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Birmingham Housing Residents Graduate Pilot Program, ‘Ready to Work’

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More than a dozen residents with Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) on Friday completed a Ready to Work program designed for public housing residents offered workforce training and provided resources that alleviate or eliminate employment barriers. (Sym Posey, The Birmingham Times)

By Sym Posey

The Birmingham Times

More than a dozen residents with Housing Authority of the Birmingham District (HABD) on Friday completed a Ready to Work program with 10 of the 14 immediately hired.

HABD and the Onin Group, a privately held staffing company, hosted a Signing Day” and graduation at the Negro League Southern Museum for the residents who finished a five-week Workforce Development pilot program. Upon completion of the training, residents will receive an ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), an Alabama Career Essentials (ACE) certificate, and one free college course.

“This is a celebration of new beginning,” said Jacqueline French, Director of Workforce Development at the HABD.

The program, designed for public housing residents ages 18 and older to address low labor market participation in adults, offered workforce training, helped participants develop soft skills, and provided resources that alleviate or eliminate employment barriers.

This is the first time that the HABD and The Onin partnered, and the training was open to residents from Collegeville, North Birmingham, and Marks Village communities.

“We only had 15 slots. We had to put others on the waiting list. The next time we will target more,” said French.

She added, “Onin Staffing funded this program to help [residents] gain employment. In addition, they wanted to make sure they had the tools to be successful in those new jobs … our goal is to make sure not only are our residents on the path to self-sufficiency, but we also want them to have everything they need on that journey.”

Tiffany Bishop, a Regional Workforce Development Manager for The Onin Group, said their goal is “to build a talent pipeline in Birmingham. This program was created to address the workforce participation rate. There are [some] who are not participating because of barriers like a car or childcare, so this is why we partnered with the Housing Authority.”

Over the course of the pilot program, participants completed the Alabama Career Essentials (ACE) training course and were supported by employer collaboratives Altec, Ball Healthcare, CMC Steel, Birmingham Fasteners, and Vulcan Painters with industry tours and job interviews and more.

As one of the employer partners, Ball Healthcare extended offers to 10 residents. Hiron Spencer, Director of Human Resources at Ball Healthcare said, “We were pleased that they [HABD and Onin] reached out to us for this inaugural program to be an employer partner because they know our need in the work force particularly in healthcare.”

She added, “We have a constant need for employees who are ready to work, who have those soft skills needed to transition into that direct patient -care role … often there’s the gap in people who need work and getting them to the employer who needs them to work. This is the perfect opportunity to merge the two.”