Economic Inclusion Plan: Workforce
When businesses are looking to expand or are selecting a new location, their first question is whether there is an available skilled workforce for their needs. By providing educational opportunities, from pre-K to college to skilled trades, and matching training to the skills needed for the jobs of the future, we can help individuals become a part of our economy and strengthen and sustain our growth by supporting our businesses.
The Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board switched their focus to employer facing several years ago. That change has helped Cleveland compete with other regions by providing training for individuals in demand driven fields. As we looked at our Clusters, we found that many of our companies were facing workforce shortages, either immediate, or in the future because their current workforce had an average age over 50. As is typical for the City of Cleveland, groups have partnered to address these shortages through training. Programs such as the partnership between ArcelorMittal and Cuyahoga Community College to create the “Steelworker for the Future” program and University Hospital’s unique “Step Up” program have provided opportunities for Clevelanders to obtain training for a good paying job that will lead to a successful career. Other workforce partners include our local colleges and universities, including Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University as well as local vocational schools such as Ohio Technical College that runs a high-tech welding class to support our fast growing industrial sector.
We realize to be competitive, we must invest in young people and make sure they have the best education possible. Cuyahoga County runs a program to provide Pre-K for low income families in their Invest in Children program. The program makes sure kids get a headstart on education. Mayor Frank Jackson realized that our Cleveland public schools needed to be the best. In 2011, Cleveland Foundation helped launch the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland. Led by Mayor Jackson, the compact is a partnership of more than 60 education and community signers who’ve committed to focus on improving student rates of college readiness, access, and persistence. In 2012, working with Cleveland and Gund Foundations, Mayor Jackson worked to create Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools.
"Our goal is to ensure that every child in Cleveland attends a high-quality school and that every neighborhood has a multitude of great schools from which families can choose. To do this, Cleveland must transition from a traditional, single-source school district to a new system of district and charter schools that are held to the highest standards and work in partnership to create dramatic student achievements gains for every child. The plan is built upon growing the number of excellent schools in Cleveland, regardless of provider, and giving these schools autonomy over staff and budgets in exchange for high accountability for performance. We will create an environment that empowers and values principals and teachers as professionals and make certain that our students are held to the highest expectations."
Together with strong community partners, University Hospitals has developed a portfolio of workforce development programs, designed to help remove barriers to employment and career development faced by many in the community.
One such program is Step Up to University Hospitals, a pre-employment training, hiring and retention program designed to prepare and hire residents of Cleveland’s Greater University Circle neighborhoods. Launched in 2013 as part of the Greater University Circle Initiative, Step Up to UH provides the training and support necessary for our neighbors to become eligible candidates for entry-level positions within the UH health system and remain employed once hired. Participants are employed in Environmental Services, Nutrition Services, and as Patient Care Assistants.
Step Up to UH is a collaborative program in which University Hospitals (UH), Northeast Ohio’s second largest employer, partners with several community-based non-profit organizations. These include Neighborhood Connections, which goes into the neighborhoods and organizes information sessions, as well as Towards Employment, which screens and interviews the applicants, holds a two week pre-employment class, and provides the new hires with a job coach.
This award-winning program is designed to help participants overcome traditional barriers to employment such as such as lack of soft skills, job fit, and work readiness. Additionally, potential candidates from the target neighborhoods often face challenges to the application process, including low technological literacy, inability to create an effective resume, and lack of experience with the interview process.
These critical components of Step Up make the difference between job retention and engagement, and termination. In the work-readiness class, students learn topics such as conflict management, time management, team work and self-advocacy. They also learn about patient and customer service as well as the importance of their role. At the end of the class, and upon hire, they are provided with six months of job coaching support. Because of the job coaching, terminations and corrective actions have been averted, and employee engagement and personal growth has increased. Step Up employees’ one-year turnover is 14%, much lower than the general population. We have achieved 80% retention of Step Up employees vs. 66% of the general population in these departments.
From August 2013 - May 2015, 91 participants from Hough, Glenville, Fairfax, Buckeye-Shaker, Little Italy, University Circle, and part of East Cleveland were trained and hired through the Step Up program. Those that have completed their one year of employment are now taking advantage of opportunities at UH, with many enrolling in college, taking advantage of UH’s tuition assistance program, applying and securing higher level jobs in other departments, being promoted in their departments, and taking advantage of other workforce development programs.