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Posted on June 12th, 2019 in Speaking Engagements

Identifying and maintaining gainful employment is, for most individuals, a key outcome and goal of recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). It is also one of the most substantial barriers facing individuals in early recovery. Residents who deal with these issues often struggle to proceed through the ABC (A job, Better job, Career) continuum, but the tight labor market Indy is experiencing offers opportunities because local businesses are in such need of skilled workers.

Indiana Workforce Recovery LogoThe Indiana Workforce Recovery Initiative, a partnership between the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Wellness Council of Indiana, invited EmployIndy to present to recovery coaches and others in the recovery community about the workforce resources available for their clients.

Adam Rothrock of Community Outreach Network Services attended “because I wanted to get connected to more career services for our clients who are all re-entry. There is a lot of insecurity from people with a criminal background, so understanding where we can go for a warm handoff or referral is important so they can find success without getting discouraged.”

During the presentation, attendees cited similar interests to Rothrock, as well as a desire for more stability in programs available, citing difficulty navigating a complex landscape of opportunities.

The business community and individual residents both stand to benefit if recovery coaches can better connect their clients to in-demand education, training, and jobs.

After an intro from Mike Thibideau of the Indiana Chamber and an overview of EmployIndy from our COO Marie Mackintosh, our talent alignment manager Jennifer Walde shared information about how recovery coaches and their clients can connect to WorkOne Indy and its community partner locations, along with the career services offered.

Aside from general information and resources, bringing this group together offered a chance to ask questions and discuss issues as with peers.

One key question that was addressed was “when should someone disclose their felony if they have one?” Conversation around this topic reminded the group that it can be detrimental for a job seeker to lead with that fact as the first detail about themselves during an interview – but similarly it can be detrimental to avoid the topic entirely and never mention it (because of the likelihood of a background check revealing it).

“This is a tricky subject, but ultimately we are talking about human beings and their lives that are impacted by the work we are trying to do here,” said Jennifer Walde. This difficult topic lead to sharing of experiences from attendees around the benefit of honestly sharing information about a felony and explaining the life changes that are in place to ensure a positive path moving forward.

Jennifer also shared WorkOne Indy calendars, our employability skills video series, and outlined the strategy behind embedded WorkOne service locations in the city.

“We hope that a better understanding of the resources and services available will help recovery coaches provide value to their clients,” said Marie Mackintosh. “We are giving a broad overview today, and we look forward to learning more about your specific workforce questions and addressing them in more detail as we continue this partnership with the Indiana Chamber.”

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  Staff increases to support admitted student retention and boost awareness of 21st Century Scholars program as June 30 deadline approaches

From growing staff to partnering with over 100 community and business leaders to mentor young adults, Indy Achieves is making progress in its first year. This initiative was established by Mayor Joe Hogsett and is housed at EmployIndy to support Marion County students as they pursue a postsecondary degree or credential. Over the past few months, Indy Achieves has furthered relationships with IUPUI, Ivy Tech Community College, and the Commission for Higher Education to make it possible to bridge the education attainment gap in Marion County.

The broad goal of Indy Achieves is to address the Indianapolis skills gap of 215,000 residents who need job-ready credentials by 2025. EmployIndy is also putting the personnel in place to improve summer retention for students and increase public awareness of available (and often overlooked) financial aid for their postsecondary education.

One of the key components of Indy Achieves is the mentorship program. Yecenia Tostado, Associate Director of Indy Achieves, has taken lead in making this program a reality as the first connections were made between mentors and mentees in February 2019. Since its inception, this program has connected over 100 business and civic leaders with two to three college-bound students each by utilizing a text messaging system to send reminders about important deadlines, such as filling out an application, attending orientation, registering for courses, and more.

“Yecenia Tostado has been integral in building the Indy Achieves mentorship program from the ground up,” said Matt Impink, Executive Director of Indy Achieves. “Under her direction, we surpassed our recruitment goals and she has established a lasting model that provides flexibility and ease for students and mentors alike.”

With the mentorship program underway, the Indy Achieves team is focusing their efforts on an even younger population: middle school students. In 2017, only 51% of the eligible 8th grade Marion County students were registered for 21st Century Scholars, a program from Indiana’s Commission for Higher Education that grants full tuition scholarships for Hoosier students to attend an Indiana two- or four-year college after they complete high school. 

