Archive for » April 13th, 2012«

Westside employment agency set to lead green revolution

Growing up near the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Ron Tonn gained an abiding appreciation during his formative years for the struggles faced by former inmates as they re-entered society after their incarceration.

That appreciation eventually led the Purdue University alumnus to a career committed to assisting ex-offenders in overcoming the critical hurdles they face when they have served their terms of imprisonment.  Currently, Tonn pursues his commitment as the Chief Program Officer of the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN).  That distinction also places him and the 11-year-old West Side nonprofit workforce development agency at the forefront of funding in Chicago’s apportionment of the recently announced statewide Urban Weatherization Initiative.

Focusing on assisting unemployed jobseekers in North Lawndale and surrounding neighborhoods initially, Tonn said NLEN’s current level of support for ex-offenders simply reflect the reality of conditions on the ground.  NLEN’s statistics reveal more than 56 percent of its clientele in North Lawndale has had prior connection to the criminal justice system.

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“They didn’t set out to specifically serve ex-offenders” Tonn said at the organization’s West Side offices April 10.  “What happened is that when they opened the doors, that is who showed up.  It’s a huge, huge impact, and it’s just gotten worse over time as more barriers in the private sector of employment have sprung up, making it harder and harder for them to get through the door.”

Tonn said the $325, 407 in funding NLEN has been awarded in the $1.3 million UWI program represents a “unique opportunity” to expand the core of the agency’s three-pronged approach to its mission.  The agency’s programs aim at facilitating the job acquisition, retention and stabilization prospects of its clients. And as the 21st Century economy increasingly relies on a green model, training and jobs financed by UWI dollars become even more significant investments in stable and productive futures in one of the city’s most distressed communities.

Contracts with other training partners have been signed and NLEN is pressing forward to begin its first course in June, Tonn said.  A small Chicago business consulting firm, Utilivate Technologies LLC, will provide the training program templates for the course, while orientation services will be provided by the Etiquette Foundation of Illinois.  West Side nonprofit Fathers Who Care at 4540 W. Washington Blvd. will furnish and direct the program’s mentoring services.

“(The UWI program) is unique in that it is focused on providing specific vocational skills that will take more than job readiness services,” said Tonn.  He added the training will facilitate more than stop-gap employment for clients because the green aspect of weatherization marks it “with potential for future growth” in the economy of the 21st century.

NLEN Chief Executive Officer and founder Brenda Palms Barber said the agency was “absolutely honored” to earn the funding that expands its ability to serve its ever growing clientele.  “We worked really hard to bring this to our community so that we could out ahead of the curve.

“The green movement in energy is where the jobs of the future are, and that is what we are about, making sure our people who are unemployed or under-employed have the opportunity to participate in the economy of the future.”

Barber’s sentiments were echoed by the network’s Workforce Development Coach and UWI program manager Felicia Griffin.  “My expectation is for the program to enjoy a great success and be another shining star in the branch tree of the North Lawndale Employment Network,” said Griffin.

Based out of a resource center housed in a small, nondescript fenced-in two-flat with beehives in the back yard at 3726 W. Flournoy St., in North Lawndale, NLEN spearheads its attempts to combat joblessness and barriers to employment for ex-offenders with a 4-week training and job hunting assistance program dubbed U-Turn Permitted.  Run in an  11-class yearly cycle, the program assists clients with job searching, anger management counseling, conflict resolution and work culture adaptation.

U-Turn Permitted is subsequently a feeder program to NLEN’s transitional job strategy services in which the agency subsidize a three-month, no-risk observation employment period for clients.  These placements may lead to permanent jobs as they serve the purpose of acclimating participants to the patterns and rhythms of a work schedule.

The transitional aspect of the agency’s services also includes the operations of its Sweet Beginnings honey manufacturing, packaging and distribution small business.  Six years into the making, the wholly-owned subsidiary nonprofit employs between 8-10 people at a time, permitting them to establish or re-establish work routines following a 90-day training period.

