News

Mar 9, 2016

Work/Life Advisor Program Continues Success in 2nd Year

Helping People to Overcome Barriers to Employment: Now in its second year and funded by a grant from Unum, the Work/Life Advisor program works with people to overcome pervasive barriers in their search for employment by developing and implementing strategies to address these barriers.

It seems simple; a qualified individual seeking employment applies for an available position, interviews, is hired and starts work.  But, for many people in our community the process is much more complex, even when they are eager to work and perhaps even qualified for available jobs. A driver’s license, a bus-pass, a car repair, a clean shirt and pants to wear to a job interview, one course at the community college for a credential, or a little more English language proficiency might be all that is standing in the way of a steady income. For many people in our community, these seemingly low barriers are actually big obstacles to finding and keeping a job. This is where our Work/Life Advisor program can help. Now in its second year and funded by a grant from Unum, the Work/Life Advisor program works with people to overcome pervasive barriers in their search for employment by developing and implementing strategies to address these barriers. “It might be something as simple as providing a bus pass to the mall for the first two weeks of employment,” said Ron Hansen, director of the program, “or something more involved such as help with certification, housing, or overcoming language barriers.”  Ron also helps with job readiness, resume and cover letter writing, interview skills, and many other obstacles big and small. “Recently,” he said, “we helped a man who was homeless, living in his truck, navigate several complex hurdles; a serious mental illness that needed treatment, finding a place to live, getting his driver’s license, and others, until he was finally in a place where he could look for and keep a job.”  For new Americans, such as asylum seekers and other immigrants, the barriers often revolve around language and culture differences. “We hold workshops on such things as job readiness, resume and cover letter writing, appropriate dress, basic computer skills (many don’t have computers in their homes), interview skills, and general work culture norms,” he said. The program can also help job-seekers from other countries find and enroll in English language courses.

Ron Hansen came to The Opportunity Alliance from the private sector. “I owned my own business for 17years,” he said, “so I understand what employers are looking for because I was an employer.” He also knows the value of a good employee. “I encourage long term educational planning, college planning for upward mobility,” he said. He follows up with all of the job-seekers in the program to help them maintain their employment and get promoted if possible. In its first year, The Work/Life Advisor program served 100 clients, 60 of whom found and maintained employment. In the first few months of its second year, the program is already serving 60 clients.

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