New Haven Works; So Does Osikhena

After he submitted unanswered job applications for two years, New Haven Works helped open a door to a new job for Osikhena Awudu. On Wednesday he helped open a door for the new “jobs pipeline” agency itself.

Awudu (pictured), who’s 34, was a featured speaker at a grand opening ceremony Wednesday afternoon at 205 Whitney Ave., the headquarters of New Haven Works.

The opening of the new not-for-profit agency is the culmination of an effort by the Board of Aldermen, the city, unions, and local employers.

New Haven Works is designed to connect New Haveners seeking work with local employers looking to hire. The organization will help employers find good recruits, and help job seekers be prepared to put their best foot forward.

New Haven Works’ ground-floor offices were packed for the event Wednesday afternoon. Dozens gathered to listen to local and state elected officials—including Gov. Dannel Malloy—salute the new organization. They also heard from three former job-seekers who have found work with the help of New Haven Works.

Awudu said he sent “countless applications” looking for work in New Haven, including applying to Yale “many times.” After connecting with New Haven Works, he sat down with a human resources specialist at Yale.

“I got feedback for the first time ever about what I was doing wrong,” Awudu said. He learned he’d been applying to jobs that he wasn’t fully qualified for.

He also got the face time he needed to make a personal impression. Awudu said Yale receives “such a volume” of applications that it uses a computerized filter to weed out many of them. Sitting down with an actual person helped Awudu bypass that filter. Yale Law School hired him as a senior administrative assistant three weeks ago.

Also three weeks ago, Josue Rodriguez (pictured), another New Haven Works participant, started a temp job with Yale’s information technology department. Angela Moore landed a part-time job at Yale’s Office of International Affairs and last week interviewed for a full-time spot.

Awudu, Rodriguez, and Moore are three of about 40 people New Haven Works has helped place in jobs during a pilot program with Yale and the city, said Mary Reynolds, who runs the new agency. Wednesday’s ceremony means the organization is officially launching and will work with more employers, including Yale-New Haven Hospital and UIL Holdings, United Illuminating’s parent company.

Board of Aldermen President Jorge Perez (pictured) was the first to speak at Wednesday’s event, thanking everyone involved.

“We’re a Connecticut city,” said Mayor John DeStefano (pictured), who’s on the New Haven Works board. Connecticut cities are different from surrounding towns, he said. “We’re not just for some people; we’re for everybody.” Work is essential for dignity and for providing better future for one’s kids, he said.

State Attorney General George Jepson spoke of his experience as legal counsel for a carpenters union. He said he saw the transformative power of job training, not just for a person but for a community.

Anthony Rescigno, head of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, said New Haven Works will be good for employers. Job applicants will be “screened, checked, and vetted,” giving them “instant credibility” with employers, he said.

Peter Salovey, Yale’s president-in-waiting, spoke about the importance of aligning town and gown interests, to benefit everybody.

Gov. Malloy hailed New Haven Works as a way to “share economic opportunity with the people who built this city.”

Then he helped cut a ceremonial ribbon with an enormous pair of scissors.

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posted by: Anderson Scooper on June 5, 2013  5:37pm

Hooray! New Haven jobs going to New Haven residents!

It looks like Yale is on board with hiring locally. How long before we get the City government to do the same?

posted by: Paul Wessel on June 5, 2013  7:14pm

Will be great to hear how New Haven Works is building upon and integrating the body of work of Local 34/35 - Yale New Haven Resident’s Training Program, Yale New Haven Hospital and other employers’ partnership with STRIVE New Haven, the United Way-funded Emerge program, the Building Trades - City Construction Workforce Initiative and the federally-funded Workforce Alliance.  The potential for sustained, coordinated work is extraordinary.  Looking forward to see how this plays out on the ground.

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 5, 2013  8:21pm

Actually the mayor is incorrect when he asserts that “we are for everybody.”

You, and the job market at large, are not for people who are 55+ and who are raising children or grandchildren.

These seniors are experienced, oft-times educated, and also need jobs for their dignity and to take care of the children in their care.

Ageism is the civil rights issue of our time—not public education.

posted by: anonymous on June 5, 2013  9:07pm

Anderson - 10,000 unemployed, and we are cheering about 40 people? Let’s see how it pans out. How many people finding work were “long term” unemployed versus people who recently lost their job and likely would have found work right away? How many are still employed full time after 4 months on the job? Of those who hold onto a job for a year how many stayed in New Haven (or more importantly in Newhallville)? Without these answers the program is a PR stunt at best, a counterproductive program making neighborhoods even more divided and diverting resources from where they are most needed at worst.  I’m happy for the guys who found a job in New Haven but I’d like to see a few years of results. With no other context 40 (or even 400) people getting a job up against 5,000 annual job separations and 80% unemployment among youth doesn’t sound like progress.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 6, 2013  7:57am

Snake-Oil.They will be laid off within Two Years.

posted by: anonymous on June 6, 2013  8:41am

3/5, for once you may be right (sadly).

posted by: Noteworthy on June 6, 2013  10:09am

It would have been a great celebration if not for the politicians. I’m glad for those who have gotten help connecting with employers and getting jobs. I hope there are many, many more. Unemployment in New Haven is deep in the double digits and it’s been stuck there a long time.

