Collaborative Helps Residents Get Jobs in Baltimore’s Growing Industries

Posted March 20, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog collaborativehelpsresidentsgetjobs 2017

For more than a decade, the Bal­ti­more Work­force Fun­ders Col­lab­o­ra­tive has sup­port­ed sev­er­al inno­v­a­tive pro­grams that align the busi­ness needs of local employ­ers with the devel­op­ing skills and tal­ents of low-income job­seek­ers. A recent report shows these pro­grams helped most par­tic­i­pants get cre­den­tials that led to qual­i­ty employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties with fam­i­ly-sus­tain­ing wages.

Read the report

The report, Strength­en­ing Baltimore’s Work­force: Reflec­tions and Lessons Learned, presents data on pro­gram com­ple­tion, job place­ment, start­ing wage and employ­ment reten­tion rates for 1,187 par­tic­i­pants. While the out­comes var­ied by pro­gram, most job­seek­ers ben­e­fit­ed on every mea­sure. For exam­ple, approx­i­mate­ly 80% of par­tic­i­pants in the con­struc­tion pro­gram com­plet­ed train­ing and received at least one cre­den­tial. Of those placed in jobs, 70% were still employed after six months. Grad­u­ates across all pro­grams were able to secure aver­age start­ing wages of $12 to $18 an hour, much high­er than the $8.75 state min­i­mum wage, the report finds.

The col­lab­o­ra­tive is a public/​private part­ner­ship between Casey, oth­er local and nation­al foun­da­tions, cor­po­rate donors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of city and state work­force agen­cies. Col­lec­tive­ly, its mem­bers have pooled more than $14 mil­lion to sup­port sec­tor-spe­cif­ic strate­gies that pro­vide greater train­ing and job oppor­tu­ni­ties for res­i­dents who face bar­ri­ers to employ­ment. These efforts are pri­mar­i­ly focused on six grow­ing indus­tries: biotech­nol­o­gy, con­struc­tion, food ser­vice, trans­porta­tion and logis­tics, envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty and manufacturing.

Baltimore’s unem­ploy­ment rate was 41 times the nation­al aver­age in August 2016, with many res­i­dents fac­ing obsta­cles such as pri­or crim­i­nal con­vic­tions, lim­it­ed math and lit­er­a­cy skills and unsta­ble hous­ing. The report out­lines sev­er­al strate­gies that have helped the local work­force devel­op­ment effort suc­ceed despite these barriers:

  • col­lab­o­ra­tion with employ­ers and stake­hold­ers to under­stand and address labor force needs;
  • pro­gram­ming that includes rel­e­vant skill devel­op­ment and indus­try-rec­og­nized certifications;
  • wrap­around ser­vices, peer groups and sup­port­ive instruc­tion­al approach­es to address the bar­ri­ers job­seek­ers face;
  • rig­or­ous job place­ment and post-pro­gram fol­low-up; and
  • a com­mit­ment to mon­i­tor­ing and track­ing the per­for­mance of train­ing pro­grams and allo­cat­ing resources accordingly.

The report calls for addi­tion­al pol­i­cy and sys­tem reforms to address the inequities that have left many com­mu­ni­ties dis­con­nect­ed from qual­i­ty employ­ment and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties. They include changes to wages, ben­e­fits and safe­ty prac­tices, as well as crim­i­nal jus­tice reform and an expan­sion of men­tal health, addic­tion and adult edu­ca­tion ser­vices. Many of the pro­grams have already made notable shifts, includ­ing the BioTech­ni­cal Insti­tute of Mary­land, Jump­Start and the Bal­ti­more Cen­ter for Green Careers, which expand­ed job oppor­tu­ni­ties to indi­vid­u­als with­out a col­lege degree and those with pri­or crim­i­nal records.

These results show what’s pos­si­ble when we focus on the needs of local employ­ers and cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for res­i­dents to devel­op the knowl­edge and skills nec­es­sary to build fam­i­ly-sup­port­ing careers,” says Alli­son Ger­ber, a senior asso­ciate at the Foun­da­tion. The next step is to ensure more youth and young adults can ben­e­fit from these pro­grams. This report gives us a good out­line of what’s work­ing, and where we need to build.”

Con­sid­er­ing the breadth of com­mu­ni­ty employ­ment needs, exist­ing sec­toral pro­grams oper­ate at a much small­er scale than what Bal­ti­more requires. To expand the scope and ensure more res­i­dents can secure fam­i­ly-sup­port­ing jobs, the report rec­om­mends part­ners across the city work to increase invest­ment in indus­try-spe­cif­ic work­force pro­grams, increase the num­ber of qual­i­ty jobs that are avail­able and edu­cate and pre­pare more indi­vid­u­als to enter these programs.

Learn more about work­force devel­op­ment in Baltimore

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