Incentive grants awarded to five career centers to promote continued workforce training and hiring of veterans
BOSTON – The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development today announced that five of the state’s 32 One-Stop Career Centers have been honored for outstanding service to Massachusetts veterans.
Through the U.S. Department of Labor’s Jobs for Veterans State Grant Program, the Massachusetts Department of Career Services (DCS) annually awards incentive grants to recognize One-Stop Career Centers for their efforts in demonstrating improvement and modernization of employment, training and placement services for veterans; rewarding and celebrating excellence in priority of service; developing a library of best practice techniques; and improving performance outcomes for veterans.
“Veterans have proudly served our Commonwealth and country, gaining tremendous skills that can be applied in today’s workforce,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne F. Goldstein. “Assisting veterans with workforce training and employment opportunities is an important initiative for the Patrick Administration as well as the Obama Administration. We thank the U.S. Department of Labor for continuing to help Massachusetts recognize leading Career Centers for their hard work and innovative programs in support of these brave men and women.”
“Massachusetts is the national leader in providing comprehensive veterans’ services for many reasons, but none more so than the strong collaborations we have made to maximize our resources and provide world-class, comprehensive benefits to our veterans and their families,” said Department of Veterans’ Services Secretary Coleman Nee. “Finding employment is an essential component to a successful transition for any veteran. The work of the Division of Career Services and the career centers is another great example of federal, state and local resources combining to ensure veterans succeed in that transition. I applaud the Secretary and her team and congratulate all recipients.”
At a recent Workforce Partners’ meeting including career centers, veterans’ agents and workforce investment boards, Secretary Goldstein and DCS Director Alice Sweeney recognized the outstanding efforts of the selected One-Stop Career Centers, acknowledging the substantial contribution, high quality service and dedication to improving employment opportunities for veterans and whose contributions involving veterans extend to the local community at large. Through the U.S. Department of Labor’s non-competitive Jobs for Veterans State Grants Program, the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) offers employment and training services to eligible veterans. Under this grant program, funds are allocated to State Workforce Agencies in direct proportion to the number of veterans seeking employment within their state.
The five recognized Career Centers for the 2013 Jobs for Veterans State Grant Incentive Award include:
Gold Award: $10,500
ValleyWorks Career Center, Lawrence and Haverhill
ValleyWorks Career Center currently boasts the highest veteran entered employment rate across the Commonwealth. ValleyWorks Career Center was also recently awarded a grant through the Walmart Foundation to “Close the Gap” in services for veterans, supporting occupational training for veterans who are ineligible to receive other state or federal job training. ValleyWorks Career Center, which emphasizes a strong partnership with local veteran organizations in the community, developed the Merrimack Valley Veterans Coalition. Staff also apply a holistic approach in serving veteran jobseekers, providing a Veteran Services Referral form to identify, connect, and track services to Veterans. Eric Nelson of Haverhill and Clifton “Bryhn” McLeod of Georgetown are the Veteran Employment Representatives for ValleyWorks Career Center.
“The ValleyWorks Career Center staff is committed and dedicated to assist veterans by providing quality training and employment services that utilize their former skills to re-enter the workforce, earning a good wage with career ladders,” said Arthur Chilingirian, Executive Director of the ValleyWorks Career Center. “We prioritize our services to those men and women who selflessly served our country.”
Silver Award: $8,250
Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Northampton
Franklin Hampshire Career Center demonstrates effective collaboration and applies innovative resources to better serve the veteran community. As a 2012 Jobs for Veterans State Grant Incentive Award winner, Franklin Hampshire Career Center used a portion of its award to purchase flash drives for their veteran customers to facilitate storage for discharge documents, resumes, and other documents and pre-loaded the flash drives with Job Search tools and veteran specific support information, a best practice recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. Gary Howe of Easthampton is the Veteran Employment Representative for Franklin Hampshire Career Center, and created user-friendly in-house outreach assessment forms for veterans to assist with service and case management.
“Gary Howe has been employed in the Franklin Hampshire Workforce system for over 20 years working as a job developer, youth programs coordinator and for the past 3 years as a Veterans Representative. He has excelled in all assignments,” said Michael Truckey, Executive Director of the Franklin Hampshire Career Center.
