WorkSource Helps Ex-Offenders Transition into the Labor Force
An extended gap on a résumé can be a major red flag on a job application. It can be difficult for those who have been incarcerated for any length of time to present themselves on paper and to be competitive in a job search, even long after serving a sentence. WorkSource Spokane’s three-day Jumpstart to Employment program helps transition ex-offenders back into the labor market with classes on how to write and target résumés, search for jobs, and avoid having job applications automatically screened out.
The Jumpstart to Employment program culminates with the Affirmation Speech, which helps participants learn how to honestly and effectively discuss their conviction history with a potential employer and to reflect on the life changes they have gone through. ” The Affirmation Speech gives people with conviction histories a formula for talking about the positive things that they have accomplished, classes or programs they have completed, jobs held while incarcerated, and to discuss what changes they have made in their lives,” said Marcia Janes, Employment Specialist at WorkSource Spokane. “It helps to put their mistakes into perspective and shows potential employers the entire person.”
Although there can be many hurdles in the path of class participants entering the workforce, Jumpstart to Employment helps build the skills to take on those challenges. Leanne Crisp attended the class at WorkSource and was able to find employment soon thereafter. Unfortunately she had to re-start her job search merely a month later when the company’s corporate offices decided that they didn’t want to work with her felony re-entry program. With the skills she had learned at Jumpstart, Leanne was able to regroup and find a new job sorting recycling. “Certainly not glamorous, but it’s a job!” Leanne said. “[WorkSource] helped me regain some momentum and confidence.”
Jumpstart to Employment was originally run as a pilot project in 2017 at WorkSource Spokane, but classes will continue in 2018 starting in March. For more information on the program, please contact Marcia Janes: MJanes@esd.wa.gov
Supporting Workforce Efforts at the City and County
The Spokane City Council and Spokane Board of County Commissioners each recently approved policy changes to hiring processes that will impact individuals with criminal records applying for jobs within the City of Spokane and at Spokane County. This follows similar actions in a number of communities around the nation that are seeking to facilitate the transition of ex-offenders into gainful employment and contribute to reducing recidivism rates. The Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act specifically requires outreach and services to ex-offenders, and our local workforce system will partner with the City and County to develop strategies that align our work and effectively assist in connecting this population to resources that lead to employment.
Progressive Business Focus
Pioneer Human Services Builds Workplace and Life Skills for those Exiting Prison
The process of reintegrating into society after being released from prison can be very challenging. Many people face barriers including housing and employment. Pioneer Human Services is a statewide organization that helps those with criminal histories, substance abuse disorders, and mental health issues become healthy and productive members of the community through treatment, housing, and employment training. In Spokane, 41% of Pioneer’s own workforce are people with criminal backgrounds. “They are some of our best employees because they appreciate someone giving them a chance. In a time when reliable employees can be hard to come by and turnover is a challenge for all employers, these folks are some of the most loyal and committed you will find,” said Dan Sigler, Spokane Regional Director of Pioneer Human Services.
Pioneer recently transitioned their services at the Carlyle Center in downtown Spokane to operate as housing for those with criminal histories, and they now have nine programs in the Spokane area. In 2016, Pioneer provided services to about 2,000 individuals in Spokane, 70 percent of which had criminal histories.
For more information about Pioneer Human Services, please contact Dan Sigler, Spokane Regional Director: Dan.Sigler@p-h-s.com.