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SkillWorks: Partners for a Productive Workforce

For Immediate Release: Dec. 2, 2005

Loh-Sze Leung, SkillWorks Director
617.338.4377, [email protected]


Workforce Development Initiative Ramps Up Effort to create new and better jobs

Boston, December 2, 2005 - SkillWorks, the single largest public/private investment in workforce development in Boston's history, today announced grants totaling $1.95 million to support partnerships that are working to move low-skill, low-income individuals into family-sustaining jobs in the health care, hospitality, building services, and automotive industries.

The five Boston partnership grantees are: Partners in Career and Workforce Development, the Health Care and Research Training Institute, the Hotel Career Center, the Building Services Career Path Project, and the Partnership for Automotive Career Education. Each of these broad-based Workforce Partnerships is receiving a grant of $330,000 as part of a three-year commitment of nearly $1 million. The partnerships bring together community agencies, higher education institutions, and technical schools with some of the city's largest employers to provide skills training, adult literacy, English for speakers of other languages, and career coaching.

A sixth grantee, the Workforce Solutions Group, a public policy advocate, received a grant of $300,000 as part of a five-year, $1.5 million commitment toward activities that support public policy changes in the workforce development field.  

Through its investments, SkillWorks seeks to change the way employers hire and promote entry-level workers from Boston's neighborhoods. The new investments bring the total SkillWorks investment in Workforce Partnerships and Public Policy to nearly $5 million. Overall, the funders have committed almost $15 million to the initiative.

"We are pleased to be funding these partnerships that are building career advancement opportunities in industries critical to the Boston economy that offer the potential for immigrants and other residents of low-income neighborhoods to access jobs with family-sustaining wages," said Loh-Sze Leung, Director of SkillWorks.

SkillWorks grantees have achieved significant results over the past two years. In total, the Workforce Partnerships will serve 1,500 unemployed and underemployed individuals by the end of 2005.    Over 200 unemployed individuals have found employment through SkillWorks, and over 500 current employees are making significant progress toward career advancement goals in the four targeted industries. In addition, a number of participating employers have changed their practices to promote education and training.

Partners in Career and Workforce Development, led by Partners HealthCare, includes Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, Whittier Street Health Center, several institutions of higher education, and providers of training and career coaching. In a major step toward aligning workforce development efforts with employer human resources needs, Partners HealthCare has pledged to staff its new building at Brigham and Women's Hospital with current employees and to fill the vacated positions in part with unemployed or underemployed participants in SkillWorks training programs.

The Health Care and Research Training Institute, led by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Center, includes 11 Longwood Medical Area health care employers, one union, three community colleges and training agencies, 10 community organizations, and the Boston Private Industry Council. HCRTI has placed nearly 100 previously unemployed participants into health care or health care-related jobs in the Longwood Medical Area.

The Hotel Career Center , led by the International Institute of Boston, includes the Hilton Hotels, with13 sites in Boston, and the Vietnamese American Civic Association. HCC has negotiated 100 percent paid release time from Hilton Hotels for workers to participate in SkillWorks-funded training programs.

The Building Services Career Path Project, led by the Voice and Future Fund of Service Employees International Union Local 615, includes training providers Jewish Vocational Services and Boston Public Schools and five employer partners: Unicco, OneSource, Acme, AM/PM and Harvard University. Through SEIU 615, the project has reached an agreement with Harvard University to establish an opportunity and advancement fund; Harvard has provided $300,000 in seed funding. In addition, several major building services companies have guaranteed promotions and wage increases to individual who complete SkillWorks training.

The Partnership for Automotive Career Education is led by the Asian American Civic Association, La Alianza Hispana, and the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. It also includes two vocational schools-- Madison Park Vocational Technical High School and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology--as well as five employer partners: Sullivan Tires, Sullivan Tires, Bridgestone Firestone, Village Automotive Group, and the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association. PACE is providing automotive skills training, helping participants prepare for credentialing tests, and has negotiated guaranteed wage increases for employees that complete SkillWorks training.

Workforce Solutions Group (WSG) , SkillWorks' public policy advocacy grantee, is a coalition led by the Women's Union, the Massachusetts Workforce Board Association, the Organizing and Leadership Training Center and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO that is dedicated to improving the Massachusetts workforce development system.   WSG builds public and political support for workforce development reform that increases workers' skills, advances families to self-sufficiency and promotes job creation and economic growth.


SkillWorks is the product of major investments from a coalition of funders. It includes commitments from The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund; The Boston Foundation; City of Boston's Neighborhood Jobs Trust; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Governor's Discretionary WIA grant; The Hyams Foundation; the John Merck Fund; The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation; State Street Trust Community Foundation; United Way of Massachusetts Bay; and the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

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