Motivated by a sense of fairness throughout a career devoted to ex-offender re-entry services that began in 1976, after he achieved degrees in sociology and psychology, Tonn said NLEN is striving toward a sustainable model that builds upon “so many cases of success” with former clients.  He cites productive relationships a diverse array of business partners, including the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Regal Waste Management in placing clients in long term jobs.  Those and many others are relationships Tonn would like to see expanded throughout the business sector in Chicago.

“Screening ex-cons out actually does a disservice to their mission,” he said of companies that summarily reject candidates with a background.  “Oftentimes, they can be missing out on potentially the best person for the job.”


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Job fair at Chambersburg Mall offers ‘complete package’

Click photo to enlargeAs a sign of economic improvement, more than 100 vendors and employers were on hand Thursday to take resumes, give out applications and answer questions during the 2nd Annual Here to Help Job Fair.

Held in Greencastle last year, the fair was limited to 50 vendors. To allow for more employers, it was moved to the Chambersburg Mall, said fair sponsor Sen. Richard Alloway.

As the “complete package for personal growth,” the fair featured employers, education services, human resource services and more from Franklin, Cumberland and Adams counties as well as Washington County, Md., he said.

“I hear from employers all the time, ‘Hey, we’re hiring, we’re looking for good people,’” Alloway said. “This thing for me isn’t just about employment, it’s about betterment. You may have someone that has a job but is looking to better themselves or get some more education.”

Dave Argueso, Chambersburg, was filling out an application at the fair where he was looking for a new job after finding out his current employer will be consolidating and cutting his job.

“Most employers have been very friendly and helpful,” he said.

Thursday’s fair was one of the biggest job fairs Argueso said he’s attended, adding that the casual atmosphere helps with networking.

“You tend to connect more. There’s more one-on-one consulting,” he said.

Joy Jones and Mike Nunez, both of Chambersburg, were inquiring at Randstad when they found out about the job fair. Both were filling out applications

Thursday for a new-full-time job. “Things like this get the economy and up going again,” Jones said.

The fair provided a good bit of variety in terms of employment opportunities and made it easy to apply, Nunez said.

“Unemployment is ridiculous,” he said. “Plus people are lazy and don’t always go looking for a job.”

Evon Wiseman, who’s working with CareerLink to get her GED, was looking for a part-time job while his son, Billy, filled out applications for a full-time job.

The fair setting makes the job search more convenient and it’s easier to ask questions and find out information, Evon Wiseman said.

“He’s seen some (jobs) he didn’t even think he would be able to do,” she said.

All employers at the fair had several jobs they were looking to fill, ranging from part-time to full-time and some hiring for the first time in years.

“Work is picking up and we have spots to fill. This is the first we’ve actually hired since really the downturn in the economy,” said Claudia Heefner, human resources manager at Nitterhouse Masonry Products, LLC.

Throughout the day, Heefner said she was able to talk with various applicants and collect a file of resumes and applications for the various positions.

After they were successful in finding good applicants last year, Summit Physician Services decided to come back again to recruit locally for open positions.

“I was pleasantly surprised with how well prepared people are,” said Tammy Seville, director of human resources. “Everyone I’ve asked a resume for has had it.”

The fair allows them to see first-hand what type of job an applicant’s personality may be suited for, Seville said.

This was one of the first community-wide fairs that Target Distribution has attended instead of their usual college career fairs, said Heather Coleman, human resources business representative.

The representatives were there looking for applicants for permanent full-time positions at their distribution center and store, she said.

“There’s a lot of people out here looking and they’re interested,” Coleman said. “We’re looking for people in the community that are looking for long-term employment. To get out here and meet people face-to-face, it definitely helps.”

Pest Patrol was at the fair reaching out to people who may be looking for spring and summer part-time work.

“Last spring and summer, we had three to five part-timers working with us so there’s a lot of holes to fill,” said Marshall Gilbert, commercial applicator.

