MassHire North Central Workforce Board and Career Center Partner with The Polus Center, CVS and others for Successful Virtual Training

The following post was submitted by Jeff Roberge, Executive Director of the MassHire North Central Workforce Board and featured in MWA’s August 2020 Workforce Connections Newsletter.

CVS Health Pharmacy Technician Training Completed – Entirely by Zoom

When the Polus Center for Social & Economic Development, a Massachusetts agency that promotes employment opportunities for people with disabilities, got word in January 2020 that they had received a Young Adults with Disabilities Employment grant from the Commonwealth Corporation to offer CVS Pharmacy Technician training—in collaboration with the MassHire North Central MA Workforce Board and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission—they got busy recruiting 15 young adults (age 18-35) to participate. They were set to begin training in March when COVID happened. It didn’t take long for the team (Jen Duval and Theresa Kane from Polus; Crystal Silva from Thryv Consulting; and Jeff Roberge, from the MassHire North Central Workforce Board) to conclude that they’d just have to take the program online. Jen contacted participants and Crystal provided computers and hot spots for those who needed them.

They confirmed the training calendar, that includes soft skills such as Emotional Intelligence, Stress Management, Customer Service and Resolving Conflict as well as all of the technical skills needed to land a job at CVS. Students became members of the Career Center and completed the Career Center Seminar. They then worked 3 days a week on Zoom for 8 weeks. Career Center staff taught interview skills and members of the Workforce Board volunteered to conduct online mock interviews. The trainers reported little absenteeism and full student engagement. In many ways providing the training online was advantageous, as it avoided the challenges and expense of transportation, logistics, and childcare. Within days of “graduation,” one of the participants was offered a job. They are all now completing applications and interviewing for positions at CVS Health. Last year 85% of the people who completed the program became employed at CVS Health or a similar job.

The Pharmacy Technician Training Program was created in partnership with MRC in 2013 and has become a model for job-driven training. MRC partnered with Polus and the MassHire Workforce Board in 2019 to implement the first Employment of Youth with Disabilities grant from the Commonwealth Corporation. Similar to MRC’s offering to their consumers, this grant afforded the opportunity to open it up to a broader group of young adults with disabilities. It is a perfect example of private-public partnership. CVS Health shares its training curriculum and provides access to its learning-management system. Managers from CVS joined some of the Zoom calls, highlighting open positions and job requirements. MRC, Polus, and other agencies such as My Turn and Open Sky Community Services provide referrals and case managers to support people before, during and after the training as they complete their job search. Thryv Consulting Group provides training, follow-up and technical support.

The upside? People with barriers to employment now have the skills, confidence and “edge-up” to fill one of CVS’s hundreds of in-demand Massachusetts jobs. The team hopes to repeat the online program for people with disabilities and others with barriers to employment. For more information about the CVS Pharmacy Tech program contact Jen Duval,, 978-273-1898,

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