmate education

classroom-381900_640In its “How Effective is Correctional Education, and Where do We Go From Here?” research report, the RAND Corp. evaluated the content, funding and future of education programs at correctional facilities across the U.S.

Through funding from the Second Chance Act of 2007, the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice engaged RAND Corp. to research the status of correctional education. The results, laid out in this thought-provoking report released last year, call for more attention and research to be dedicated to this crucial issue.

With 40% of the 700,000 people who are released from federal and state prisons each year reincarcerated within three years, something has to be done – and that something should start with education and vocational programs that will help give them the skills they need to gain employment and stay out of prison, the study contends.

RAND researchers looked at four types of education: instruction in such basic skills as reading, writing and arithmetic; high school education to prepare for the GED; vocational education; and college level classes that could lead to an A.A. or B.A. degree. One requirement to be considered was that the education program take place – at least in part – within a correctional facility.

In evaluating 58 previous empirical research studies – selected from 1,112 conducted between 1980 and 2011 – the RAND researchers discovered that “on average, inmates who participated in correctional education programs had a 43% lower odds of recidivating than inmates who did not.”

They also found that “the odds of obtaining employment post-release among inmates who participated in correctional education (either academic or vocational/career and technical education programs) were 13% higher than the odds for those who did not.”

The study included the RAND Correctional Education Survey, a web-based survey of correctional education directors in all 50 states conducted in July 2013. Representatives of 46 out of the 50 states responded.

The survey revealed that:

  • Most states provide basic education, vocational educational/CTE programs and GED courses.
  • 32 states provide secondary and post-secondary education.
  • 24 states have a mandatory education participation requirement for those without a high school diploma or GED.

In spite of the critical need for computer skills to get work these days, many states’ correctional facilities are lacking in computer training:

  • 39 states offer desktop computers and 17 states laptops for use for instructional purposes.
  • 24 states offer Microsoft Office certification.
  • 26 states prevent inmate students from access to Internet technology.

After studying data and the educational situations in 46 states, the RAND Corp. came up with a series of recommendations that include:

  • Determine what works and what doesn’t work so that “policymakers and state correctional education directors can make informed trade-offs in budget discussions.”
  • Encourage governments and nonprofits to fund “evaluations of programs that illustrate different educational instructional models, that are trying innovative strategies to implement technology and leverage distance learning in the classroom, and are analyzing what lessons from the larger literature on adult education may be applied to correctional education.“
  • “Conduct new research on instructional quality in correctional education settings and on ways to leverage computer technology to enhance instruction.”
  • “Conduct a summit at the state and federal levels with private industry about what opportunities are available to formerly incarcerated individuals and what skills will be needed in the future.”

For more information about the nonprofit RAND Corp. and the research it does visit its website.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Oregon Youth Authority expands tattoo removal program

The doctors who volunteer at the Oregon Youth Authority's tattoo removal program are Dr. Carolyn Hale, Dr. Harold Boyd, Dr. J. Mark Roberts and Dr. Michael Wicks.

The doctors who volunteer at the Oregon Youth Authority’s tattoo removal program are Dr. Carolyn Hale, Dr. Harold Boyd, Dr. J. Mark Roberts and Dr. Michael Wicks.

Removing tattoos during incarceration is an excellent way to help those who have gang-related or anti-social tattoos begin to leave their past lives behind. Considering the effectiveness of these programs, it’s surprising that there are not more of them around, especially for youth.

Perhaps other youth correctional facilities will be inspired by the success of the Oregon Youth Authority’s tattoo removal program. Until October, the program, which has operated at the Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility in Salem for about 15 years, had only a single volunteer doctor – a dermatologist named Carolyn Hale – who performs the tattoo removal procedures on a weekly basis.

Hale had been volunteering her services for years, and she and the doctor who founded the program even paid for a replacement laser device when the original one wore out. She had long hoped to expand her efforts, and her wish has finally come true.

An article in the Statesman Journal, Salem’s local newspaper, last year that included an interview with Dr. Hale  brought wide publicity for the program. Last fall, soon after it was published, four volunteer doctors – three retired orthopedics surgeons and a retired family physician – a nurse and a physician assistant, came on board to volunteer. And it happened none too soon.

“We have so many youth on the waiting list. The additional support will help us serve more youth so they don’t have to wait so long for treatment,” says Griselda Solano Salinas, multicultural coordinator/tattoo removal program coordinator, who works for the Oregon Youth Authority’s Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations and organizes the program at the Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility.

All procedures will continue to take place at Hillcrest because it’s too difficult and complicated to move the tattoo removal laser device. Boys are brought from four facilities and girls from one. The goal, according to Solano Salinas, is to increase how often the tattoo removal clinic is offered to at least three times per month and then add more sessions as needed.

“We want to help and motivate our youth to achieve their goals by reducing pressures to return to gang or anti-social activities. Removal of these tattoos has an immediate impact on their acceptance by potential employers and society,” she says.

