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Posts Tagged ‘employment’

Photo: Douglas Trattner
A Cleveland co-op trains refugees and others for produce-growing jobs.

I continue to find it fascinating that so many people who are making products for sale are also intent on providing job opportunities for refugees, ex-offenders, and others with challenges.

Douglas Trattner writes about one such effort at Cleveland Scene.

“It’s a brisk late-winter morning in Cleveland, but inside the greenhouses of Green City Growers it feels more like Tampa. …

“At 3.25 acres, this site is one of the largest urban greenhouses in the country, and it happens to sit in the heart of the economically depressed Central neighborhood. Inside the state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse, some 300,000 plants at various stages of growth float in shallow pools of nutrient-rich water. There are leafy heads of butter lettuce, colorful mixed-green blends, peppery upland cress and fragrant Italian basil.

“Opened in 2012, Green City Growers has had a promising, albeit challenging, run. Part of the ambitious Evergreen Cooperatives, which includes Evergreen Cooperative Laundry and Ohio Cooperative Solar, the greenhouse was the only one of the three employee-owned companies to not be profitable. That should change this year, says Jeremy Lisy, VP of sales. …

“As a chef and former owner of the specialty produce company KJ Greens, Lisy reached out to his former colleagues to see what types of products they were interested in. He added different lettuces and blends and beefed up sales. This year, the company is expected to hit $3 million in sales, doubling what it was just two years prior. …

“Green City Growers provides 38 people with living-wage jobs and a path to ownership. Working with programs like Refugee Response and Towards Employment, the greenhouse employs many people who might otherwise find it hard to secure gainful employment. On the current roster are people with nonviolent criminal records and immigrants from Bhutan, Guatemala and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“After one year of employment, workers get to join the co-op, which includes benefits like credit management and car and mortgage assistance. When the company begins to turn a profit, that money goes to the worker-owners in the form of bonuses and savings for retirement.

“Laurie ‘Spike’ Cook did [time] in the state pen but she currently is the transplant supervisor at the greenhouse and she sits on the board of the co-op. After leaving prison she searched in vain for a job for a full year until she took a class with Towards Employment. A week later she had a full-time job.

” ‘I haven’t missed a day of work in over a year,’ says Cook, who arrives an hour and half before her shift begins every day.

This place gave me a second chance. It makes me want to do better, stay better and do the right thing. Without this job I might have messed up. This job, right here, is the reason I wake up every morning. I plan on staying here until I retire.’

More here.

Photo: James Alan Edward
The nonprofit Beautiful Day trains refugees for the US job market. But if a refugee has a learning disability, the speed of doing even simple tasks may be too slow for a future employer. Let me know if you have a Providence-area job for a cheerful but challenged refugee. There’s someone I’d like to help.

033017-BeautifulDayRI-trainees-photo-by-James-Alan-Edward

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Photo: DW/Bern Jutrczenka
Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has welcomed people fleeing war.

Here’s another approach to finding jobs for migrants. This one involves a website started in Germany, where the nationwide employment rate is high.

Jona Kallgren writes at the Boston Globe, “A startup company in Berlin is trying to help integrate last year’s flood of migrants into the German workforce with a tailor-made online job market for new arrivals.

“The website Migrant Hire, was founded earlier this year by a mix of Germans and migrants, and operates with a staff of five volunteers out of a shared working space in a former industrial building in Berlin’s trendy Kreuzberg district.

“More than 8,000 migrants have registered on the website — a fraction of the 890,000 asylum-seekers who arrived in Germany last year but a good sign that some are serious about finding employment.

“The website helps migrants create resumes that match German standards, then connects the applicants to companies. It’s free for the migrants and relies on donors and volunteers.

“MigrantHire cofounder Hussein Shaker has channeled his own experience trying to find work as a migrant into helping others. Back in the Syrian city of Aleppo, he studied information technology, but when he came to Germany he couldn’t find any work in the IT sector. Instead he ended up working in a call center while learning German.

“When he was approached with the idea of MigrantHire by Remi Mekki, a Norwegian entrepreneur living in Berlin, he immediately quit his job and threw himself into the project.

“On a normal workday he and others help migrants write resumes, answer questions about German employment law and help migrants apply for jobs that companies have posted on the website.” More here.

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Photo: STR/Reuters /Landov
Prisoners at Halden in Norway have private rooms, which all have a fridge, desk and flat-screen TV. Inmates who don’t follow the rules and attend classes and counseling are sent to conventional prisons. NPR story here.

A perhaps surprising finding: In Norway, spending time in prison, where there are intensive job-training opportunities, results in 27 percent less recidivism than being sentenced to something lighter, like community service or probation.

