Collaboration is at the heart of a strong workforce development initiative.
For the JOBS Coalition, collaboration is rooted in public-private partnerships connecting community residents and faith-based organizations with construction companies and other businesses to develop long-term solutions to employment challenges. Working together strengthens apprenticeships, job training and placement programs, and educational opportunities for youth and adults. A discussion of workforce development includes addressing issues of vocational education, life skills training, employment for returning ex-offenders, and strategies for retaining employment for hired individuals.
The JOBS Coalition’s outreach efforts in workforce development extend to:
- Returning ex-offenders. Barriers to employment include housing, transportation, lack of education, a history of substance abuse or mental health challenges, and employer perception and liability concerns.
- High school students. Vocational education was once a staple of a school’s curriculum. Today, there is renewed interest in rebuilding traditional pathways to success by introducing students to carpentry, electrical and other skilled trades.
- Any underserved, underemployed or unemployed resident of the District of Columbia. Every District resident should have access to job skills training and educational opportunities that prepare them for the job market.
“We’re trying to get the city’s political body to understand that the business community is every bit as serious as they are about finding ways to employ people.”
— John McMahon, chairman, Miller & Long Concrete Construction
CTE: Career & Technical Education
Creative approaches to learning are vital to the academic and life success of students who may choose not to follow the typical high school to college path. That’s why the JOBS Coalition is dedicated to providing District students with access to training in skilled trades to prepare them for careers in the construction industry after graduation. Career and Technical Education, or CTE, includes training in trades such as carpentry and electrical. An academic-based program like that of the Academy of Construction and Design combines blueprint reading and other technical skills with core classes of math and science. Apprenticeship training in skilled trades also benefits adult students already working in the field. Through CTE, students at every level are able to explore opportunities for success.
Getting one’s life back on track is particularly challenging for returning ex-offenders, who face a series of barriers to employment after release from jail, prison or halfway housing. Drug addiction, illiteracy, lack of transportation, and housing issues are among the biggest obstacles this population faces following incarceration. Through job fairs, citywide issue forums and career development initiatives, the JOBS Coalition is working to remove these barriers while developing re-entry strategies to get these individuals hired.