Although they asked applicants to e-mail in their resume, the fair provided them a chance to meet and interact with potential employees, said Carrie Tharp, recruitment and development.

They took the chance to talk and interact with each interested person as they might interact on a day-to-day basis, she said.

“I think it works better this way as opposed to going to a job interview and being nervous in that setting,” Gilbert said.

———–

Samantha Cossick can be reached at scossick@publicopinionnews.com and 262-4762 or follow her on Twitter at @SCossickPO.


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Veterans to change Federal Employment Demographics

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NS drug dogs getting pink slips in job cuts

Dozens of employees at the Canada Border Services Agency are among the latest federal workers in Halifax to receive notices that their jobs are on the line.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada said 26 employees at the Canada Border Services Agency got notices on Thursday. The agency is also losing two dogs used to sniff out drugs, explosives and other contraband material.

Bret, 6, and Griffin, 7, are the two Halifax-based Labrador retrievers whose handlers were notified their jobs will be eliminated.

Brett Evans, the president of the Nova Scotia branch of the Customs and Immigration Union, said the canine teams have boarded ships at ports in Halifax, Sydney and Port Hawkesbury and help screen thousands of containers entering the agency’s facility in Burnside.

“We have lost an important tool in our daily battle to keep our streets safe. This is our national security we are talking about,” Evans said in a statement.

He said the dogs will likely be permanently adopted by their handlers.

Jeannie Baldwin, the Atlantic Canada vice-president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said more bad news is on the way.

“This government is making decisions having never worked in an office or a federal government building,” she said.

“They have no idea the programs and services that we deliver and the impact it’s going to have on Canadians and it’s going to be devastating.”

Baldwin said news of the cuts at various federal government departments are pouring in, with hundreds of workers across Atlantic Canada already receiving notices that their jobs may be affected.

More cuts coming, says union

Once an employee receives a notice, a process kicks in that could see the person moved to another position within the department or to a different department within the government.

Not everyone who receives a notice will lose employment.

But Baldwin said the sheer size of the cuts is making the process of relocating employees difficult.

“People haven’t received their notices for Canadian Heritage or Parks. Even with the Canadian Revenue Agency, we know there are cuts there,” she said.

“There’s still a lot of workforce adjustment letters that have not been issued yet.”

Earlier this week, 34 workers at the Public Works and Government Services Canada — where federal cheques are currently printed — were told the facility will close in September.

“Some people are very angry,” said Lori Walton of the Government Services Union.

“They don’t understand why this decision was made on closing down this whole site, as opposed to maybe looking at each of the three print production sites across Canada and trying to find ways to make it more efficient.”

The federal government is aiming to eliminate 19,200 federal public service positions across the country, saving $5.2 billion annually.


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Job seekers crowd career fair as Federal Reserve Bank of New York president …

2012-04-12-dl-jobs2.JPGNew York State hosts a job fair at the Sen. John Hughes State Office Building in Syracuse. John Stine (left) of Auburn talks with Mallory Doherty, corporate human resources recruiter with Rapid Response Monitoring.

Syracuse, NY — William C. Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, toured Central New York today offering business leaders, university students and factory workers glimpses into the economy’s future.

Shortly after Dudley told Syracuse University students that high unemployment would continue to nag the nation into 2014, hundreds of people pushed their way through a crowded hallway and a couple of side rooms of the Sen. John Hughes State Office Building in Syracuse for a job fair.

Many of those people said they can’t wait for a slow economic recovery. They need jobs now.

Dressed in a green spring jacket, John Stine, 25, of Auburn, went from table to table handing out neatly printed resumes and colorful business cards with a shortened resume printed on the back.

Stine is a 2009 SU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in information management and technology. He said he worked for the university three years, until the school cut his position shortly before graduation.

He got a job at a call center, only to be laid off in 2010 when the company moved the work overseas, he said.

Now unemployed and getting public assistance for his rent, “I’ve sold everything from my X Box to my car to keep a roof over my shoulders. I’m $80,000 in debt (from student loans) and no way to pay for it,” he said.

