In June 2020, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $452,000 through the Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW) initiative to support project New Start. New Start, administered by the Family Resource Center South Atlantic, focuses on employment assessment and training, job placement, and case management services for long-term unemployed adult workers in Halifax County.
Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work initiative launched in early 2020 at a time when both labor force participation and unemployment were low. A year later, work by organizations to identify populations with barriers to employment continues to meet the needs of employers looking for skilled employees.
The Family Resource Center provides general employment training and partners with the Center for Energy Education, which provides industry-specific and OSHA-10 certification training in conjunction with Halifax Community College. Training also qualifies the program completers for solar, electrical and construction-related jobs.
To date, the program has enrolled 40 justice involved participants and helped place 25 with quality jobs.
“We surpassed our goal,” said James Johnson, Program Director of the Family Resource Center South Atlantic. “Our participants are now earning an average of $14.50 per hour. For those in the solar field, they are making an average of $22 per hour with a $90 per day per diem. It would not have happened without the support of the Golden LEAF Foundation.”
Once participants are employed, Johnson said, they take the extra step to stay in touch with them for a three month period.
“We monitor our participants for at least three months, making sure they stay employed,” said Johnson. “So far, we have eight participants that have exited the program by staying employed for three months.”
One of the employers hiring participants in the New Start program is Wood Solar Company. The company has found the program to be a valuable resource for potential employees.
“The Solar Construction class facilitated by the Center for Energy Education has helped provide job opportunities to local residents,” said James A. Fisher, Manager of Craft Recruiting, Wood Solar Company. “This program is also offered to individuals who are looking to re-enter the workforce. We are very fortunate, and we find it extremely helpful in having this resource in our region to provide skilled and proficient people for our jobs.”
Perdue Farms has also hired Project New Start participants.
“I have had the privilege of working with clients from the re-entry program,” said Sandra Hardy, Associate Relations Rep., Perdue Farms, Inc. “Perdue Farms in Lewiston has hired a number of associates, as a result of the program. I feel the program is a great benefit to the region and would highly recommend it to other employers.”
With such a tight labor market, employers are finding these programs are helpful in the recruiting process thanks to the focus on successful employment for the participants.