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ITC’s Deputy Director Participates in Policy and Advocacy Academy

 

chris wingert picCongratulations to Chris Wingert, Deputy Director of the Grant-operated Workforce1 Industrial and Transportation Career Center, who participated in a three-month Policy and Advocacy Academy hosted by the Albany-based New York Association of Training and Education Professionals (NYATEP).

The annual Academy brings together workforce professionals from New York City and Upstate New York to engage in advocacy-focused seminars, activities and legislative visits at the state and local level.

Each cohort from the city and Upstate region was divided into smaller teams to develop a group position paper and advocacy strategy on a topic they felt passionate about. Once a topic was finalized, the teams identified the problem, determined why it mattered, developed the “ask,” and created a final policy statement and dissemination strategy.

Chris’s team, which included three other participants from nonprofit organizations in the city, determined that many companies wishing to use the wealth of data collected by the government and other private organizations have trouble doing so effectively.

The team concluded that two of the challenges companies generally have when sifting through data include:

  • Capacity: staff with limited knowledge and the skills to find, analyze and report on data.
  • Time: the need to know where to get specific labor market data at a moment’s notice.

Organizations typically need labor market data that is relevant to their mission or to a particular project. The data may at times need to be granular, for example: employment rates specifically for those within a certain zip code and who have only a high school diploma.

“There is a lot of labor market data available and it’s overwhelming,” Chris said. “It’s difficult for organizations to know exactly which tools to use to find out specific information when there is so much available.”

The team developed an advocacy strategy aimed at simplifying the process for accessing the abundance of labor market data through a proposed new web-based system that would provide organizations with guidance about tools to use based on the organization’s service specifications and reporting needs.

An organization would go into the system and create an account profile, providing details about the organization and the type of data required. The system would take this information and generate a list of data source suggestions that the organization would be able to use and store for future use. The system would use all of the collected information to adjust its recommendations for tools based on new data requirements.

The team’s advocacy method included:

  • Establishing a Statewide Coalition to convene organizations from across the state, especially larger urban areas such as Albany, Rochester and Buffalo.
  • Advocating by educating legislators from those areas
  • Pitching the proposed system to private philanthropic foundations that highly value data capture and reporting, such as the Robin Hood Foundation
  • Pitching to Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs)

The culmination of the group work was a formal presentation of the concept, using a PowerPoint titled “Demystifying Data – A Tool to Empower Workforce Development Organizations,” to the class, alumni and colleagues during the graduation ceremony, held on April 14.

“This project gave me ideas for what we can do to execute this concept internally as an organization.” Chris said. “Once we have proo

Chris Wingert, center, with the NYC cohort on graduation day.
Chris Wingert, center, with the NYC cohort on graduation day.

Construction Law Theme of ITC Leadership Committee Meeting

Leadership Committee 1

On Jan. 13, the SBS Industrial Transportation Career Center (ITC), a manufacturing and transportation sector center operated by Grant Associates in Jamaica, Queens,  hosted its quarterly Leadership Committee Meeting for employer stakeholders, businesses, industrial business service providers and educators. This quarter, the meeting’s focus was on the construction industry. Continue reading

Tulsa Vanpool Project Hits the Road

A press conference announcing the vanpooling project was held in Tulsa on June 10.

Unreliable public transportation makes getting to work particularly difficult for many Tulsa, Okla., residents. But local businesses are helping to solve the problem with participation in the city’s first vanpool project, a collaborative effort to connect workers to companies that have job opportunities.

While new to Tulsa, vanpooling is a common method of transportation in other areas. The city has partnered with vRide, the nation’s largest provider of vanpooling services. vRide puts more than 7,500 vans on the road every day.

Typically, riders share the total monthly operating costs — gas and use of the van — with payment made through payroll deductions. Companies may also opt to pay for the van and fuel on behalf of riders.

One participant drives the 15-passenger van, picks up the others and drives them to work. At the end of the shift, the driver does the reverse. The driver rides for free and may use the van for personal use. vRide covers all liability and there are potential tax advantages for participating businesses.

The first vanpool ride for employees of S & R Compression of Tulsa took place in late June, giving everyone something to cheer about.  “Having our first van on the road is an amazing accomplishment for me,” said Crystal Scarborough, Business Services Coordinator for Workforce Tulsa One-Stop Centers, operated by Grant Associates. Ms. Scarborough met with area businesses to explain the program and gain buy-in.

“There is no doubt that the vanpooling project is the solution to closing the transportation gap in our communities,” she said.

The project is a collaboration between the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Workforce Tulsa, Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, The Center for Employment Opportunities, Women in Recovery, Madison Strategies, and the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech Skills Centers. The project is funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, United Way and federal and local transportation funding.

For more information, contact Crystal Scarborough in Tulsa at 918.796.1234 or at
cscarborough@grantassociatesinc.com

Scholars at Work Internship Program Tops 1,000 Student Graduates

unpaid-internships

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.