Oversight and Innovation
The PIC, Boston’s MassHire Workforce Board, charters career centers and oversees the distribution of federal funding and training vouchers in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD). Throughout the pandemic, the workforce system – which includes the PIC, OWD, career centers, training partners, and employers – has demonstrated responsiveness, commitment, and collaboration as Boston worked to meet the changing needs of a workforce in crisis.
In June, the MassHire Boston Workforce Board awarded new two-year charters to longtime career center operators JVS and Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries. In addition, the career centers collaborated with partners to offer Career Center Access Points through St. Francis House, Work INC, and the Boston Housing Authority Charlestown Adult Education. A new request for proposals for career center operators will be released in the fall of 2022.
The career centers offer employment services and access to training programs for jobseekers, as well as business services for employers. During 2021, they delivered services virtually through enhanced websites, new recruitment tools, and support from the MassHire Department of Career Services. Through an innovative partnership with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the career centers were able to provide equipment and connectivity for jobseekers as needed. With guidance from the PIC and Mayor Wu’s team, the career centers are now working toward the right balance of in-person and virtual services in order to meet the needs of various populations while remaining accessible to all. Many employers are struggling to fill open positions, and the career centers are responding by offering virtual recruitment and job fairs.
Under the aegis of Governor Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet, Boston leads a regional planning initiative in collaboration with the Metro North and Metro South/West MassHire workforce boards to improve alignment between training and high-growth occupations. Healthcare and IT are the region’s priority areas, although construction and hospitality remain priorities for Boston. PIC staff are working with education and economic development partners to increase the supply of workers with the credentials necessary for employment in these fields.
The PIC’s two industry convenings, the Boston Healthcare Careers Consortium and TechHire Boston, focus on workforce needs and opportunities in these sectors. The Healthcare Careers Consortium, led by an executive committee of workforce development professionals from Boston teaching hospitals, has identified challenges in the areas of acute care nursing and community health services. The Consortium recently received state funding to address these priorities. Meanwhile, TechHire is working to expand the talent pool and increase diversity by positioning nonprofit tech training programs as an effective alternative to traditional hiring practices.
Recognizing that more resources will be needed to assist in economic recovery, the state has increased funding for the workforce system to complement American Rescue Plan workforce funding. The PIC and its partners stand ready to ramp up to get Boston residents back to work and to help employers find the staff they need.
Lori D'Alleva, Charlestown Adult Education
As the Director of the Boston Housing Authority Charlestown Adult Education (CAE) program, located in the city’s largest housing development, Lori D’Alleva sees her role as lifting up a population that has been left behind by the city’s growing economy. Her programs for youth and adults operate at the intersection of education and workforce development, offering residents opportunities to learn and train in order to access better employment opportunities.
Under Lori’s leadership, CAE enrolls over 150 students annually across English language, high school equivalency, re-entry, and job training programs. This year, the challenges of recruiting, engaging, and motivating students were exacerbated by the pandemic. These challenges ranged from the routine (unstable internet connections) to the tragic (an increase in student homelessness due to pandemic-related job loss or family instability). While none of CAE’s programs were designed for the virtual environment, seventy percent of students had access to computers and were learning virtually within the first week of lockdown, a feat for which Lori credits her hardworking staff.
In November, thanks to Lori’s initiative and willingness to partner, Charleston Adult Education was named an Access Point for the MassHire Boston Career Center. As such, it will help to expand career center services to an area of the city that has previously been underserved. In addition, Lori contributes citywide as a member of the MassHire Boston Youth Council, which approves policy, strategy, and funding distribution for Boston’s annual WIOA Youth program allocation.
Lori is a passionate advocate for the residents of Charlestown public housing. She is committed to partnering, fundraising, and addressing inequities to ensure that her residents have access to opportunities to succeed.