Though she boasted more than a decade of work experience and degrees in engineering, finance, and library science, Tina Master switched gears and obtained a position as an information-technology assistant at Cabrini Eldercare in Dobbs Ferry. After being out of work for 10 years, Lisa Douglas, former operations and technology employee at both IBM and the U.S. Navy, is now employed as a call center trainer by ENT and Allergy Associates, also in Dobbs Ferry.
What do these two women have in common other than the fact their intended career paths and current positions seem a bit incongruous? The answer is Jobs Waiting, a new, regional job training program funded through a $9.8 million Federal Ready to Work Partnership grant. It assists those out of work for six months or more in finding a job in our region’s dynamic and rapidly growing healthcare sector. In addition, it provides assessment and opportunities in the form of a six-week boot camp.
According to Amy Allen, Vice President of the Westchester County Association, which was selected as the program manager of the Ready to Work grant by the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Investment Board, “For those out of work for more than six months, this program is a life saver, and an entry to the region’s hottest growth industry, healthcare.”
So why healthcare? Healthcare innovation over the past decade has led to the creation of hundreds of skilled opportunities in the field. Jobs Waiting seeks to prepare 425 long-term unemployed individuals to fill more than 3,000 critical healthcare job vacancies in the region.
As a program graduate, Master never imagined a career in healthcare, but quickly realized that her skills could be a perfect fit. “The program gave me my self-worth back, helped me perfect my ‘elevator pitch,’ and taught me how to prepare for a job interview,” she explains. “Most importantly, I had the chance to meet employers who were looking for candidates—one of whom ended up hiring me.”
Ironically, Master met her future employer at her boot camp “graduation.” After a few interviews, Simone Smith, director of human resources at Cabrini Eldercare, brought Master aboard.
“We are so busy hiring, so this program is perfect for us,” Smith says. “We’ve been very impressed with the candidates, who are professional and prepared.”
That preparation comes from the aforementioned boot camp. Enrollees meet for six hours a day, four days a week, benefiting from a skills assessment, career-readiness workshops, employee-assistance programs, financial planning, social-media training, and professional mentoring. There is also tuition assistance for specialized career paths that require advanced training, a personal job coach to work with participants one-on-one, and job referrals and placement assistance.
“Before Jobs Waiting, I thought of healthcare jobs as doctors and nurses,” says Douglas. “The program opened my eyes to new career possibilities in healthcare, as the field has changed so much.”
Enrollment is simple and can be achieved by contacting one of the several Jobs Waiting Career Centers in Westchester (in Yonkers), Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, and Sullivan counties.
To date, 86 individuals have completed boot camp training, with another 25 currently enrolled in the boot camp taking place in Yonkers. The next session begins June 20 in Westchester.
“Many of the program participants are highly educated and have enjoyed long careers, but because they have been out of work for over six months, they need retraining and a confidence boost,” confides Allen. “This program accomplishes that and more.”