Monthly Archives: June 2015

Scholars at Work Internship Program Tops 1,000 Student Graduates


On June 15, 103 proud New York City high school students had a great deal to be thankful for – their graduation from Scholars At Work (SAW), a highly competitive citywide program that pairs students with transportation and manufacturing businesses for 13-week paid internships. By the end of the program, the students come away with solid work experience, knowledge about an industry and job they’re interested in, professional networks that will open doors to positions in high-demand sectors, and quite possibly, a job offer.

Since inception in 2010, SAW—funded by the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and the Department of Education (DOE), in collaboration with Grant Associates, which coordinates the program through the NYC Industrial and Transportation Career Center it operates in Queens—has connected more than 1,000 New York City high school and college students from all five boroughs who are pursuing Career and Technical Education (CTE) or advanced technical degrees, with employers and experts in the transportation and manufacturing sectors, giving them a keen advantage in the job market.

“Both students and employers equally benefit from participating in SAW,” said Gavaskar Reid, Internship Coordinator, Grant Associates. “The students gain an opportunity to demonstrate both their technical and professional skills in an actual work environment, while businesses are able to enhance workplace productivity and take advantage of no-cost labor.”

This year’s graduates were recruited from 16 CTE schools and completed internships at 51 transportation and manufacturing companies located throughout the city. In 2014, 13 high schools and one college, City Tech, participated, graduating 90 students from internships – 81 CTE students and 9 City Tech students – at 42 transportation and manufacturing businesses.

Since its inception, SAW has flourished from 17 to more than 1,000 student interns from industry-related high schools, including Automotive High School, Aviation High School, and the East New York High School for Transit Technology (Transit Tech).

“Year after year, SAW has been making greater efforts to recruit more schools, students, and businesses,” Mr. Reid said. “However, our employer partners have been equally helpful in expanding the program, often referring other employers to the program. And because many students have obtained permanent positions at their internship site, there are cases in which alumni interns are able to supervise the newer interns.  This self-replicating process is not only enlarging the program in scope, but is helping young people to become better workers as they learn from each other.”

The 2015 SAW graduates
The 2015 SAW graduates

The 2015 graduation was held at the Urban Assembly for Green Careers in Manhattan and was attended by the interns, their families, the SAW team from Grant Associates, and representatives from SBS and the NYCDOE. The ceremony was followed by an appreciation dinner for the employers who hosted the interns.

The employer speaker was Dan Orme, Regional Services Manager for Ecological Solutions. Brenda Masionet, a senior from New York Harbor School who completed an internship at McAllister Towing & Transportation, spoke on behalf of her fellow interns.

Ecologic Solutions and David Savage with Jessica and Verna
L-R: A staff member from Ecological Solutions; SAW team member Verna Hamilton; employer speaker Dan Orme, Ecological Solutions and intern David Savage, a student at Brooklyn’s Transit Tech CTE High School; and Jessica Cracchiolo, Grant Associates.

ITC Director Jessica Cracchiolo emceed the event. The Scholars at Work team from Grant Associates includes Tanya Orr, Education Services Manager; Verna Hamilton, Internship Coordinator; Gavaskar Reid, Internship Coordinator; Olympia Kneifati-Hayek, Career Exploration Coordinator; and Andy Kertesz, Business Relationship Manager.

Employers EVS, Quadlogic and the MTA were among the employers joining the SAW team for an appreciation dinner.
Employers EVS, Quadlogic and the MTA were among the employers joining the SAW team for an appreciation dinner.

SAW is open to students in their last year of high school who are recruited each December from CTE high schools identified by the Department of Education. Students come from various disciplines of study, including architecture, automotive, computer systems support, construction, electrical, engineering, robotics and transit technology.

After a rigorous application and interview process, students are selected for entry into the SAW program. Prior to the start of their internship in mid-February, the students go through an intensive two-week work readiness course, conducted by Grant Associates’ SAW Internship Coordinators. The workshop focuses on workplace etiquette, business communication and elevator pitch practice, among other topics, and provides an introduction to the city’s workforce services and an overview of the manufacturing and transportation industries. Students receive their internship assignment at the conclusion of the workshop and attend monthly cohort meetings to hear talks from industry speakers and to share their experiences with their peers. Interns are monitored regularly by the Internship Coordinator staff with onsite follow-up visits and regular communication with the employer and intern about the intern’s progress. The internship concludes in the spring with a graduation celebration for the interns, their parents, the employers and the program funders.

SAW distinguishes itself from other youth-based internship programs because it cultivates the soft skills employers seek while developing the technical skills practiced within the classroom shop. As a result, employer partners actively seek an opportunity to host a SAW intern, serve as an industry speaker, and be first in line to offer students graduating with CTE-endorsed diplomas an entry-level position within their company. In addition, ITC provides on-going placement services for all SAW graduates, including a dedicated technical education career fair.


Grant Associates Announces Leadership Changes


New York, NY (June 25, 2015) — Grant Associates today announced several key leadership changes that will position the company for future growth and ensure its continuation as one of the nation’s leading workforce development organizations. Founder and President Dale Grant announced plans to move to a new role as Executive Chair, focusing on helping the company respond to system changes within the workforce industry. Doug Cotter, Senior Vice President, will take over as President, and co-founders Diane Edelson and Paula Bailey, both Senior Vice Presidents, will become Executive Vice Presidents.

The new structure will help Grant Associates to maximize its role in reshaping the workforce system and providing ongoing support to the workforce industry as a whole.

Company founder Dale Grant takes on new role as Executive Chair


Doug Cotter takes the helm as President of Grant Associates

“Doug Cotter is one of the most respected workforce professionals in our business and has relationships with key workforce stakeholders across the country through his work with the U.S. Conference of Mayors,” Ms. Grant said. “He has a deep understanding of the industry and has been a driving force behind the national conversation about the issues affecting the populations we serve.

