Nonprofit partnership provides job readiness resource navigation

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One of Employment Services Collaborative’s recent cohort participants, Anna, was referred to computer class programming at the Women’s Resource Center and now has a full-time job at Spectrum Health. Courtesy Employment Services Collaborative

A nonprofit collaboration created to improve job readiness resource navigation and remove barriers to employment completed its second cohort earlier this month.

Twelve community members completed the second round of Employment Services Collaborative’s (ESC) free, one-month training program on how to effectively navigate employment resources. The three-session series offers students tools to maximize offered services, and programming is provided in partnership with Kent County Essential Needs Task Force and funded through TalNet, administered by West Michigan Works!

Local nonprofits providing training, interagency conferencing and links to community resources include Literacy Center of West Michigan, United Church Outreach Ministries, Women’s Resource Center, Disability Advocates of Kent County, Goodwill and Hope Network.

“Employment Services Collaborative provides a ‘no wrong door’ approach for people seeking services by connecting them with six leading community partners based on their individual needs,” said Angie Barksdale, COO, West Michigan Works! “This collaborative approach is a great way to prepare people for sustainable employment.”

ESC programming topics include workplace and interview attire, education and training, justice-involved assistance, English language courses and financial literacy.

“Employment Services Collaborative member organizations are here to help individuals gain more stability by collectively addressing barriers to employment, like literacy and job-specific training,” said Wendy Falb, executive director, Literacy Center of West Michigan. “The training is developed from years of experience helping individuals navigate resources in the community and a desire to share those best practices with others.”

One of the cohort’s participants, Anna (last name withheld for privacy reasons), was a math teacher in the Philippines, who immigrated to the U.S. with hopes improve her capabilities and find avenues into a new career, after most recently serving as a cashier at Meijer. She was referred to ESC computer class programming at the Women’s Resource Center, after enrolling in an English as a second language class at Literacy Center of West Michigan.

“The connection helped improve my technology skills, and the career coaching services informed me about the medical billing training program at WMCAT,” she said. “I enrolled, and through successful studies and an externship, I secured a full-time medical billing job at Spectrum Health.”

More information and resources are available at esckent.org.

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