Workforce Partnerships › Phase 1 Workforce Partnerships
In order to build career advancement opportunities for low-skill building custodians, the Voice and Future Fund, the nonprofit arm of Service Employees International Union Local 615, partnered with building management companies, including Acme Building Services, American Cleaning Company, AM-PM, Centennial One, One Source, and Unicco, as well as Harvard and MIT, the janitors union, a number of community-based organizations, and the Massachusetts Worker Education Roundtable. The fund was formed after a 2003 strike that pit the union representing the men and women who clean Boston’s office buildings against the companies that manage services to many of those buildings.
Labor and management are committed to improving English language skills among a large immigrant workforce and to provide them with more advanced training in facilities maintenance and skilled trades, leading to career pathways for full-time employment with benefits. In addition, the Building Services Career Path reconnected foreign-trained workers to their fields and younger workers to education. This innovative partnership brought training providers to the workplace at times that accommodate the working schedules of building custodians, while engaging employers in reshaping their promotional systems to help part-time, entry-level workers progress.
Community health workers are an essential but often overlooked part of the public health system. They work in diverse settings and under myriad titles to improve access to health care for underserved populations.
Action for Boston Community Development received a SkillWorks implementation grant in April 2007 to lead a broad-based partnership in: increasing employer investment in training and promotion; developing recognized career pathways; and establishing a recognized postsecondary certificate program for community health workers. The initiative is focused on incumbent community health workers and helping them advance along a pathway within the occupation. The end goal is to assist the workers in making progress toward achieving family self-sufficiency. The initiative is also working on a public information and policy advocacy plan to tackle structural issues, such as third-party payer reimbursement issues that constrain the career advancement opportunities of community health workers.
Key partners include: Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries; Bunker Hill Community College; Massachusetts Department of Public Health; Mass. Department of Mental Health; Mass. Community Health Worker Network; and the Mass. League of Community Health Centers. The partnership’s employer partners include: DotWell (Codman Square Community Health Center, Dorchester House Multi-Service Health Center); Whittier Street Health Center; East Boston Neighborhood Health Center; Partners in Health/Brigham and Women’s Hospital (PACT Program); and ABCD’s public health division.
The Healthcare Training Institute (HTI) works with employers and employees in the Longwood Medical Area to improve employment opportunities and career paths, leading to jobs paying family-supporting wages. Led by Jewish Vocational Services of Boston, HTI currently partners with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, and Joslin Diabetes Center. With SkillWorks funding, the institute is providing contextualized ESOL for the healthcare field and developing new services to meet employers’ pre-college, pre-employment, career coaching, and skills training needs. The Institute is also working on building better bridges to post-secondary education so both employees and neighborhood residents have improved access to mid-level health care jobs.
The Hotel Career Center, a partnership between the International Institute of Boston and the Hilton Hotel Corporation, Boston’s largest hotel property management firm, is helping low-income recent immigrants move toward economic self-sufficiency, while at the same time helping the company train and retain high-performing employees. HCC provides job-specific language and skills training to program participants and places them in positions with growth potential at partner hotels.
The Hotel Career Center was established in 1998, to provide pre-employment training and placement for over 30 Boston-area hotels. With SkillWorks funding, HCC has expanded to also serve entry-level hotel employees who do not have the English or other skills needed to participate in Hilton’s in-house staff development programs. HCC helps these workers improve their language and computer skills so that they can perform better in their current jobs, increase their ability to participate in Hilton’s career development training and to be promoted, and earn higher wages. HCC also provides career coaching to help participants develop short-term and long-term career goals. By providing these training opportunities through the partnership, the Hilton Hotel Corporation develops a better workforce, can better promote from within, and benefits from higher worker loyalty.
Partners in Automotive Career Education (PACE), a partnership of four automotive repair firms with three community-based organizations and two schools, builds new career training capacity in automotive technology for low-income Boston residents. The Asian American Civic Association, La Alianza Hispana, and Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts are collaborating with Madison Park Vocational Technical High School and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology as educational partners; the Massachusetts Automobile Dealers Association, Sullivan Tire, Village Automotive Group, and Bridgestone Firestone are their industry partners.
PACE helped employers analyze their staff skill development needs by training new employees and current entry-level workers in automotive skills and English language and math skills customized to the automotive industry. The partnership targeted immigrants and African Americans, improving their access to an industry that pays good wages, presents low barriers to entry-level work, and offers many opportunities for career advancement. SkillWorks funding enables PACE to address the needs of an industry held back by a severe shortage of skilled employees, while providing Boston workers with new avenues for advancement to family-supporting incomes.
Partners in Career and Workforce Development, led by Partners HealthCare, addresses labor shortages in nursing and other technical health care occupations by providing opportunities for low-income Boston residents to begin a career in this industry. PCWD builds on Partners’ teaching mission to create a range of learning opportunities for entry-level and incumbent employees who are capable and motivated to advance in health care. It brings Partners’ diverse pre-employment and career development efforts under one umbrella, making them more accessible to entry-level workers and their supervisors. Through SkillWorks, Partners is also developing hybrid courses, offered at community colleges, that integrate academic skill development with science prerequisites, and it is helping foreign-educated employees master professional-level English. In addition, career coaching helps participants understand and take advantage of career advancement opportunities and other supports available to them during the long process of completing postsecondary training that leads to better jobs.
Partners HealthCare works with its two founding hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Whittier Street Health Center, and WorkSource Partners for career coaching. Transition to Work provides pre-employment training to community residents. Jewish Vocational Service has been involved in curriculum development. PCWD is also working with the MGH Institute of Health Professions to develop curricula to train clinicians as educators as a strategy to address the shortage of health care faculty in community colleges.