In December, DEW and Transitions, a Columbia-based organization that transitions people from homelessness into permanent housing, completed a pilot program to assist those who are homeless develop skills needed to land a job.
About 55 people started the six-week Back to Work program in October and 19 finished it. Another four people were offered jobs before the program ended. Of those 19, nine have found work, and the others are being assisted one on one by DEW staff with finding jobs and with development of soft skills that are needed for them to be successful on the job.
Craig Curry, Transition’s CEO, said a lot of the people he sees coming through Transitions have been “lost in the shuffle” and didn’t get the attention they needed earlier in life.
The Rev. Robert Walker, pastor of Main Street United Methodist Church, offered classroom for the program. The program was led by Patrick Thomas, DEW’s regional manager of the Midlands, and his staff.
The Back to Work program teaches participants practical skills, and it includes training for enhancing self-esteem and motivational skills. Lasting six weeks, the program begins with a “boot camp” designed to implement immediate positive change.
Session Highlights Include:
- Assessment of skills, abilities and work potential as well as job coach assignments.
- Resume templates to be sequentially completed section-by-section over the course of the program.
- Basic or advanced computer skills course or depending on skill level.
- Navigating employment websites and review of resources needed for employment, such as references and interview clothing.
- Expectations, social skills and behavioral styles for the job search process as well as employment.
- Exploration of careers and job types, as well as discussion of realistic expectations for employment.
- Overview of Federal Bonding Program.
The program was capped with a graduation ceremony and a hiring event.
Curry said he was excited to have the hiring event following the program and feels that is the main reason people stuck with the program for the entire six weeks.
“If only a handful of people get jobs, this program will be a success,” Curry said.