For Immediate Release January 28, 2014
Contact: Pat Moulton Powden, Executive Director BDCC 802-257-7731 ext 224 or [email protected]
SoVermont workforce collaborators awarded funds
Completing dual county Hiring Inventory; repeating Career Expo, initiating Job Readiness program are top priorities
A trio of Southern Vermont organizations – Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS), the Bennington County Industrial Corporation (BCIC), and the Windham Workforce Investment Board (WIB) – have received grants to support workforce development in the region. Each organization has been awarded a $10,000 Regional Workforce Partnership (RWP) grant to carry out their individual but related projects.
SeVEDS will continue its work on a five year “hiring inventory” in the Windham Region begun this past fall. SeVEDS is working to finalize results for the first 25 employers. The grant will enable it to continue with the next 25 largest employers.
BCIC will similarly conduct an inventory of the 25 largest employers in Bennington County. The Bennington County Regional Commission (BCRC) will be contracted to complete this work as well as utilize it to further the development of a comprehensive Education and Career Exploration Continuum in the county.
The Windham WIB will use its grant to support two of its priorities in 2014: (1) convening the second annual Career Expo for Windham Region, and (2) planning and piloting a Job / Career Readiness program to help people overcome employment barriers and increase the size and quality of the local workforce. According to Dave Altstadt, coordinator of the Windham WIB, both projects provide tangible benefits for the region’s jobseekers and employers.
Over the past year, Bennington and Windham county regions have been working together on the Southern Vermont Post-Irene Recovery Project, which also includes development of the Southern Vermont Sustainable Marketing program. This collaborative effort has strengthened the two regions’ commitment to sharing of “best practices” between development organizations.
The dual county region hiring inventory seeks to identify the numbers of employees that are and will be needed and in what occupations. This information will provide valuable data for a number of priority efforts including: 1) sharing the data with regional schools, both secondary and post-secondary to work to better align programs and curricula to assure students better access to careers in the region; 2) recruiting talent from outside the region as part of the Southern Vermont Sustainable Marketing program; and 3) working with employees at Vermont Yankee to let them know the projected job openings in the region in hopes of keeping as many as possible in the area.
“We are pleased to have found that workforce development needs in both regions are such that building off our existing flood recovery collaborative work makes a lot of sense,” said Bill Colvin, Sustainable Community Director for BCRC and SeVEDS board member.
“This is a great next step for regional workforce development,” noted Pat Moulton Powden, Executive Director of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation which staffs the SeVEDS mission. “Both a dual county job board and the Southern Vermont Sustainable Marketing program were identified as vital projects in the recently completed CEDS. These funds allow us to move the projects further towards completion.”
Of the Windham WIB’s projects, WIB coordinator Altstadt said, “For years, local employers have expressed difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified workers. Meanwhile, too many Vermonters struggle to find a good job or to thrive in the workplace. We expect that the second Career Expo will continue to provide a great opportunity for hundreds of local jobseekers to learn about the region’s best employers and their diverse career offerings. And when the WIB and its partners unveil the Job Readiness program later this year, we will help numerous local residents overcome barriers to employment and become attractive job candidates and dependable, productive employees.”
This past September, more than 500 jobseekers and 40 exhibitors packed the Quality Inn in Brattleboro for the first-ever Career Expo. With the RWP grant, the WIB will expand its outreach efforts to area high schools, colleges, and employment service agencies to encourage even more students and jobseekers to attend this year’s event and learn about the job opportunities being offered by Windham County employers. More information will be posted onwww.vermontcareerexpo.com. Meanwhile, through a range of services, the Job / Career Readiness program will help unskilled, low-skilled, and/or inexperienced workers build a solid foundation of basic skills and positive work ethic, attitudes, and behaviors to successfully enter employment and advance in their chosen career paths, while increasing the supply of a capable, motivated, and ready-to-work applicant pool for local employers.