|In February 2020, Richard returned home. He moved into transitional housing at Harbor Light and began career readiness training with them. “I knew I needed to get a job,” Richard said. But getting a job with barriers such as a record is tough…getting a job with a record during a pandemic? Uncharted territory. While completing his classes at Harbor Light, Richard was referred to Towards Employment.
Richard met the criteria for Towards Employment’s PACE program. Promoting Access to Credentials and Employment is a training program for former justice-involved individuals returning to the labor force. It is funded by a grant from the Department of Labor that TE was awarded in July of 2019. PACE prepares individuals for in-demand jobs – currently jobs in manufacturing, construction and IT.
After his job readiness preparation and consultation with his career coach, Richard was able to get additional hands-on experience and training. ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers, a workforce collaboration launched by the Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership, was one of the only in person classes operating at this time with activities directly linked to employer need. “I learned how to use micrometers, calipers, and measurement tools. Coming from construction, that’s all really different.” “When I first got in, I thought it wasn’t going to make a difference for me,” he recalls, “but everything Towards Employment tells you is key to working in manufacturing –and being good at it too”.
Passing a mock interview is part of the criteria for graduating from any Towards Employment program. Practicing this soft-skill helps get participants ready and comfortable for any real interviews they go on after workshop – it is especially critical for participants with involvement in the criminal justice system. And for Richard, it paid off. At the close of workshop, local manufacturing employers were brought in to recruit and conduct interviews with the class. “I had my eye on one of the local manufacturing companies, and I guess I stood out during my interviews. They jumped on hiring me right away,” said Richard, who is now going into his second week of employment as a press operator. He’s taking advantage of all of the opportunities to learn in his workplace, but in the meantime, he says he’s just glad he can “go to work with a smile on [his] face” knowing he’s doing something he actually likes.
Know someone who might qualify for PACE? Tell them to call us at 216.696.5750.