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HIRE bridges gap between local companies and job seekers

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There are people looking for family-sustaining, career-building jobs in Dane County. There are also companies throughout the county looking for people to fill quality jobs. However, connecting those two groups isn’t always as easy as you’d think, which is where United Way of Dane County’s HIRE Initiative comes in. The program connects job seekers to partner agencies that provide job skills training to employers that provide jobs with a family-sustaining wage of at least $15 per hour.

It’s not a complicated concept, but the United Way and its partner agencies are committed to building awareness about the HIRE Initiative throughout Dane County.

The HIRE Initiative began in 2013 and really took off a year later thanks to then-Campaign Chair Jack Salzwedel, American Family Insurance CEO, says Angela Jones, United Way director of community impact. American Family gave a one-time grant of $1 million over three years to grow the program.

How it works

HIRE works with individuals who do not have job skills or a high school diploma by helping them navigate the complex employment system to earn steady employment.

United Way brings together nonprofit agency partners and connects them with local companies that are looking for qualified job seekers, explains Jones. Through United Way, these nonprofits and businesses communicate — businesses share the kind of experience they are looking for, then nonprofits can tailor the job skills training and education to the individual.

According to Jones there are more than 30 local companies on United Way’s HIRE Employer Council and the group is always looking for more. American Family Insurance, TASC, CUNA Mutual Group, and J.H. Findorff are just a few of the businesses that are involved. (For a list, visit here.)

“The goal of HIRE is to provide a path for an individual to earn a steady job, so he/she can build a stable life for their family,” Jones says. “Our goal also includes strengthening our local businesses with a qualified workforce, as well as supporting nonprofits to use their resources in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

As Marcia Anderson, HIRE Employer Council co-chair and clerk of court at the Western District Bankruptcy Court of Wisconsin explains, “HIRE employer partners have embraced the fact that many people in our community rely on other means to find employment opportunities but may have encountered obstacles to reaching many great employers due to unintentional barriers, such as a lack of internet access.

“Many people in Dane County rely on one of the several multicultural newspapers, or cannot use online applications due to a lack of internet access at home,” Anderson continues. “HIRE employers address these challenges by advertising in a wide variety of sources and use the nonprofit partner agencies or the United Way HIRE website as a resource to connect them with a diverse workforce.”

According to Anderson, the HIRE Initiative’s efforts don’t just stop at finding people employment. The seven HIRE nonprofit partner agencies have resource coordinators who work closely with hiring managers and supervisors. The HIRE nonprofit partner agencies and employer partners have also closely collaborated to share ideas and best practices on: improving on-boarding processes; ensuring that new employees have an understanding of the culture; providing a work mentor; and developing innovative ways to support family and health emergencies that can be a barrier to retention.

So far, despite HIRE not yet being a household name among Dane County employers and job seekers, it seems to be working. To date, 1,345 people have been trained and found employment through the HIRE Initiative since 2013. Currently, 174 have obtained jobs that pay over $15 an hour, which puts HIRE on track to reach its goal of 240 by the end of 2017.

(Continued)

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