As reported last summer in Science Newsline, “The research project ‘The Social Costs of Incarceration’ is the largest study of imprisonment and return to a normal life that has ever been conducted in Europe.

“In the study, researchers looked at prison sentences linked to recidivism. In addition, the researchers looked at the extent to which former inmates have returned to work. What makes the project unique is linking large administrative data sets to data sets from the courts.

“They have done this to measure the effect of what happens when the criminals have received different penalties for the same offense because they randomly met different judges in court with different leniency towards incarcerating. In other words: if a judge incarcerates differently for the same offense, what will be the consequences for the offender in the long term?

” ‘The results show that the Norwegian prison model with extensive use of labour training while serving time, gives surprisingly good results,’ says Professor Katrine Løken at the Department of Economics, University of Bergen (UiB), who led the research project.

“The study shows: Five years after conviction, there is a 27 per cent lower risk that convicts who have been in prison have committed new crimes, compared to those who were given more lenient penalties, like probation and community service. For the 60 per cent of inmates who had not been employed for the last five years preceding the conviction, the decline in criminal activity is even bigger. … The study is published as a Working Paper in Economics at the University of Bergen.”

Løken doesn’t necessarily think the answer is sending more people to prison; providing more job training outside of prison might be.

” ‘A relevant question is whether we should aim for full package of job-training outside prison. But research shows that work training outside of prison is more difficult to enforce. It appears that a certain element of coercion is needed to get offenders on a new track.’

“Katrine Løken stresses that the research does not take a stand on the principle of imprisonment, but simply says something about how prison is perceived for the individual, and shows the effects of different sentencing.”

Many studies show that incarceration in the United States leads to more crime, not less. Different kinds of prisons, for sure.

More here.

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Love this story by Leigh Vincola at EcoRI News.

“The Harvest Kitchen Project is one of the many arms of Farm Fresh Rhode Island that keeps local food circulating in our communities. The program takes area youth, ages 16-19, who are involved with juvenile corrections, and puts them to work making sauces, pickles and other preserves.

“The teenagers participate in a 20-week job-readiness program that prepares them for employment in the food industry. The program touches not only on kitchen skills but the on the many aspects of work in the culinary industry, from sales and customer service to local farm sourcing to teamwork and cooperation. …

“For the past several years, Harvest Kitchen has operated out of a commercial kitchen space in Pawtucket.”

But when Pawtucket Central Falls Development (PCF) “approached Farm Fresh with its rehabilitation plan for 2 Bayley St., a downtown [Pawtucket] multi-use building that would include affordable housing, retail space and job-training opportunities, the match seemed perfect.” More  at EcoRI, here.

I’ve been buying Harvest Kitchen’s applesauce at the Burnside Farmers Market, and I’m being completely honest when I say it’s the best applesauce I’ve had in years. That’s partly because I love chunks in my applesauce, but also because it’s sweet with no sugar added. If you return the empty jar, you get 25 cents back on the next jar.

Harvest Kitchen offers cranberry and strawberry applesauce, too. Other products include dried apple slices, peach slices in season, whole tomatoes, pickles with veggies, dilly beans and onion relish.

In addition to PCF, organizations that have helped to make this happen include Rhode Island Housing, RI Department of Children Youth and Families (Division of Juvenile Correction), Amgen Foundation, Fresh Sound Foundation, The Rhode Island Foundation and TriMix Foundation.

Find sales locations here.

Photo: FarmFreshRI

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I am still employed at my job of 10-plus years until January 1, but since so many people are on vacation the last fortnight of the year, I got my good-bye party last week.

Wow. Only nice things were said. Kind of like Tom Sawyer attending his own funeral. Here you see my friend Lillian giving me credit for a discussion group that she was more than half responsible for.

A senior vice president surprised me by researching my online theater reviews (I used to moonlight as a critic) and reading two passages that suggested a strong social-justice interest, a theme I hadn’t realized was there. Another colleague commented that she had never met anyone that nice who was also so subversive. Then my top boss stood up to redefine “subversive” in a flattering way that related to the perceived social-justice streak.

Man, now I have to live up to all that. I should say that I have worked at about 10 places since starting as a camp counsellor, and I have never had affirmation like this. A number of those places were glad to see me go. I guess I have learned to tone down the subversive side so it sounds nice.

121715-Lillian-at-my-party

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Photo: David Wells

A wonderful organization, the Providence Granola Project, has just received some well-deserved attention in the food magazine Edible Rhody. In fact the magazine has prepared a short video that says it all, here.

