WECs: Effective Tools for KRA Customers

We’ve reported previously on the successful operation of KRA’s SCWorks Adult Worker Program in the Waccamaw Region, an effective element of which are paid Work Experience Contracts (WEC) that many times lead to fulltime employment, but sometimes do not.  What follows are representative examples of how dedicated KRA Career Agents and Business Services Representatives (BSR) assisted two young women get their lives back on track, using the WEC process.

 Vanesha McGill, 26, was new to the Williamsburg County, SC, area when she enrolled with KRA on June 10, 2011.  A young woman with a strong sense of family, Vanesha had relocated from Aiken, SC, to assist with the care for her grandmother, who was ill.  She had a degree in Graphic Design and Communication from the University of South Carolina – Aiken, and a stable work history as a grocery-store cashier, a campus maintenance worker, and most recently, a Customer Service Representative in a call center operated by an international telemarketing and outsourcing business.  Vanesha was assigned to Gwendolyn Brown, KRA Career Agent, who worked with her on developing an Individual Employment Plan (IEP), including a comprehensive assessment of her abilities, aptitudes, and interests.  Based on the results, and Vanesha’s need for immediate employment, Brown consulted with Kenneth Sales, KRA Business Service Representative, and together they suggested that Vanesha accept a paid Work Experience Contract (WEC) while she searched for permanent employment.  Vanesha accepted a 160-hour WEC with the County Recreation Department as a Camp Counselor.

When that WEC ended, without the offer of fulltime employment, Sales referred Vanesha, on another WEC, to a local, restaurant renovation project to work directly with the new owner.  She really enjoyed the job with its eclectic duties…office assistant, hostess liaison, neighborhood networker, etc.  But, just as the WEC was ending, and the probability of a permanent job was on the horizon, the venture encountered difficulties and shut down temporarily.  Undaunted, and with faith that the project would re-open soon, Vanesha volunteered her services, primarily recruiting and interviewing staff for the owner. However, as the re-opening experienced a prolonged postponement, her enthusiasm for the project eventually took a back seat to her need for income.  She continued to consult closely with Brown and Sales, who gave her constant encouragement in following up on job leads.  Subsequently, Vanesha accepted a position as an on-call Clerk with the Town Hall of Lane, a small (2000 census recorded 585 residents) farming community established in 1856.  Her “on-call” Clerk status has since progressed to 29 hours/week as an Administrative Assistant, and she is earning well above the high-minimum wage for the area. Vanesha recently confided to Brown and Sales that even though she would like more hours…and more money…she is enjoying her position at the Town Hall, and considering her grandmother’s illness, is appreciative to them for assisting her in finding employment in the area. 

Waldrena Richardson, 24, and single mother of a 3-year old daughter, enrolled in the KRA Adult Worker Program on February 16, 2011.  Kathy Hammond, KRA Career Agent, ensured that over the months that ensued, Waldrena received all the available services she needed: IEP development, resume and interview preparation, dress-for-success guidance, and other work-readiness classes, including job-search methods and techniques.  Waldrena was unemployed when she registered, and had only fast-food restaurant experience as a cashier.  She had received her GED just before coming to KRA, and told Hammond that, “she wanted to move forward to a better job with more income.”  Hammond collaborated with a BSR, who secured a paid 160-hour WEC for Waldrena as a Recreational Support Counselor.  However, at the end of the WEC, the company experienced a hiring freeze and was not bringing on new employees. When that window closed, Hammond worked tirelessly to help Waldrena find an open door.  And, they found one: a 35-year old company in Kingstree that provides outsourcing and consulting solutions to domestic and international leaders in the technology, finance, and communications industries.  Hammond assisted Waldrena with the application, and within 2 weeks she was scheduled for an interview.  Following an employee-testing process and background check, on November 28, 2011, Waldrena began work as a Customer Service Representative. Hammond, whose first follow-up on February 29, 2012, confirmed that Waldrena is still on the job, concluded, “WECs don’t always lead to permanent employment, but they do provide valuable ‘bridges’ that afford customers income and additional work experience, while the job search continues.”