“I knew what I wanted. I pushed for it, but I can’t control the economy and the job market,” he said.

As head of the Federal Reserve’s New York bank and vice-chairman of the Federal Open Markets Committee, Dudley is one of the few people in the country who has a say in monetary policy.

Congress mandates that the committee use its powers to keep the maximum number of people employed and prices stable, Dudley told business leaders in a morning speech at the Center for Economic Development at the Syracuse Technology Garden.

Dudley delivered identical speeches to business leaders and a pre-lunch speech to 50 faculty and students at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. He emphasized that his views do not reflect those of the Federal Reserve or the open markets committee.

The question-and-answer sessions following both touched on many subjects, including the effect of gas prices on the economy, the federal debt and China’s economy.

Lately, the national economic data has been a little upbeat, suggesting that the recovery is on firmer footing, Dudley said.

The economy expanded by 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, the average monthly job gains in the first quarter of this year were 212,000 and dealers had their best quarter in four years for selling cars and light trucks, he said.

Fewer jobs were added in March. Dudley said he believes the warmer winter weather encouraged companies to push up planned hiring in January and February. Economists will need to see more data before they decide if March represents a problem in the economy or a weather-related setback, he said.

Regardless, “real economic activity has yet to be strong enough on a sustained basis to make a big dent in the overall slack in the U.S. economy,” Dudley said.

Across Upstate, the cycle of recession and recovery has been less pronounced than the rest of the nation, he said.

Central New York’s housing prices rose by 10 percent from the country’s peak in 2006, while the rest of the nation’s declined by 30 percent, Dudley said.

While employment fell by 4 percent locally during the recession, it was only about two thirds of the national decline, he said.

Even so, the local recovery has been disappointing with the region regaining only about a third of the 13,000 jobs lost during the downturn, Dudley said. The region’s decades long economic changeover from a manufacturing economy continues, with the business services sector and leisure and hospitality sectors growing, he said.

Local business leaders need to pay special attention to the education and health sectors of the economy, “eds and meds,” Dudley said. The sectors employ about a fifth of all Central New York workers and are less susceptible to downturns, he said.

Upstate New York has an above-average number of colleges and universities compared with the rest of the country, Dudley said, “ but it doesn’t do a very good job of taking innovations from education to generate jobs in the region.”

“One of the challenges of course, though, is to get the faculty members more engaged and feel that entrepreneurship and taking their ideas and actually turning them into businesses and jobs should be part of their broader mission,” Dudley said.

For their part, workers should continue to get education and training throughout their career, he said.

“At the end of the day, people’s employment prospects and standards of living are really tied to the skills that they have. Education, job retraining, continuously improving their skills and attributes that you have, that’s the way to have a prosperous career,” Dudley said.

As Dudley traveled from SU to an afternoon tour of Welch Allyn, a medical device maker in Skaneateles Falls, more than 500 people filtered through the state office building tables set up for 20 employers looking to fill 700 positions.

Hal Milligan, 48, of Clay, has a master’s degree in business administration and teaches part time at Bryant Stratton. He was looking for full-time professional work among tables set up for companies looking to hire call center workers, security guards and fast food clerks.

Would he take Dudley’s advice to get more training?

“The stage I’m in right now, it doesn’t make sense for me to go back to school,” he said.


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Job seekers crowd career fair as Federal Reserve Bank of New York president tours Central New York – Syracuse Post

2012-04-12-dl-jobs2.JPGNew York State hosts a job fair at the Sen. John Hughes State Office Building in Syracuse. John Stine (left) of Auburn talks with Mallory Doherty, corporate human resources recruiter with Rapid Response Monitoring.

Syracuse, NY — William C. Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, toured Central New York today offering business leaders, university students and factory workers glimpses into the economy’s future.

Shortly after Dudley told Syracuse University students that high unemployment would continue to nag the nation into 2014, hundreds of people pushed their way through a crowded hallway and a couple of side rooms of the Sen. John Hughes State Office Building in Syracuse for a job fair.

