Partners In Careers (PIC) is a non-profit organization that strives to create self-sufficiency through specialized career training and employment services. This is accomplished by helping people overcome barriers to employment, which often means tackling generational poverty.
PIC connects job seekers to workforce skills and jobs in partnership with local businesses and community members focused on building a strong, healthy and inclusive community.
PIC focuses on providing short-term training in conjunction with local needs. The goal is to work with companies to provide targeted training that increases interest, alleviates traditional barriers and develops qualified candidates in various industries, with a focus on building a diverse workforce and a richer future pipeline of qualified candidates for local employers. This project also aims to bring more diversity to the workplace, so that workers more accurately represent those they serve in the community.
Through this series of short-term trainings, participants will be able to test a career path with specific knowledge and practical learning. This orientation will help individuals turn their hobbies and interests into employment while looking at careers in a different way. Working in small cohorts with a specific goal will help jump-start learning and help those who have disengaged from education find a path to learning. This learning will lead them to discover endless possibilities and build their confidence to pursue different career paths that they might not otherwise have considered. The connections made with other participants, instructors, case managers and community members will strengthen their social capital and expand their networks. Short-term trainings conclude with a hiring event, where local employers are invited to attend and conduct on-site interviews to hopefully fill vacancies within their company, offering participants the opportunity to connect with community leaders in various sectors.
Partners in Careers has held four cohorts so far: two preparatory boot camps for cooking, one for childcare and one for health care.
Prep Cook’s job readiness trainings included two days of classroom training, focusing on soft skills development and job readiness, including self-reflection, critical thinking, problem solving and development of interpersonal skills. Trainees then spent two days at the Culinary Institute with a trained chef, where they were able to experience hands-on training in knife handling, kitchen safety and basic cooking principles. Through the training, participants also received their food handler card, chef’s coat and knife set, along with some fantastic transferable skills. We’ve had great success at the hiring event with local restaurants, where these people are now thriving and earning a self-sufficient salary in the hospitality industry.
The Health Care cohort was geared toward those interested in working as a Certified Practical Nurse or Home Care Aide and the Child Care Cohort was geared toward those interested in working in any type of child care environment. These trainings were designed with input from industry to include elements of soft skills development and job readiness and provided exposure to the tasks and responsibilities that these positions entail provided by experts in the field. The Chamber of Commerce gave presentations on self-employment, which explained how someone could pursue their own business if they were interested. Through these trainings, individuals received their food handler card, first aid/CPR certification, applicable pre-employment certifications, and had the opportunity to connect with local employers who are currently hiring. . Child care interns have also completed STARS training, which is a requirement for working in most child care settings.
Over the next nine months, Partners in Careers will work with Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) to help recruit and train individuals interested in becoming bus drivers and paraeducators. PIC and VPS will provide targeted training focused on building a diverse workforce and a richer future pipeline of qualified candidates for local school districts.
Providing targeted and personalized assistance in vocational training leading to employment as a bus driver or paraprofessional would result in more job seekers moving into these positions that offer decent pay and full benefits. This practice would build the capacity of school districts so that they are able to fully meet the needs of all students, thereby fulfilling the overriding duties set forth by Washington State.
The program would provide intentional recruitment from underrepresented communities, develop support systems for those interested in seeking employment in these fields, provide funding for training costs and other hiring prerequisites that are traditionally proven to be a barrier for underrepresented communities, and would expose people who want to find employment in these family-friendly careers that offer living wages and rich benefits.
Support will be provided to complete the pre-employment requirements required by the school district to ease the path to employment in these impactful positions working with youth in our community. The funds will be used to help offset initial costs typically paid by the candidate prior to being hired, such as fingerprint/background check fees, physical medical expenses, driver’s permit and license fees fees, certification test fees, first aid and CPR certifications and other training related fees. Allowances will be paid to candidates during the training.
Individuals who meet the prerequisites will then be connected with the school district for employment opportunities.
Eligibility requirements for the trainings include:
- Resident of Clark County
- Interest and ability to accept job offers following training
- Ability to meet job-specific requirements set by employers regarding background checks and physical abilities
- Willingness to learn and explore new career opportunities
Partners in Careers will also expand into other industries, which will be determined based on business needs and participant interest. We are excited to bring these cohorts to the community and help bridge the gap between job seekers and employers.
Funding for these programs was provided by the Community Foundation of SW WA, the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
For more information on these short-term trainings, contact Sharon Pesut, Executive Director, Partners in Careers, at [email protected] or 360-597-2060; Mary Nicholson, Chief Data and Compliance Officer, Partners in Careers, at [email protected] or 360-696-8417, ext. 104; Brett Blechschmidt, Associate Superintendent and Chief Operating Officer, Vancouver Public Schools, at [email protected] or 360-313-1341. To learn more about Partners in Careers, visit partnersincareers.org.