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Workforce development gains made in increasing economic mobility in City


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Workforce Development

Workforce development and financial empowerment initiatives have helped boost Boston's residents and grow the middle class.

As a result of his priority to strengthen Boston's middle class, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced significant gains in workforce development and economic mobility including that over $14 million has been directed to more than 90 community-based organizations that have provided job training, adult education, youth programs, apprenticeship opportunities and financial education to Boston residents from July 2016 to June 2017.

Four years ago, Mayor Walsh committed to working towards eliminating the opportunity gap throughout the city of Boston. When he came into office, Mayor Walsh created the Office of Workforce Development, with Career Centers serving more than 380 employers and 15,000 job seekers annually with resume-writing, networking, interviewing and job searching skills. A year  later, Mayor Walsh established The Office of Financial Empowerment which works to equip residents with the knowledge, tools, and resources to be financially secure and create wealth.

"The Office of Workforce Development's achievements show how much we can accomplish as a city when we commit to advancing opportunity for all," said Mayor Walsh. "Our hardwork and dedication is paying off. With the help of an English language class or a job training program, many more residents are able to increase their earnings, gain financial security, and provide for their families. We will continue to prioritize the needs of our workforce and do everything we can to lift our middle class up to new heights."

Some successes, as noted in the Office of Workforce Development's annual report include:

  • Among clients of the one-stop career centers, 59 percent obtained employment within the first quarter of exit, earning an average wage of $21.36 per hour.

  • Upon job placement, graduates of training programs funded by Neighborhood Jobs Trust grants earned an average wage of $15.23 per hour with 72 percent earning benefits as well.

  • Students in the Tuition-Free Community College Plan achieved a higher first-year retention rate (65 percent) than the state (59 percent) or national (49 percent) averages for community college students.

  • The registration of over 360 residents to participate in City Academy, a new program announced in Mayor Walsh's second inaugural speech, and hosted over 30 informational sessions on the new initiative in Boston neighborhoods.

  • Young adults who participated in credit-building workshops and one-on-one financial coaching through the Youth Credit Building Initiative showed improved credit histories, higher credit scores, and less delinquency than a control group.

  • The Office of Workforce Development's Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) has been designated as the first state approved apprenticeship program in Emergency Medical Services. Approximately 25 apprentices will participate annually with apprenticeship training of 1000 hours of on-the-job classroom and field training in the first six months.

  • Participants in the City's Summer Youth Employment Program had 35 percent fewer violent crime arraignments and 57 percent fewer property crime arraignments in the 17 months following program participation.

  • Taxpayers who received a Financial Check-Up from a trained financial guide improved their credit scores by an average of 15 points within one year and reduced their installment debt by an average of nearly $500 more than a control group - within just two months.

"We are proud to enact the Mayor's vision of a Boston where economic advancement is within the reach of every resident," said Trinh Nguyen, OWD director. "Over the past year, OWD has tackled this goal from many angles: collaborating with workforce development partners, researching best practices, funding community-based organizations, and innovating new programs, such as the Tuition-Free Community College Plan and Boston Saves, the City's children's savings account program."

Margarette Jacob, a graduate of YMCA Training Inc., is an example of a resident who benefited from OWD-funded job training. After losing her job and falling on hard times, Jacob, 49, came to YMCA Training Inc. to learn new computer skills and modern job interviewing methods. "There was a whole new language out there and I wasn't speaking it," she said.

After training, Jacob secured a new job at BMC HealthNet Plan, where she now earns full benefits, a wage well above Boston's living wage, and tuition reimbursement. In just one year, Jacob has been promoted, earned three raises, and been chosen for a selective company mentorship program.

"I want to grow at the company and build a career with them," she said. "I'm very happy."

A student adviser at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, Taneka DeGrace is a tenacious advocate for young people's college aspirations. She guides students through the college application process, helps them take advantage of dual enrollments, and follows up every step of the way. This past year, DeGrace took on an even larger role for Boston's college aspirants, helping to shape the Tuition-Free Community College (TFCC) Plan as part of the TFCC planning committee. DeGrace advocated for the inclusion of students who had lower than a 2.5 GPA and required developmental classes because these were the students coming into her office, she said, who most needed the support.

"Because of the plan, I think we're going to have more kids staying in and graduating college," DeGrace said. "They're getting help they wouldn't have had before."

Thanks to her energetic recruiting, over 30 percent of TFCC's first-year cohort hails from Madison Park.

Many of OWD's programs are funded by the Neighborhood Jobs Trust, a public charitable trust created through linkage fees generated by large-scale development projects in the City.

To learn more about these initiatives and programs, please read the Fiscal Year 2017 Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) annual report.

About the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development

The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) is an innovative agency within the Boston Planning & Development Agency that seeks to ensure the full participation of all Boston residents in the city's economic vitality and future. The OWD funds and oversees programs that promote workforce development through education, jobs training, apprenticeships, financial coaching, career pathways, literacy initiatives, and the like. Please visit OWD.Boston.Gov to learn more about the OWD's work.

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