For the past six weeks, 26 long-term unemployed individuals had a new reason to get up every morning, thanks to the WCA and the ‘Jobs Waiting’ program, a $9.8 million federal Ready to Work grant managed by the WCA. Known regionally as “Jobs Waiting,” the program provides specialized training and support services to 425 long-term unemployed individuals in the Hudson Valley. On Friday, the WCA hosted a graduation for its first ‘boot camp’ participants, some of whom already have job applications out and interviews lined up with top employers in the region.
The 'Jobs Waiting' team
“This program is ideal for employers who looking to identify and hire top talent,” says Joe DiCarlo, senior vice president and director of human resources, WESTMED Practice Partners, which employs 1,500 people in the region. “Jobs Waiting saves us time because it gives us a vetted pipeline of new talent. We spend a lot of time trying to find the right people for the right job, and these participants have not only learned soft skills critical to working in a professional environment; they are focused on the next step in their careers and ready for additional training.” WESTMED is already interviewing candidates from this boot camp class for open positions, according to DiCarlo.
The WCA has amassed a dedicated team to manage the Jobs Waiting program, which is administered by the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board in partnership with the Employment Centers throughout seven Hudson Valley counties, including a program manager, career coaches, and job developers.
“For the WCA, the Jobs Waiting project aligns with the goals of the BLUEPRINT for Westchester initiative to not only boost business development and encourage Westchester’s health care innovation hub to grow, but to build a talent pipeline to match,” says Amy Allen, WCA vice president. In addition to overseeing the Jobs Waiting program, the WCA is upgrading the skills of existing health care employees through the Hudson Valley Workforce Academy. The Academy offers short-term certificate-based courses in data analytics, critical thinking, empathy training, communication, and management, among others
The Workplace, a nationally recognized company in Bridgeport, CT, runs the boot camp, which is in session six hours a day, four days a week, for six weeks. The WCA career coaches provide one-on-one counseling, and participants discover how they can transfer existing skills to a new health care career. The experience is designed to be transformational and prepare long-term unemployed individuals for work. During the ceremony, graduates shared moving testimonials who described a newfound motivation to re-enter the workforce.
“I have a strong self-confidence now that I didn’t have six weeks ago,” said Eric Applewhite. “Now I know how to use sites like LinkedIn to showcase my strengths.” Divya Uttamchandani, another boot camp graduate who plans to work in healthcare technology, echoed this sentiment. “The most valuable part of my experience was getting my confidence back. I have a new focus on which career path to pursue came into focus because of this program,” she said.
After boot camp, each program participant will pursue an individualized path. Those with transferrable skills will be placed in jobs. Others will receive free specialized training in their selected health care discipline. If participants need to take courses at a community college or the Hudson Valley Workforce Academy, the program will provide them with tuition subsidies of up to $6,000. Recognizing that participants may require on-the-job or specialized training once employed, Jobs Waiting offers employers a 50% cash reimbursement for customized training costs.
“There are a lot of healthcare employers in the region, and we’re all competing for the same candidates. This program gives us a bigger, more attractive pool of talent,” said Eric Saidel, director of human resources at ENT&Allergy Associates. “They have taken the first step in a serious way to a new career, with a demonstrated commitment and reliability. These candidates are very attractive to us.”