The Bronx Help Identify Real Employment program continues to grow and evolve in its first year as it strives to connect Bronxites to jobs.
The program has already helped about 350 people find employment, and is now offering free training in certificate programs to the unemployed and underemployed.
Senator Jeff Klein and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce held the program’s first Certification Fair on Wednesday, April 8 inviting employers with positions requiring certifications to connect with prospective employees.
Once the applicants express interest in an opening, Bronx HIRE will pay to train each individual to obtain at least one certification in over 500 potential career opportunities.
This removes barriers to employment, and can even fight wage stagnation – a growing issue locally and nationally – by opening doors to new careers, said Klein at the event, held at the Hutchinson Metro Center.
“As certificate programs can often be costly and serve as a barrier to employment, I’m proud to offer 500 certificate program slots at no cost to all our attendees,” said Klein, who added that for too long the Bronx has had the bad distinction of having the highest unemployment in the state.
The people running the program continue to follow up with individuals seeking jobs, and even if they don’t get a job after the first interview, said Klein.
“It is a hands on program,” said the senator. “We follow up with individuals all of the time.”
Attendees and employers each had their own goals and reasons for being a part of the fair. Attendee Vincent Daddio of Morris Park said he was looking for a job in security.
“I am going to see which security companies are here and give them my resume,” he said, adding that he already had security certification. He was approaching the event more as a traditional job fair.
Job-candidate Robert Carson of Eastchester said that he heard about Bronx HIRE through a newspaper advertisement, and so far has been impressed by the follow through of coordinators helping him each step of the way.
“It speeds up the process and makes you more confident that you can get a job,” said Carson.
Employer Ken Nero, a CEO of computer firm Ikon Business Group, an information technology company, said he grew up in the Bronx and he knows that a lot of people could take advantage of an opportunity to work in the IT field.
“There are lot of people who have the aptitude, they just need this opportunity and a little bit of exposure to it,” he said.
Irene Gunaill, of Meet the Sellers, was there to encourage applicants to sign up for a real estate salesperson certification.
For certain applicants, the three-week course can lead to high incomes, she explained.
“With ten deals, you can make $100,000” she said. “Ten sales a year is not even one a month – you could take two months off.”
Klein said that he is currently developing a partnership with Hostos Community College, which may potentially do job training in a whole host of certifications, especially in health care.
Joseph Kelleher, chairman of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, said that a certification fair would help borough employees build their credentials and become employed.
“We are witnessing tremendous economic growth across the borough,” said Kelleher. “New businesses and developments are choosing to invest in the Bronx, which produces more jobs and benefits the Bronx economy.”