Collaboration is Key for these Successful MassHire Partnerships

This blog post is the second in a series honoring and highlighting the great work of our MassHire members who were nominated and chosen as finalists for the 2020 MassHire Awards. This blog focuses on the finalists for the Collaboration category, including the award winner, MassHire Greater New Bedford (Stephanie Smith, Chelsea Burke, and Kelly Travis of Mass Rehab Commission). MassHire is committed to understanding and valuing the diverse, unique requirements and professional goals of the businesses and people they serve. Nominations for this category were based on answers to the following questions:

  1. How did the work achieved by this individual or team effect innovative, sustainable change and positive outcomes for customers (both businesses and jobseekers), partner staff, community organizations, and/or MassHire colleagues?
  2. How did the nominee maintain or create effective partnerships which led to exceptional results?

MassHire Greater New Bedford: Stephanie Smith, Youth Program Lead Coordinator, MassHire Greater New Bedford Career Center; Chelsea Burke, Youth Program Manager, MassHire Greater New Bedford Career Center; Kelly Travis, Rehabilitation Counselor, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) – Getting Connected for Youth Services (Collaboration Award Winner)

MassHire Greater New Bedford’s team was nominated for their Youth Services work in collaboration with MRC. In the course of helping one young man who was also receiving services through MRC, Stephanie Smith and Chelsea Burke realized that although the Career Center shared a formal MOU with MRC, they needed to develop a working protocol to more efficiently and effectively serve shared customers. Working with Kelly at MRC, the team developed a plan for ongoing communication and case management of shared customers, and times for MRC staff to be on-site at the Career Center for consistency of service provision. This shared work with on youth eventually led to similar coordination around services for adults and dislocated workers. The partnership also began collaborating on activities like recruitments and job fairs.

The partnership found that customers were more successful in reaching their goals because of the collaborative efforts between MassHire and MRC, involving ongoing communication with one another and mutual respect for each other and their agency’s work. Although they faced challenges getting young people with some of the greatest barriers to follow through with using the services they provided, the united and coordinated front MRC and MassHire represented helped instill trust in the youth customers, leading to more successful outcomes. As Stephanie said, “What helped us collaborate so well is the fact we all demonstrate adaptability, respect, communication, and flexibility.  Our working relationship was so natural and effortless, and I feel our customers felt that energy, which as a result made them more engaged and successful through their journey.”

During the pandemic, customers have continued to benefit from virtual services and, fortunately, the youth population has the computer and technology skills to participate in this “new norm.”  The team foresees MassHire and MRC still being able to work collaboratively and collectively through virtual platforms such as Zoom or WebEx to continue the communication and support for their customers. 

MassHire Franklin Hampshire: Andrew Baker, Special Projects Coordinator, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board; Carol Hayes, Career Services Counselor, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center – Collaborative Streamlining: Building an Effective Workforce Training Partnership between a Workforce Board, Career Center and Community College

This MassHire Franklin Hampshire team was nominated for their many years of work building a partnership among the Workforce Board, Career Center and Greenfield Community College (GCC). Over 6 years of trust-building through the Manufacturing Skills Initiative (MSI), the team has been able to successfully implement several changes in recruitment, assessment, enrollment, and career readiness in order to better serve local job seekers and businesses.

The partnership has been able to find ways to braid multiple funding streams together, across all three institutions, to best serve customers and meet their goals. For instance, in the past, MSI participants were not screened for WIOA eligibility. This was a missed opportunity to utilize available resources through both WIOA and state grants to help more job seekers access strong career pathways being developed through MSI. The Board and Career Center staff worked together to develop a stream-lined orientation for WIOA applicants to access the MSI program, resulting in many more enrollments in both programs. In addition, the team was able to work with GCC to incorporate career readiness into their existing manufacturing curriculum, to both emphasize the importance of career readiness in academic settings and better prepare students to apply for and get jobs after training. Employers had been finding students lacking the soft skills and access to computers to effectively apply for jobs. Now, developing resumes and cover letters are requirements in the academic program for graduation.

The a few of the key ingredients to the team’s success were shared ownership of the program across all partners, mutual interest in helping job seekers and businesses succeed, an experimental mindset and flexibility. And while the success of the partnership bears out in the hundreds of participants who completed training and found jobs, the real results, in their words, are in helping the people they serve take their next career step. This photo is one of their last cohorts to graduate before the pandemic.

The MassHire Franklin Hampshire team, with Andrea Reynolds, Lead Workshop Coordinator, MassHire Franklin Hampshire Career Center, presented a workshop for the Massachusetts workforce development community on the experience that led to their nomination. Click here to view the PowerPoint and here for accompanying notes. Click here for links to register for future MassHire Award Finalist Workshops in September and October.

MassHire Bristol, Fall River Career Center: Beth Viveiros, Deputy Director of Operations, Anne Borges, Operations Manager, Mandy Resendes, Reception Coordinator, and Andrea Almeida, Career Specialist – Partnership with Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA)

MassHire Fall River Career Center (MHFRCC) was nominated for a partnership with the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA) that has resulted in a successful pilot initiative benefiting local businesses and job seekers. MAIA is the leading trade association for approximately 1,200 independent Massachusetts insurance agencies with more than 9,000 employees. A common theme among the association’s member agencies was difficulty in recruiting employees, particularly for customer service positions. To tackle this, MAIA envisioned implementing a strong outreach and marketing effort, centering on the South Coast area of Massachusetts, to recruit job seekers interested in pursuing opportunities within the insurance industry. However, they needed help fully identifying, assessing, and interviewing potential candidates. Although it was a first for the Career Center to work with a local business association on something like this, the team rose to the challenge to achieve success.

Each team member offered their unique skills to making the partnership with MAIA effective. Their efforts included hosting an industry briefing centered on careers in the insurance industry, contacting applicants identified through MAIA’s marketing campaign, interviewing candidates at the Career Center, and forwarding appropriate candidates back to MAIA. In turn, MAIA has worked with their members to refer these candidates to existing employment openings.

Ultimately, the collaboration has shown positive results for 1) the MassHire Fall River Career Center in opening a new avenue to secure employment opportunities for job seekers, 2) MAIA and insurance companies by developing a talent pipeline for in demand occupations, and 3) Job seekers by providing a new way to embark upon a career pathway in the finance and insurance industry (a priority industry cluster identified in the Southeastern MA Regional Labor Market Blueprint). As the President and CEO of MAIA, Nick Fyntrilakis, said, “It is never easy to implement a first-time pilot program, but the team at the MHFRCC put in a strong effort to make this initiative work, addressing the inevitable challenges along the way in a comprehensive way. I can safely say that it would have been very difficult to get this activity off the ground without the collaboration of the MHFRC

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