Nancy Kirsch writes, “Established in 2008, Providence Granola, now part of Beautiful Day (a nonprofit organization founded in 2012), has a three-fold mission, says Providence Granola co-founder Keith Cooper: Provide job training for immigrants in Rhode Island who are unlikely to otherwise find gainful employment, and educate community members about refugees and refugee resettlement, all by making and selling delicious artisanal granola.

“Cooper and his lean professional staff, including Anne Dombrofski, director of strategic partnerships, work out of the Social Enterprise Greenhouse, a co-working space in Davol Square in Providence. …

“Hand labor is done by a small team at Amos House, a soup kitchen and comprehensive social service agency in Providence. …

“The trainees are immigrants—often, but not always, refugees—who have come recently to the United States. They attend classes at the Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island (Dorcas) and, through its assessment process, have been identified as less likely to find employment within the next year, given their lack of first-language literacy and absence of English skills.

“ ‘If we can speed up someone’s entry into the job market from a year or more to between three and six months … there’s a huge benefit,’ says Cooper.”

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The Boston Private Industry Council is made up of employers who pulled together in 1982 to commit to helping Boston Public School students get summer jobs, internships, training — and eventually full-time jobs. They get the experience of working, earning money, and adapting to the soft skills needed in a workplace.

I went to the PIC annual event today to see a young friend who was receiving an award along with 17 other students, employers, and mentors.

I had no idea what a big event it would be. Boston Mayor Menino spoke, as did presidents of community colleges and companies. There were great success stories, several seen in this PBS video feature by Paul Solman.

In 2006, my young friend had been rescued by mentors who worked for a PIC program designed for out-of-school youth. After much hard work, he is now attending a highly regarded local college and expecting to graduate in 2014.

Here’s a description of the out-of-school program, one of the PIC’s offerings:

“Young people who are neither in school nor working have few prospects in today’s economy. That is why the PIC works with those who have dropped out of school and those who finished high school without passing MCAS.

“PIC dropout recovery specialists and career center counselors work with these young people to help get them back on track to education and employment. They help young people take the next step by enrolling them in school, GED programs, training programs and jobs.”

Read more.

Photo: http://www.bostonpic.org/programs/out-school-youth

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John recently alerted me to a PBS News Hour interview that my brother’s friend Paul Solman conducted with Rosa Finnegan, an enthusiastic 100-year-old worker. That reminded me that I had purchased the September 3 issue of the Christian Science Monitor Weekly largely because that lovely lady was on the cover.

The lead article had an intriguing title and blurb: “The silver-collar economy — More companies are hiring people 65 and older because they believe they are reliable and productive, while the seniors themselves need and want to work. But is the trend squeezing out young people?”

It interested me because I’m an older worker who is not tired of working. I don’t know if all young people feel squeezed out, but just yesterday, a young employee asked a friend of mine, “Are you thinking of retirement? You’ve been here a long time.” My friend made a polite rejoinder about loving the work and the people and not making any plans to leave.

She has many productive years ahead of her.

Mark Trumbull writes of Rosa Finnegan that she “has plenty of similarities with other wage-earning Americans. She hitches rides in with a co-worker, likes to joke around with colleagues, and feels very grateful to have her job. At the end of the day, she’s ready to sink into a cushy chair at home.

“But Mrs. Finnegan is also a trailblazer. She offers striking proof that employment and productive activity need not end when the so-called retirement years arrive. Let’s put it this way: Where many people now nearing retirement can recall Sputnik, civil rights protests, or the pitching wizardry of Sandy Koufax, she mentions memories of gas-lit streets, the spread of telephones, and working at a rubber plant during World War II.

“Having passed her 100th birthday this year, Finnegan is still working at a needle factory in [Needham, Mass.], helping to make and package the stainless-steel products in custom batches. Yes, she walks a bit more slowly now than many of her co-workers. But Rosa, as they all call her, still has willing hands and a nimble mind. And she has no desire to leave her job.

” ‘I’d rather be here than almost anywhere,’ she says. ‘You feel like you’re still a worthwhile person, even though you’re old – [you’re] not sitting in a rocking chair.’ ”

Read the whole delightful story here. And check out the Solman interview and his video clip, here.

And to all who say U.S. manufacturing is dead, I will just point out that there is a needle factory in Needham.

Photograph: Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor
Rosa Finnegan works on a needle at Vita Needle in Needham, Mass.

 

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Photograph: Ginnette Riquelme for The New York Times
Artist Amor Muñoz pays workers at her mobile factory about $7.50 an hour. “I’m interested in sharing the experience of art,” Ms. Muñoz says.

An artist in Mexico City hires people off the street at $7.50 an hour to help create “electronic textiles.”

