CARITAS Works is an intensive 5-week, 8-hour a day job search preparation and life skills development program for motivated individuals who have barriers to employment such as homelessness, employment gaps, criminal convictions and/or are recovering from addiction. The typical class size is 12 students. The program began in January 2011, and as of June 2013, we have run 20 classes with 209 individuals completing the program. Of those, 77% have found either regular or transitional employment.
The Works program encompasses traditional job search preparation training such as job search strategy; filling out paper and on-line applications; resume development; interviewing skills including participation in a Mock Interview process with community volunteers; dress for success, and networking. All graduates must have three professional references; and they are provided with a portfolio and business attire which they must wear to class. They are also provided with a series of classes to increase computer literacy.
We blend job and life skills into the training programs and experiences designed to increase our students’ effectiveness and success as employees, family members and citizens. Through experiential learning, students examine their values and build skills in personal accountability; teamwork; communication; conflict management; dealing with change, and leadership. Participants are asked to look hard at their past life and the choices they have made, and throughout the program are held accountable for applying the concepts they have learned and acting in a professional manner. They continue to gain confidence and learn to truly exhibit positive choice-making and professional conduct in their lives.
In addition we provide training in budgeting, how to improve your credit score, and how to get your license back to help prepare them for re-entering society and achieving independence as a working citizen.
Once our students graduate, they are provided with transitional internship opportunities while they engage in their job search. They are also provided with an email address, a voice mail box and access to our computer lab in order to facilitate their search. Works staff supports them by helping with their strategy, providing leads, connecting graduates with potential employers, and advising and coaching them through the job search process. All job seekers are required to attend “Job Club” every Friday where they have to report on their job search and provide ideas and support to each other.
Once a graduate finds a job, we follow up with them for 12 months to support them in their transition. We also collect and track a variety of data in order to measure and evaluate our success.
CARITAS Works is supported by a host of community volunteers from a variety of backgrounds including retired CEO’s of major corporations, human resource professionals, attorneys, retired school administrators, representatives from government and human services agencies, and clergy. The program would not be a success without the help of these committed and talented individuals.