Without exception, these same politicians have contributed greatly to the lack of jobs, poor economy and anemic recovery. Debt, spending, taxes and regulations have depressed housing values, increased the misery index, raided family budgets and chased companies away. While there are exceptions, the only sectors that are showing strength are eds and meds - Yale, Yale New Haven Hospital and bio-tech.

The problem with the politicians is that they just don’t get it. They don’t understand how their policies are destructive even as they give lip service to creating jobs.

posted by: Brutus2011 on June 6, 2013  10:46am

I agree with almost all of what “Noteworthy” opines with one exception.

“Noteworthy” states that politicians just don’t get it. I disagree.

I think politicians get it just fine.

They just don’t care.

Their first priority is to get elected, or re-elected, and that creates all sorts of problems for the rest of us.

Elected representatives are supposed to serve the collective us.

Note please the use of “serve” as opposed to “lead.”

posted by: win win on June 6, 2013  11:22am

Although it’s just getting started this has the potential to be a ground-breaking program. Progressive leaders of the economic and racial justice sector around the country are watching eagerly in the hopes that it will become a replicable model. And with 10,000 New Haveners out of work - we ALL need it to succeed. For the security of our communities, for the growth of our economy, for the well-being of our neighbors and their children.

Instead of kvetching I hope readers who care about the future of our city and its residents will go out and DO something to ensure this program succeeds in tackling chronic unemployment - particularly in African-American and Latino communities. Instead of formulating conspiracy theories I call on the usual smart, educated commenters to apply their ample powers of persuasion to the task of convincing New Haven’s employers who haven’t signed on to the pipeline to do so. Unless, that is, you actually WANT this program to fail so you can say “I told you so” at the expense of a thousand or more out of work residents who could’ve found stable employment through New Haven Works. I’d like to think you’re better than that.

If we want this to be a thriving, safe, healthy city we have got to invest in improving the dire economic circumstances faced by so many New Haven families. That means investing in quality jobs for local people. Not just in East Rock or Westville, but in places that are bearing the brunt of decades of failed local and national policies. Their success will be our success. Or we could continue on the path to being the most unequal place in the country. Which will it be?

posted by: dorothy25 on June 6, 2013  12:55pm

A lot of work and coordination has gone into getting New Haven Works up and running.  Great work to all of the stakeholders - Yale, the unions, the mayor, the BOA etc.  Great work especially to the many volunteers who are putting in a lot to ensure this program gets off the ground and can quickly set upon helping connect many more New Haveners to jobs.

posted by: lawrence st on June 6, 2013  2:09pm

I’m so happy to see that New Haven Works is doing so well. This is an amazing start, and I see no reason why it won’t continue. Thank you for all your hard work. This shows that we can make New Haven a good place to live and work, for everyone.

posted by: accountability on June 6, 2013  3:48pm

This is a fascinating start. The federal and state governments spend billions of dollars a year on “job training” that often trains people for non-existent or dead-end jobs. While not completely worthless, those programs tend only to really succeed in placing people in good jobs when a particular employer IDs a difficult-to-fill job title and the government sets up a targeted training program.

Much of the rest of their work is fruitless because there’s virtually never any accountable commitment from employers to place program graduates in jobs. It almost never succeeds on any kind of mass scale.

In New Haven, the city’s largest employer, which experiences both rapid growth and significant turnover, has made a commitment. That employer’s unions went to the bargaining table and negotiated contractually enforceable structures that will help hold the University accountable to that commitment, and the city launched a partnership to provide resources to facillitate the process.

All three of the jobs described in the article are clerical and technical jobs opened up in part by the jobs pipeline clauses in Local 34’s new contract.

The numbers are actually impressive for a pilot project. Most people don’t realize that Yale’s central administration can’t just waive its magic wand and force managers and faculty to hire hundreds of people. Many departments raise their own money and guard their hiring authority jealously.

Given that difficulty, 40 placements on the day the of the office’s grand opening is impressive. Clearly, New Haven Works hit the ground running, doing substantive work quietly while starting up its logistics. Congratulations to Ms. Reynolds and her team.

If you’re impatient with the numbers, remember that this isn’t happening anywhere else. Not with contractual accountability and this level of joint employer/union/city effort.

Great start. Congrats to New Haven works, Yale, and the Yale unions. Now let’s go big.

posted by: Eddie on June 6, 2013  4:29pm

It is great to see this program get off the ground.  I know it is the product of hard work and cooperation between many many individuals.  I hope for its continued success and that it puts a real dent in unemployment and underemployment.  With the hard fought support of Yale, this program has the potential to scale.  Congratulations to all involved in this project.