Many of those people said they can’t wait for a slow economic recovery. They need jobs now.

Dressed in a green spring jacket, John Stine, 25, of Auburn, went from table to table handing out neatly printed resumes and colorful business cards with a shortened resume printed on the back.

Stine is a 2009 SU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in information management and technology. He said he worked for the university three years, until the school cut his position shortly before graduation.

He got a job at a call center, only to be laid off in 2010 when the company moved the work overseas, he said.

Now unemployed and getting public assistance for his rent, “I’ve sold everything from my X Box to my car to keep a roof over my shoulders. I’m $80,000 in debt (from student loans) and no way to pay for it,” he said.

“I knew what I wanted. I pushed for it, but I can’t control the economy and the job market,” he said.

As head of the Federal Reserve’s New York bank and vice-chairman of the Federal Open Markets Committee, Dudley is one of the few people in the country who has a say in monetary policy.

Congress mandates that the committee use its powers to keep the maximum number of people employed and prices stable, Dudley told business leaders in a morning speech at the Center for Economic Development at the Syracuse Technology Garden.

Dudley delivered identical speeches to business leaders and a pre-lunch speech to 50 faculty and students at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. He emphasized that his views do not reflect those of the Federal Reserve or the open markets committee.

The question-and-answer sessions following both touched on many subjects, including the effect of gas prices on the economy, the federal debt and China’s economy.

Lately, the national economic data has been a little upbeat, suggesting that the recovery is on firmer footing, Dudley said.

The economy expanded by 3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, the average monthly job gains in the first quarter of this year were 212,000 and dealers had their best quarter in four years for selling cars and light trucks, he said.

Fewer jobs were added in March. Dudley said he believes the warmer winter weather encouraged companies to push up planned hiring in January and February. Economists will need to see more data before they decide if March represents a problem in the economy or a weather-related setback, he said.

Regardless, “real economic activity has yet to be strong enough on a sustained basis to make a big dent in the overall slack in the U.S. economy,” Dudley said.

Across Upstate, the cycle of recession and recovery has been less pronounced than the rest of the nation, he said.

Central New York’s housing prices rose by 10 percent from the country’s peak in 2006, while the rest of the nation’s declined by 30 percent, Dudley said.

While employment fell by 4 percent locally during the recession, it was only about two thirds of the national decline, he said.

Even so, the local recovery has been disappointing with the region regaining only about a third of the 13,000 jobs lost during the downturn, Dudley said. The region’s decades long economic changeover from a manufacturing economy continues, with the business services sector and leisure and hospitality sectors growing, he said.

Local business leaders need to pay special attention to the education and health sectors of the economy, “eds and meds,” Dudley said. The sectors employ about a fifth of all Central New York workers and are less susceptible to downturns, he said.

Upstate New York has an above-average number of colleges and universities compared with the rest of the country, Dudley said, “ but it doesn’t do a very good job of taking innovations from education to generate jobs in the region.”

“One of the challenges of course, though, is to get the faculty members more engaged and feel that entrepreneurship and taking their ideas and actually turning them into businesses and jobs should be part of their broader mission,” Dudley said.

For their part, workers should continue to get education and training throughout their career, he said.

“At the end of the day, people’s employment prospects and standards of living are really tied to the skills that they have. Education, job retraining, continuously improving their skills and attributes that you have, that’s the way to have a prosperous career,” Dudley said.

As Dudley traveled from SU to an afternoon tour of Welch Allyn, a medical device maker in Skaneateles Falls, more than 500 people filtered through the state office building tables set up for 20 employers looking to fill 700 positions.

Hal Milligan, 48, of Clay, has a master’s degree in business administration and teaches part time at Bryant Stratton. He was looking for full-time professional work among tables set up for companies looking to hire call center workers, security guards and fast food clerks.

Would he take Dudley’s advice to get more training?

“The stage I’m in right now, it doesn’t make sense for me to go back to school,” he said.


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