“During the past 18 years I have observed the benefits of tattoo removal. I see youth who participated in our program go on to enroll in school, apply for jobs, enlist in the military, and become productive, crime-free citizens.”

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Job search tactics: Getting to the hiring manager

business-170645_640In these days when job boards and company websites can suck resumes into a black hole never to be seen again, it’s often only those eager to try different tactics who will find success.

But it’s not easy. And it takes a lot of work. You have to be proactive, not passive. The ultimate goal is to approach the person who has the power to give you what you want – a job.

Forget the human resources departments. They’re just there to weed applicants out. Your goal is to get to the manager of the department in which you are interested in working.That person is usually also the hiring manger. In most cases in smaller companies – maybe those with 20 employees or less – the owner would be the hiring manager.

In order to get to the hiring manager, you must learn to think like a detective and gather clues to discover who in a certain company might be able to hire you. Taking some or all of the following steps can help get you on your way.

Make a list

The first thing to do is make a list of companies that have the type of work you’d like to do. Start with maybe 25 or so and expand from there. If you are familiar with Excel, create a spreadsheet or use any method you feel comfortable with – even pencil and paper will do. Include the company name, address, website URL and the main phone number. Leave space to fill in the name of the hiring manager of the department you would like to work in, as well as their direct phone number and email address.

Search the Internet

Do a search using the names of each company and the title of the hiring manager, for example XYZ Corp. + warehouse manager. This may bring up articles in which those people were mentioned or a list of company managers or executives. It could also lead you to the LinkedIn profile of the very person who has that position. Sometimes a search won’t reveal anything, so don’t be disappointed. This is just one of many tactics that you can use.

Check out company websites

It’s important to learn as much as possible about the companies you’d like to work for, and one of the best ways to do this is by exploring their websites. Many companies have newsrooms and media centers, which are actually designed to help journalists but can also be a wealth of information for anyone who’s savvy enough to check them out. You may find a list of company managers, or press releases that often quote various managers on topics that may be newsworthy or of interest to the general public.

Call and ask

Call the company’s main phone number and ask for the name of the manager of the department that you are interested in. Tell the receptionist that you want to contact that person and make sure you ask the proper spelling of their name and what their official title is.

Once you know that person’s name, you can search for them online and check out their LinkedIn profile, which can be a wealth of information about the manager’s career experience and even personal interests.

Mine social media for info

If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, open one right away and create a profile. Then invite as many people as you can to be in your network. LinkedIn is an invaluable treasure trove of information about people and the companies they work for.

In order to use LinkedIn to see if you have a connection to someone who might be employed at a company you’re interested in, go to LinkedIn.com and search for the name of the company. Click on that company, and the names of the people in your network who are working there will pop up. Contact those people, no matter what department they’re in, and ask them for information on what it’s like to be employed there and to introduce you to people in departments you might be interested in.

Besides LinkedIn, you may want to also check out Google+ and Twitter, which are also very good sources of information about what’s going on at companies and serve as additional ways to contact hiring managers who might be active on those platforms.

Trying some or all of these tactics will get you closer to the hiring managers who have the power to employ you. And if they don’t happen to have any openings, they may know friends or colleagues who do.

In a job search, as in many areas of life, it’s who you know – as well as what you know – that counts.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Texas nonprofit hires ex-offenders to build houses for veterans

Maria Pic

Maria Schneider, Terra Shelter, Inc.

Maria Schneider is out to change the construction industry in Dallas, Texas, one ex-offender at time. Her way to do this: By building a nonprofit that sells rehabbed homes to veterans at below market rate prices and hires employees who were formerly incarcerated.

Her original plan was to rehab houses, but how she decided to hire formerly incarcerated workers came about in a rather serendipitous way.

Trained as an electrical engineer and a biomedical engineer, Schneider got started in construction in her late 20s. The only house she could afford to buy needed a lot of work, and she did it in her spare time. She loved the process and later launched a construction company.

“I had a residential custom building business in the mid 2000s. It was in Austin, and there was an economic boom there,” she says. “The only people I could find to work were ex-offenders, and I got to know them really well and started understanding some of the issues involved in reentry.”

These issues ranged from a lack of a place to live and bad relationships with family members to substance abuse and access to reliable transportation. Another issue was not having a way to make money, which Schneider solved by hiring them.

It wasn’t easy though. “You really have to start from scratch and teach them a lot of things besides the job. You have to teach them a lot of life skills and tell them what to do,” she says.

“But ex-offenders are excluded by a lot of places automatically, so if someone doesn’t include them they’re not going to end up with jobs. A lot of programs provide job training but not jobs. You have to provide them not just with the job training but a job that goes along with it, so they’ll have some income while they’re developing skills and be able to show some experience on their resume.”

After starting to build homes again and forming a nonprofit, Terra Shelter, Inc., Schneider remembered those workers she had once hired and wanted to create jobs for others like them. And she has. In fact, she has made it her mission to do so.

