Workforce strengthens partnerships with employers to give job seekers boost
By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent
Cleveland: The Hispanic Workforce hosted an openhouse at El Barrio on March 26, 2009, to strengthen relationships with corporate partners and identify their hiring needs, to increase recruitment and retention of qualified job seekers in Northeast Ohio.
Panelists Stephanie Mercado, Ingrid Angel, Flor Gómez, and Joe López. Photo by Arooj Ashraf.
Ingrid Angel, Director at El Barrio, said by understanding employers’ needs, the organization can tailor its vocational career path and development training, helping clients find family-sustaining jobs.
The Hispanic Workforce is an initiative of the 2007 Hispanic Roundtable Convention, which resolved to increase visibility of minorities, people with disabilities, and give them access to stable sources of work—Ohio’s unemployment rate has increased to 9.4 percent in Feb. 2009 according to Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, increasing job seekers by 217,000 in the past 12 months.
“We have 40 committed partners seeking to fill positions,” Angel informed La Prensa. “These partners include Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. This is good news for job seekers willing to complete El Barrio’s training and qualification programs, which range from 2 to 4 week sessions in job readiness, customer services, and career counseling.” Angel said El Barrio’s recruitment and candidate screening helps employers, who trust the agency to provide them with qualified candidates.
Angel said entry-level jobs are growing in sectors like health care, customer service, and construction; El Barrio offers free career counseling to clients. El Barrio also provides young adults with prevocational training to prepare them for future in the workforce. “We want to instill hard work at an early age,” she said.
Joe López, CEO and President of New Era Builders Inc., said increasing recruitment is not enough; the goal should be to retain Latinos in the workforce and that begins by fostering strong working relationships.
The open house did just that by showcasing services provided by Latino workforce development agencies like the West Side Ecumenical Ministry (WSEM), Hispanic Business Association (HBA), Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, Hispanic Alliance, and HUMDAOP.
Flor Gómez, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at ORSC, said networking opens channels of communication and increases job matches with clients—ORSC goes the extra mile for people with disabilities, providing them access to rehabilitation technology, training, and personal care assistance, with the goal of making them self reliant.
The Hispanic Alliance opened its doors in November; coordinator José Estremera described the organization as the spoke of a wheel connecting all Latino organizations and giving the greater community a one-stop reference center. The Alliance seeks to increase visibility, increase coordination and information sharing about social, educational, and economic development.
Successful business is prudent for creating jobs and Stephanie Mercado, Executive Director of HBA, stressed the importance of maintaining proper records, setting clear goals and business plans. HBA assists business with all of their needs; managing finances, loans, and taxes, but Mercado insists success depends on utilizing HBA resources and combining them with passion and hard work.
“We are not going to do everything for you; if you want your business to grow, you have to be an active partner,” Mercado said.
HBA has expanded its services regionally and internationally with hopes to increase economic opportunities in and from Cleveland.
Internet: For West Side Ecumenical Ministry (WSEM) and El Barrio, www.wsem.org
For New Era Builders Inc., www.new-era-builders.com
For HBA, http://www.hbahcco.org
For Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, www.rsc.state.oh.us