Esther Gamble, Indy Achieves Manager of Student Progress, recently joined the team and is working to increase awareness of 21st Century Scholars. From meeting with guidance counselors and sharing a 21st Century Scholars Enrollment Toolkit to speaking on the news, Gamble is going school to school, encouraging parents and educators to register their students before time runs out for graduating 8th graders on June 30, 2019.

In addition to grassroots promotion, EmployIndy is furthering awareness for Indy Achieves via an online and radio advertising campaign targeting parents and guardians as schools are reaching summer break.

“The growth of this program fulfills the vision of EmployIndy to remove barriers for all Marion County residents so every individual has the opportunity to excel,” said Angela Carr Klitzsch, president & CEO of EmployIndy. “Indy Achieves creates an avenue to improve the future of the workforce by addressing the projected skills gap in Indianapolis.”

With available funding from Commission for Higher Education programs like 21st Century Scholars, students currently experiencing financial barriers have the opportunity to invest in their education. More good and promising jobs now than ever before require individuals to have some form of postsecondary training or education. In order to build up Indianapolis and open doors for our young people, it is crucial to utilize the education funding available.

The due date to register all Indianapolis graduating 8th graders for 21st Century Scholars is June 30th, 2019. For Marion County residents seeking application assistance, Indy Achieves aims to help so students can achieve their dreams – learn more at indyachieves.org/21cs.


Today freshmen at Crispus Attucks High School participated in mock interviews at their Future Center, conducted by local business organizations, such as EmployIndy, Ivy Tech, and St. Vincent/Ascension. These students spent their semester in the course ‘Preparing for College and Careers’ taught by Polly Brelage. This course taught them about the importance of two of the three IPS School ‘Three E’ mentality: Enroll and Employ. Although the students had been preparing for these interviews, many of them still struggled to demonstrate the necessary skills for success.

Beth Bowling (EmployIndy) interviews Crispus Attucks student

“The largest barrier for these students during their interviews was not being able to supply different examples of work experience they have had,” said Beth Bowling, EmployIndy’s Associate Director of In-School Engagement. “With many students being so young and not yet having an employment history in the traditional sense, many of them had a difficult time thinking outside the box and translating their life experience into a workplace setting.”

However, not all students struggled with this part of the prompt. Brian, one of the interviewees, shared a bit of his experience with the mock interview:

“The hardest part was definitely when they asked about my experience and why I would be good for the job since I’ve never worked anywhere before,” he stated. “But then I remembered that I could pull from examples in my own life. I talked about different jobs I’ve had around the house and how I’ve been mowing the yard and tied that into how it makes me a hard worker and good at multitasking.”

“I was so proud of Brian. This entire semester he has been quiet and hesitant to speak up and his performance today truly impressed me,” said Polly, reflecting on her students’ experiences. “Many students don’t understand how important it is to participate in mock interviews. Although they don’t see it now, down the road they will realize what they learned in this class made a difference in their life.”

Mechelle Polter (EmployIndy) interviewing Brian (Crispus Attucks student)

By participating in conducting mock interviews, employers and business leaders can truly impact a student’s future. It may seem mundane during the practice, but this kind of work-based learning experience is one of many that shapes an individual as they prepare for the workforce. As a workplace professional, you have the skills to not only help young adults get ready for job interviews, you also know some ‘tricks of the trade.’

“You need to remember you are interviewing the company just like they are interviewing you,” shared Mechelle Polter, EmployIndy’s Work-based Learning Manager, during a Q&A at the end of the mock interview session. By helping students’ practice, they are gaining more than just basic interview skills – they are having life experiences.

Robert King (Ivy Tech) interviews Crispus Attucks student

Robert King, Assistant Director of K-12 Initiatives at Ivy Tech Community College, chose to take this one step further as he tied in not only how it is important to interview well, but also how crucial it is to expand their education in order to pursue a good and promising career. Through Ivy Tech’s dual-credit program, Crispus Attucks students have the opportunity to earn over one semester of transferrable course credits, saving them thousands down the road.

If you want to participate in a work-based learning experience but don’t know if an off-site mock interview is the right fit for you, EmployIndy offers connections to many other opportunities for students to experience the workforce first-hand. We are able to provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to conduct an on-site tour, participate in job shadowing or guest speaking, establish an outline for a successful apprenticeship or internship, and other work-based learning opportunities for young people.

Contact our business solutions and talent team at businesssolutions@nullemployindy.org to get started today!