KRA Monthly Spotlight!

This month’s Spotlight! is shining brightly on a workforce development Recipe for Success, the ingredients of which are available through every KRA Corporation workforce-services site across the country:

  • Programs with demonstrated effectiveness in providing pre-employment, job-placement, and retention-followup services that meet the needs of both employer- and jobseeker-customers;
  • Dedicated KRA specialists with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to maximize internal and external services and resources;
  • Employers that need assistance with short- and/or long-range workforce planning for their businesses…and that are willing to consider candidates with no, sparse, or inconsistent work histories; and
  • Jobseekers who are motivated to listen, eager to learn, and ready to apply new skills that lead them toward sustainable employment. 

The KRA Program: In this particular Recipe for Success, the umbrella program is Prince George’s Works, operated by KRA for the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, in Maryland.  Under the Prince George’s Works umbrella, is a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program and a Non Custodial Parent Employment Program (NPEP).  The difference? TANF customers are public-assistance recipients who have custody of their child(ren), and receive cash benefits.  NPEP customers do not have custody, do not receive cash benefits, but do have to make court-ordered child-support payments.  Through KRA/PG Works, NPEP assists jobseekers in obtaining employment to help them make consistent financial contributions to their child-support cases.  The heart of NPEP is a job-preparation/readiness program, FUSE… Focusing on Utilizing Self-Sufficient Energy…which includes in-depth assessments; development of Individual Employment Plans (IEP); professional development workshops (Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Communication, Financial Management, et al); career counseling; job search/placement assistance; and post-employment follow-up.

The KRA Specialist: Ricardo Washington, FUSE Instructor…who has been with KRA since July 2012…had previously held positions as a Recruiter for Prince George’s Community College, as well as a Director of Program Management and a Director of Business Development for other companies.  When asked how Washington was selected to become a member of the KRA/PG Works Instruction Team, Anthony Featherstone, Program Manager, recalled, “Mr. Washington went through a two-phase interview process.  The first part was a rigorous KRA ‘human resources’ interview and screening, but the second part was even more crucial for the Team; he was asked to teach an actual job-readiness competency to me and our Team Leader. His instruction style thoroughly impressed us, as it was very organized, creative, and interactive.  We knew right away we had found the ideal person to join our KRA/PG Works family.” 

The Employer-Customer: BC Cleaning, established in 2000, is a woman-owned, commercial and residential cleaning company that serves a wide range of civilian and government customers in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.  Their clientele includes, for example, architectural design and construction companies; the headquarters of a large, well-known area fencing company; military bases; food-service outlets; and housing complexes.  BC Cleaning takes great pride in their employees and the services they provide, with the motto, “We Don’t Cut Corners We Clean Them.”   One month into receiving a contract with a local Air Force Base, BC Cleaning knew they would need more hardworking, loyal employees. Without a large staff to establish a Human Resource Department, Floor Supervisor, Harold McClendon, had heard about Washington and the NPEP, through a previous customer.  Ms. Lara Brent, BC Cleaning owner, became very excited about the potential of hiring qualified NPEP customers to fill her growing need for staff.  She reported, “I’ve always wanted to use my business in a way to help in the community, and this program being close to [the Base] is a perfect venue.” McClendon then set up a meeting with Washington, who prepared a presentation for him, and the rest, as they say, is history!

The Jobseeker-Customers: Gary Hawkins was referred to NPEP in June of 2012.  With a background in several areas of construction including plumbing, drywall, and painting, he had hoped to find a job in that industry in order to come into compliance with his child-support case.  During Hawkins’ time in NPEP, after several assessment sessions, he developed an IEP that included attending FUSE Seminar sessions twice a week, and completing a minimum of 20 job searches each week.  While participating in FUSE, Hawkins was always punctual, had a very positive attitude, and was an active participant.  During one of their re-assessment sessions, Washington brought up the idea to Hawkins about using his construction background to possibly cross-train into the cleaning industry.  Washington reported, “I was really pleased that Mr. Hawkins was ‘all ears’ and excited to hear about the opportunity.  At a weekly hiring event , convened exclusively for BC Cleaning, Washington made an introductory referral for Hawkins to Brent.  She was immediately impressed and, pending background checks,  offered him a  full time job.  Accepting the offer, Hawkins is now a Lead Project Manager with BC Cleaning, and very happy to be working and in compliance with his child-support responsibility.

Lawrence Twisdale enrolled in NPEP in February of 2013. After undergoing an initial assessment by Washington, and developing an IEP, he was assigned to attend the weekly FUSE Seminar sessions.  Twisdale, much like Hawkins, was always punctual and attentive during workshops, and although he had a background in auto mechanics and logistics, was totally dedicated to obtaining employment in any field for which his skills were transferable.  Twisdale attended the BC Cleaning recruitment event, and met with Brent,  who offered him a job on-the-spot.  After passing background checks, he was hired fulltime as a Cleaner, and is now able to begin complying with his child-support oblicgation.

When asked for a closing comment, Washington responded, “We could not be more pleased about the partnership that has developed with BC Cleaning.  It is a total win-win situation… for KRA/PG Works, our NPEP customers, and, of course, BC Cleaning’s expansion effort.  It’s only been 2 months, and already we’ve placed four employees, and are currently screening and interviewing for three more positions.  I think it’s safe to say that the future is promising for all concerned in this collaboration.”