Bronze Award: $6,125
Career Source, Cambridge
Career Source promotes innovative programs to better serve the veteran community including the creation of a six-week pilot program to co-facilitate a veterans CONNECT group. CONNECT is a collaboration of six non-profits organizations, providing peer support, motivation and encouragement in one location to assists veterans to move into employment and a career path that will lead to self-sufficiency. By the end of the six week series of meetings, six of the eight participating veterans obtained employment and a seventh received an offer letter. With the success of this pilot, Career Source plans to continue the CONNECT group series two to three times a year. Dennis Pellegrino of North Andover is the Veteran Employment Specialist for Career Source.
“The job search strategies shared by the group facilitators were an important component of this project,” said Linda Rohrer, Executive Director of Career Source. “However, key to the effort of this success was the bond that formed among the veterans as they shared their stories and provided valuable support to each other.”
Upcoming Star Award: $2,563
Job Net, Boston
JobNet has demonstrated effective collaborations to assist veterans in obtaining their career goals. In May 2013, Job Net partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Massachusetts Committee, the Red Sox Organization, and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to hold a “Hiring our Heroes” veterans hiring event at Fenway Park that attracted over 480 veterans. Throughout the year, Job Net also arranged services from a local law firm to provide monthly pro-bono services to help Veterans with a CORI record to potentially seal those records and to lead to sustainable employment. Michael Falasca of Peabody is the Veteran Employment Specialist at Job Net.
“I believe that there is no greater service than that given by the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country,” said Rosemary Alexander, Executive Director of JobNet Career Center. “It is an honor and a privilege to serve those who have served. I firmly believe that it is only fitting that we should provide priority of service for our veterans utilizing the Career Centers. Our own veteran staff person at JobNet – Michael Falasca, DVOP – does an outstanding job of ensuring that veteran customers receive the highest quality career development services. We thank our veterans for their service.”
Upcoming Star: $2,563
The Greater New Bedford Career Center, New Bedford
The Greater New Bedford Career Center has made providing front-line services, including unemployment matters, for veterans a top priority. The Greater New Bedford Career Center was one the first Career Centers to utilize the work study program through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, providing veterans the opportunity to learn about workforce development while also attending school and receiving a stipend to supplement income. For example, a veteran participating in the work study program first worked at New Directions South Coast, a career center partnering agency, and recently obtained employment with the Commonwealth at the center. Paul Champagne of Rochester is the Veteran Employment Specialist at the Greater New Bedford Career Center.
“We provide an exceptional level of service to all our customers and we take pride in providing the highest level of service possible to all our veterans,” said Steven Martins, Operations Manager at the Greater New Bedford Career Center.
The Patrick Administration is a leading provider for veteran services and continues to implement employment assistance and workforce training programs for members of the armed forces, veterans and their spouses. Veterans receive priority service at each of DCS’s 32 One-Stop Career Centers around the Commonwealth. Each One-Stop Career Center has a staff member dedicated to assisting veterans. In the last fiscal year, DCS provided services to approximately 14,000 veterans in the Commonwealth. In 2011, the Administration launched an aggressive employment campaign focused on increasing the hiring of Massachusetts veterans. Among these initiatives, the Patrick Administration has partnered with major trade associations to encourage them to hire veterans, circulate information on veterans’ benefits and educate local employers about the skills service members gain the military.
To lead by example, Governor Deval Patrick called for the establishment of an Interagency Taskforce on Hiring Veterans within the Executive Branch. The Secretary of Administration and Finance charged the head of the Human Resources Division along with Taskforce members to take a critical look at the Executive Branch’s current policies, processes and practices on hiring veterans and completed a plan in 2012. In March of this year, the Governor signed an executive order to help small businesses owned by disabled veterans gain access to contracts for public projects in the areas of construction, design and goods and services procurement and also announced the establishment of guidelines to assist members of the armed forces, veterans and their spouses with professional licenses so that they can prepare and apply for job in the Commonwealth.