Resources to initiate successful employment

Resources to initiate successful employment

By Lyle Hildahl, WRA Education Foundation director

For years, the Department of Social and Health Services has invested millions of dollars to provide public assistance for those in need. It has been challenging to get to the next step – to get individuals on public assistance jobs leading to a long term career that’s sustainable. The latest effort is through a federal grant called Resources to Initiate Successful Employment (RISE).

The Education Foundation successfully submitted a proposal with a very innovative approach. We will provide classroom training, including on-the-job training, and use ongoing employer feedback and employer expertise in the classroom to initiate success for the employee. Comprehensive case managers will assist in eliminating any barriers for the employee to show up for class or work.

Anthony Anton, the WRA’s president and CEO, passionately believes our industry is the industry of opportunity. Many of us started out at minimum wage and are now in a successful career in hospitality. Anthony created a career ladder project, identifying skills necessary to move up the ladder from minimum wage to $50K per year in six steps. With the resources from this grant, Anthony’s vision can become a reality.

I was involved in a project years ago similar to RISE. It was called WorkFirst. Initially, it appeared to have all the components necessary to get participants into jobs, starting them on successful careers. They secured jobs following the training, but unfortunately, did not keep their jobs. A majority of the program’s participants seemed to prefer being on public assistance instead of engaging with the world of work.

After this experience, it was only natural for me to ask myself why RISE would be different from WorkFirst. I believe RISE is different because the employer is engaged throughout the process, and the concepts of mentoring and coaching is emphasized.

We believe it’s not just the entry-level job that measures success, but the ability to move up the ladder and the desire to move up the ladder because a coach or mentor has motivated us to do so. We will need your help in the project. We need industry leaders to help mentor, coach, and motivate employees to be successful.

We hope that many of you will see this as an opportunity to get trained and motivated employees in your business, and will sign up as a pilot employer. Jack-in–the-Box in Tacoma has signed on as our first pilot employer and will hire the students for the first step of the career ladder. Let us know if you want to know more. We would love for you to be involved.

This project covers Pierce County in the first year and will include Spokane County the following year. If you have a restaurant in Pierce or Spokane counties, give us call at 877.695.9733.

(Source: Washington Restaurant Magazine, August 2015)