KRA/CTWorks Hosts Legislative Open Houses

In recent months, KRA partnered with the Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) and Capital Workforce Partners (CWP), KRA’s client, to host two Legislative Open Houses in the North Central Region.  The first, CTWorks@Hartford Open House, focused on the many benefits the CTWorks system provides for Hartford residents.  Distinguished guests…Tom Philips, CWP  President & CEO; Pedro Segarra, Hartford Mayor; Sharon Palmer, CTDOL Commissioner; Sylvania Lopez, HR Director, Hispanic Health Council; John Prescod, Executive Director, ConnectiKids; and “Yolanda”*, a KRA/CTWorks jobseeker-customer…started the day with a tour of the Hartford facility: the Career Agent area; Computer Resource Library; On-Line Learning Center, where customers with limited computer savvy receive hands-on assistance; and the Access Technology area that houses special equipment allowing customers with disabilities to connect with potential employers and other job-related resources.

At the end of the tour, the guests stopped to chat with several customers about their use of the facilities, what they were working on, etc., and then moved onto a roundtable discussion about the need to reach out to all Hartford employers about hiring city residents, utilizing the CTWorks One Stop Center system, and many other resources, such as the Step-Up and Jobs Funnel Programs.  They discussed the fact that Increasingly cities across the US are adopting a new “Just Hire One” campaign, being promoted by the National Association of Workforce Boards and the US Conference of Mayors, and the broad positive impact such an outreach could have if even 50% of area employers hired “just one” Hartford resident.

The discussants agreed that developing and implementing an “Opportunities Hartford” campaign, based on the “just hire one” concept, was a goal well worth pursuing, but also agreed that significant challenges exist, considering that many residents lack the necessary education/literacy, job history, and/or training…combined with family/personal-life obstacles…to take advantage of the opportunity, if presented.  However, the collaborators…City of Hartford, CWP, KRA, and other partner-stakeholders…at the table held the belief that Hartford, because of its younger-population demographic, could well become a valuable “talent contributor” to the Region, and that much is to be gained by continuing to address this issue in a comprehensive and strategic manner.  The ultimate goal is to enable more Hartford families to become “viable economic units” that pay taxes and purchase the goods and services that support local businesses, stimulate Hartford’s economy, and reduce the dependence on public assistance.  The March Open House, the New Britain CTWorks Legislative Roundtable, attended by Tim O’Brien, New Britain Mayor; Commissioner Palmer; and Tom Phillips, will be reported on next week.

*A single mother of three, “Yolanda” was facing eviction, forcing her and the children to move into a temporary shelter. As a recipient of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) public-assistance funds, she was eligible for participation in the KRA/CTWorks JFES (Jobs First Employment Services) Program.  Following enrollment/intake, orientation, and assessment, as well as work-readiness preparation, Yolanda was placed in a 10-week subsidized employment program with Latino Community Services, advocates for culturally appropriate programs/interventions to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS.  Following the program, in which Yolanda excelled as an Office Assistant fully…utilizing her existing abilities and further developing her job-skill levels…she was hired as a full-time employee, with expanded responsibilities within the agency.  Now earning sustainable wages, Yolanda will be able to move into permanent housing, and to provide for her family as one of the “viable economic units” envisioned for her, and many more Hartford residents, by the Legistative Roundable particpants.