By Rebecca Danvers
According to an announcement by the city, Somerville’s “Pocket Change” workforce development program for low-income, out-of-school young adults has a new partner—Help Around Town, a website that allows businesses and residents to post one-off jobs and part-time employment opportunities at no cost to them.
While the Pocket Change program targets young adults aged 18-24 just entering the workforce, the Help Around Town platform can be utilized by all residents; anyone can post jobs and/or apply to them.
Young adults in the Pocket Change program can identify their membership by using a special badge, and employers can give preference to applicants with the Pocket Change badge on their profile. Pocket Change participants get alerts when new jobs become available and case managers help them to apply and follow up.
Through the site, Pocket Change case managers can track communication between job applicants and employers, assisting each applicant in the application process as they work to eventually match the participant with full-time employment opportunities. Job-posters can contact the Pocket Change case managers to provide feedback when necessary. Several participants in the Pocket Change program who applied for one-off jobs with Somerville businesses through the site and have already transitioned into more permanent employment with a local business.
On a broader level, the Help Around Town platform connects local residents with others in their community, to provide support and job opportunities in a hyper-local way. When you need a second set of hands on a project, this provides a new way to ask your neighbors for help.
Via a $7,500 contract through April 2015, the city will pay for improvements to the Help Around Town website platform that will allow the city to continue to use the site for the Pocket Change program through April and beyond. Funding for the contract and the Pocket Change program is provided through a $100,000 Working Cities Challenge Grant, awarded to the city in early 2014 by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
The Pocket Change program is designed to connect low-income, out-of-school young adults to full-time employment opportunities and reduce their chances of unemployment. Because many of the program’s participants have little formal work experience, the program links them with “micro-level” jobs around the city that provide a bit of “pocket change” and teach on-the-job skills. Pocket Change participants also take part in a series of soft-skill workshops that focus on job readiness skills, such as interviewing, resume writing and group dynamics, and hard-skill training such as CDL licensing, restaurant training and other certificate programs.
The Working Cities Challenge is an initiative with a two-fold goal: to advance collaborative leadership in Massachusetts’ smaller cities and to support ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in those cities.
For more information, or for businesses and residents interested in participating, please contact Amanda Maher, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-625-6600 x2528, or go to www.HelpAroundTown.com.