“Diane and Paula founded Grant Associates with me and their deep history and success in operating and overseeing the company’s programs and infrastructure, along with the respect they have gained from partners and funders, will solidify our Executive Committee’s strength as the system changes.”

Diane Edelson, EVP
Paula Bailey
Paula Bailey, EVP

With Ms. Grant’s dedicated focus on strategies that build on sector-driven career exploration, skill building and credentials to support economic growth and the role of businesses in supporting these objectives, Grant Associates will be in an even stronger position to respond to the needs of both customers and businesses.

“For nearly 20 years, Grant Associates has remained at the forefront of the workforce system by collaborating with communities and government to bring about great change,” Mr. Cotter said. “I’m confident that, with the Executive Committee’s strong leadership, Grant Associates will continue to play a vital role in fostering economic growth and opening the doors to new career opportunities for the many customers we serve.”

Grant Associates was founded in 1997 following Welfare Reform to re-connect Fortune 500 companies with the welfare population. The company’s executive team also founded Madison Strategies Group in 2011, a non-profit that would leverage multiple funding sources to test innovations in the field.

Doug Cotter has been a thought leader in the field of workforce development for nearly two decades. Previously, he was President of 4Evolution Staffing, a boutique employment agency. He has been responsible for leading Grant Associates’ program design and launch of new contracts, and has had oversight of national WIA operations, providing leadership and accountability for programs in multiple states.  Mr. Cotter is a nationally recognized expert in sector work, and has presented on the issues that affect workforce development for many organizations, including the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB) and the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals (NYATEP).

Diane Edelson has more than 20 years of experience in recruiting, job placement and personnel services. She is responsible for managing the company’s TANF programs as well as its business relationships and business services in all Grant Associates offices. Ms. Edelson also manages all of the company’s administrative and operational activities.

Paula Bailey is responsible for managing the company’s numerous workforce programs, including the Queens Workforce1 Career Center, one of the busiest One-Stop centers in the country. Ms. Bailey also serves as a member of the board for the New York City Education and Training Coalition (NYCETC).

About Grant Associates

Grant Associates has vast experience operating highly acclaimed, large-scale workforce programs for multiple cities, including New York, Atlanta, Newark, Philadelphia, Detroit, Tulsa and Washington, D.C. The company’s expertise in translating business needs into effective career pathways strategies for targeted populations and underserved neighborhoods is a hallmark of its success. By combining education and training with internships and jobs, Grant Associates has successfully improved employment and wage outcomes for residents of the cities it serves. The company currently operates full-service One-Stops, locally funded sector-based initiatives, programs for targeted special populations, including public assistance recipients, disconnected youth and returning citizens.

For More Information

Suzanne Davis
Director of Corporate Communications

Businesses Identify Employee Skill Gaps, Training Needs

In July, new WIOA legislation will expand education and training options to give disadvantaged workers and unemployed adults and youth entrée to good jobs and career advancement.

With that in mind, Grant Associates initiated a survey of our business partners to learn whether they would use government funds to subsidize their training efforts and, if so, the types of training that would be most beneficial in bridging skill gaps. Here’s what we found out. The importance of direct feedback from businesses in every industry about their most in-demand jobs—and the training and skills workers will need to fill them today and tomorrow—cannot be underestimated.

New York City’s new workforce strategy is strongly focused on helping workers build skills employers need, giving businesses a critical role to play in helping government, workforce professionals and educational institutions define career pathways that lead to quality, living wage jobs with growth potential. Businesses also will be asked to actively participate in preparing people for jobs within their industry and advancing them through meaningful work experience and training.

In the interest of obtaining perspective on this before the deep work that will be required to engage business, Grant Associates interviewed human resource professionals from 15 companies in different industries about their interest in workforce supported training.

What became clear from these interviews was that we cannot rely on business to articulate how they might get value from these opportunities. We will have to be absolutely clear about what the value proposition is for business and help them to define how they can use this opportunity.

Here is some feedback we did get from the interviews from employers in industries as wide-ranging as retail, construction, automotive, healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality and security.

Skill Gaps

Overall, businesses cited customer service skills as the number one competency employees lack. Other shortfalls noted include industry-specific certifications and licenses, and an understanding of industry regulations and safety protocols.
Also ranking high on the list of skill gaps are:

  1. a lack of professionalism
  2. inadequate managerial and leadership experience
  3. weak work ethic
  4. no initiative/enthusiasm
  5. language barriers
  6. a lack of basic math skills
  7. a lack of industry-specific hard skills, such as knowing how to use equipment
  8. little to no training for specific jobs
  9. insufficient work experience in the industry

Using Government Funds for Training, OJT and Trial Jobs

While all businesses surveyed agreed that they would be open to using government funds to subsidize training, OJT experience and trial jobs for employees, several said that they would not be willing to use such funds if they were forced post-training to keep staff who were not a good fit or because government funds were used to provide training.
Desired Trainings

Although businesses in the retail and hospitality industries, which rely heavily on employees’ customer service and problem-solving skills for success, expressed concern that training in these areas would not help much, other businesses welcomed government-funded training, especially in the areas of equipment operation, certifications and licensing, ESL and math.

Despite concern that training would likely not make much difference, almost all employers interviewed said that they would use funds to provide employees with training in customer service, problem-solving, and work ethic development.
Also making the list of employers’ most sought after government-funded trainings:

  • training for industry-specific certifications and licensing
  • professional development to increase managerial skills
  • safety and health regulation training
  • software training
  • ESL classes to address language barriers
  • basic math classes