It's no secret that our region's economy has changed in many significant, mostly positive ways in recent years.
For many who come to us for help, though, the fruits of that growth are often not reachable.
To change that in a meaningful way, Catholic Charities, representatives of local industries in critical need of good, reliable, long-term employees, and other partners, joined forces to formulate a new approach to job training and placement.
The new workforce development initiative offers industry-inspired training programs specifically designed to lead to career paths that can help transition families out of poverty.
Opportunities in health care, hospitality/lodging, food service, and fashion/apparel manufacturing are all being addressed.
The effort is so much more than simply connecting clients with employers trying to fill hard-to-fill, low paying jobs, explained Pamela Russo, executive director.
"Our neighbors here in North Nashville are eager for opportunities that will improve the well-being of each person in their family," said Alisha Haddock, McGruder Family Resource Center (FRC) director. "Our heart and soul has gone into bringing the right industry partners to the table."
Four tracks are offered:
• Certified Nursing Assistant Training (at Metro General Hospital)
• Sewing Training Academy (at McGruder FRC)
• Hands on Hospitality/Lodging Training (at McGruder FRC)
• Kitchen Support Training (at Loaves and Fishes)
"This program is not just for one group of clients, though," Russo added. "It is for all of our clients, anyone who may have an inclination towards the work opportunities being provided." Refugees being resettled by Catholic Charities are also potential client/trainees.
"Within Catholic Charities, we have been able to pull from a wealth of knowledge in working with many populations in our community wanting to work, but challenged in trying to do so," continued Anthony Agosti, employment coordinator.
"Our new workforce development initiative has truly benefited from agency-wide partnerships, in a variety of locations, all with a history of connecting clients with employers." The program will directly and indirectly impact nearly 600 people in the first full year.
Ironically, the 2-year old Sewing Training Academy (STA), one of the tracks, was an early model for the initiative, given its work with the Nashville Fashion Alliance, local fashion designers, and area manufacturers.
Trishawna Quincy, STA instructor/coordinator, knows how meaningful this program can be. She has seen it work. "I get to see my client/students come in with a general interest for sewing and see them graduate from the program with skills allowing them to move to full-time employment."
Meaningful employment for a parent can be the foundation for an entire family to achieve a level of sustainability that endures through life's challenges, while, collectively, moving the needle on poverty for entire communities.