Amor Muñoz uses a megaphone to shout, “One hundred pesos an hour!”

Damien Cave at the NY Times continues the story. “The rush was on. By the time Ms. Muñoz parked in her usual spot outside a hospital in one of Mexico City’s peripheral neighborhoods, a line had already formed. Women of all ages squeezed together — one held a baby, another was nearly too old to walk — as Ms. Muñoz opened up a white wooden box revealing thread, needles, cloth, timecards and employment contracts. The work involved creating interactive art pieces that combine the old craft of sewing with 20th-century electronics and 21st-century tags allowing smartphone users to look up who worked on a given piece. …

“Her maquiladora, or factory, she said, is a ‘fantasy’ meant to condemn the harsh reality of a global economy that uses and discards poor workers, especially women, to keep prices low. …

“She described Mexican wages as an insult to human dignity, and every time her mobile factory appears, the power of work for reasonable pay goes on display. The crowds that gather are typically large. Sometimes people push and shove for two hours of work and $15, though once the day’s employees are selected (first come first hired), a calm tends to follow. …

“Many of the women seemed to appreciate a chance to be involved in an art project. María González, 75, smiled widely when handed a needle and adjusted her purple scarf, excited to be creating something rather than worrying about her husband in the hospital. ‘This,’ she said, sewing without looking down, ‘is a wonderful distraction.’ ”

Read more about how happy the women are to work at that wage on art, even if it’s only for two hours.

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We found a letter with a return envelope in a recent issue of our newspaper. The envelope wasn’t for a tip.

The newspaper delivery man was telling us, and his 629 other customers, a bit about himself and his work situation and asking how early we needed our papers.  He said that the delivery service for seven national and local papers was changing. Some some clients had always wanted their paper delivered before 5:30, but he was hoping people would let him know who could wait until 6:15. He told us he makes 7-1/2 cents per household. (I think there’s a song about 7-1/2 cents from the musical Pajama Game.) He referenced the cost of gasoline and car maintenance.

And then he told a story that is very common for generations of immigrants and Puerto Ricans (who are, of course, citizens but come to the mainland to provide a better life for their children).

“I am father to four children who are 11. 10, 6, and 4 … My wife and I decided to move to the Untied States 4 years ago finding a better quality of life for our family. I obtained my degree as a Licensed Electirician in Puerto Rico and my wife was a Nail Technician. When we arrived in the United States, we were faced with the hard reality that neither of our licenses were valid in the US. My wife and I decided to start our studies here, so that we can obtain once again our licenses and pursue a career in our field of study. Currently, in addition to my job as a Newspaper Delivery, I go to school every night — Monday through Thursday — and I have a second job, right after I finish newspaper delivery, as an electrician assistant, while my wife is both taking care of the children, and working as a Housekeeper at St Patrick Parish.

“Together, with hard work and dedication, we are able to cover all the expenses that come our way. We want to ensure that our children will learn by example to work hard to become self-sufficient and independent … . We hope God will provide us with good health and strength to be able to work each day so that our dreams can became a reality.”

Needless to say, I wrote him and said no hurry on the paper. My husband thought the letter really embodied what the season was about.

(I am always grateful for our comments. and if you tweet, consider following us @LunaStellaBlog1 on twitter.)

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Miller-McCune.com tweeted today that the National Endowment for the Arts has new data on where artists are finding work.

Four of the six New England states are among the states with the most arts jobs: Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

“The report on artists in the workforce supplements and expands upon a 2008 paper, which found about two million Americans list a job in the arts as their primary source of employment. That comes out to 1.4 percent of American workers.

“New York heads the newly released state-by-state list, with artists making up 2.3 percent of its labor force. California, home to the film and television industry, places second with 2.0 percent.

“Not far behind are Oregon and Vermont, each of which has a workforce in which 1.7 percent of workers are artists. That means they exceed the national average by a substantial 20 percent.

“ ‘Writers and authors are especially prominent [in Oregon and Vermont],’ the NEA report notes.

“Also exceeding the national average: Colorado and Connecticut (where artists make up 1.6 of the labor force), and Hawaii, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington, Nevada, and Minnesota (at 1.5 percent).”

Although there likely to be different perceptions of what kind of work constitutes arts employment, I find the report interesting. And since I know anecdotally that there are arts jobs in Maine and New Hampshire (the two New England states not among the top few), I can’t help hoping that some organization will do an in-depth study of the region. Unfortunately, ornery New Englanders don’t often think regionally.

And more generally, what are the reasons some states have more arts jobs? Public policies? Landscape? Accident?

Read more here.

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