An employment agency and workforce development company celebrated its new 30,000 foot-facility at a ribbon cutting.
America Works introduced its new social service facility in Morrisania on Wednesday, June 17 with community leaders, employers and program participants looking on.
The company has contracted with the Human Resources Administration to provide employment services, training and education to populations who may have barriers to entering the workforce including ex-offenders, people living with HIV and AIDS, long-term welfare recipients and those on Social Security disability.
“We become the network for people who don’t have networks,” said America Works CEO Lee Bowes, who added that the center provides help a prospective job applicant needs to land a position, and works directly with employers.
This can include training to pass examinations for certain certifications or licenses, getting a high school equivalency diploma or simply getting outfitted with interview clothes and brushing up a resume.
“We start matching people to jobs and we send them on interviews right away,” said Bowles, adding that this is an advantage that America Works has over other service providers.
One of the program participants, Francis Kumah, 47, of Bedford Park, said that he was steered to America Works by a Family Court judge after he could not make child support payments.
A native of Guyana who came to the United States in 1992, Kumah had lost his job and was having trouble finding a new one.
“I was happy that I was sent here because to look for a job on your own is not easy,” he said.
Kumah is now an Access-A-Ride driver with a Zerega Avenue-based company, GVC II.
“If people want to work, I would like them to come here,” he said of America Works, adding that he is now able to be independent and pay child support. “They can introduce you to companies and you can have options.”
David Silva of GVC II, the company that hired Kumah said that the company he works for collaborated with America Works in creating a Commercial Drivers License Training program.
In just two months, Silva estimates that the he had already hired about a dozen people from America Works.
Working with the for-profit America Works, which the city only pays once an employee gains employment and keeps the job for six months, has made recruiting drivers easier.
“We do a lot of recruiting…and that definitely takes a lot of time,” said Silva, who also said that working with America Works has cut down on the time it takes for the company to recruit drivers.
The facility, which is located at 424 E. 147th Street, has been in operation since March. In that time, according to the company, America Works enrolled over 2,000 program participants, placing 300 into jobs.