Although Schneider is just, as she says, starting out, her organization has already rehabbed five homes built in the 1920s and 1930s – most of which had to be completely gutted – and located in some of the worst neighborhoods in the city of Dallas.

She’s teamed up with the Tarrant County Housing Partnership. The organization works with several banks, which are required by the government to donate some of the foreclosed homes they receive to nonprofits as part of an anti-blight effort.

The organization began about a year and a half ago, when it received donated houses that were in pretty bad shape. “While our focus was on providing affordable housing, in the process I decided that what I really wanted to do was to work with ex-offenders and teach them the skills they needed to do the job,” she says.

Although working with employees who have been incarcerated has more than its share of challenges, Schneider has found many of them to be very loyal and hard working.

Up until now, she has hired people rather randomly. In the rough and tumble neighborhood of southeast Dallas where her nonprofit works rehabbing houses, she’s often approached by ex-offenders looking for work.

After dealing with the unreliability of some of the workers she hired this way, Schneider decided this recruitment method was unsustainable and has partnered with the Oasis Center, a nonprofit organization providing reentry services and mentoring that help formerly incarcerated individuals get a new start.

In the meantime, her site supervisor is an ex-offender, and Schneider tries to hire as many formerly incarcerated individuals as possible. If she can’t, however, she turns to veterans. Her plumber and electricians fall into this category.

The houses she’s rehabbed have been a really good learning experience, but as a sustainability consultant, Schneider is passionate about green building and would like to get into new home construction. “Trying to build green and affordable is kind of radical here in Texas,” she says.

But no doubt so is hiring ex-offenders. And both are challenges she’s determined to take on.

 

Jails to Jobs is searching for ideas for this blog. If you know of a company that is hiring ex-offenders, or if you have unique job search tips that could assist ex-offenders in finding employment or are aware of organizations or agencies doing exceptional things that benefit ex-offenders in their job search efforts, we'd love to hear from you.

Is a college degree necessary to get a good job?

MP900314164Many college grads are deep in debt with college loans these days. You’ve heard the news. They can’t find a job. Living at home. Some have given up and don’t know what to do.

Which brings up the question: Is a college education really necessary? Can you get a good job without it?

Although there are a lot of conflicting opinions, the answer is basically yes, you can get a good job without a college education. In fact for those in reentry, it might be better to look toward an apprenticeship, certificate program or other specialized training that will lead to a specific job.

High dropout rates, excessive debt

Going the college route, in fact, can be a gamble, with the chances of graduation not guaranteed. According to the Institute of Education Sciences of the National Center for Education Statistics, (part of the U.S. Department of Education), only 59% of first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their college education in 2006 had graduated by 2012.

And on top of that, 71% of those who did graduate from four-year colleges in 2012 carried student debt, according to the Project on Student Debt of the Oakland, Calif.-based Institute for College Access & Success. The average debt level for graduates was $29,400, a 25% increase over the amount of debt graduates carried in 2008.

To make matters worse, according to a 2014 Accenture college graduate employment survey, 41% of recent college graduates are earning $25,000 or less.

Although even with a degree many recent college grads can’t find work, the unemployment situation may ease a bit, if job creation forecasts are any indication.

Job creation forecasts show hope

In “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements Through 2020,” a study released by the Center on Education and the Workforce of Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, the U.S. economy will grow to 165 million jobs by 2020. This is a nearly 18% increase over the number in 2012.

During this time period there will be 55 million job openings as a result of baby boomers retiring and the creation of new positions.

Of the upcoming job openings:

36% will not require any education beyond high school

35% will require at least a bachelor’s degree

30% will require an associate’s degree or some college

If the total number of jobs are broken down by occupation, these are the ones in which workers are least likely to need a college degree. The numbers are the percentages of the total number of jobs that only will require a high school diploma or less.

  • Health care support: 42%
  • Transportation and utilities services: 45%
  • Manufacturing 47%
  • Leisure and hospitality: 50%
  • Food and personal services: 57%
  • Construction: 63%
  • Natural resources: 66%
  • Blue collar trades: 66%

No college degree required for these good jobs

Among some of the specific jobs that only require a high school diploma – according to analysis by Careerbuilder.com that was included in an August Forbes.com website article – are:

  • Transportation, storage and distributions managers. Median hourly pay: $39.27
  • Gaming managers. Median hourly pay: $31.99
  • Real estate broker. Median hourly pay: $29.48
  • Construction and extraction worker supervisor. Median hourly pay: $29.20
  • Legal support workers. Median hourly pay: $26.97
  • Postal service mail carriers. Median hourly pay: $26.75

Although these jobs don’t formally require more than a high school diploma, some jobs do require on-the-job training or participation in an apprenticeship program. The advantage is that the training is a part of paid employment, unlike a college or even a community college education. And the effort will often result in steady, well paying jobs that, for the most part, are expected to remain in demand.

Visit your nearest American Job Center to find out more about the training and apprenticeship programs your area.

 

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