Jun 28, 2013 by

Barnstable Patriot Article
Written By: David Augustinho
June 28th 2013

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. -Charles Darwin, naturalist and author (1809-1882)

For this month’s column I want to highlight some of the work that the WIB has accomplished this past year.

Being responsive to change is the theme underpinning our work in 2013. Cutbacks in federal funding, reduced state allocations, and restructuring our School to Careers ArtWorks program each presented a unique opportunity to respond to change.

I am pleased to report that in each case the WIB was able to respond in a positive manner, always seeking opportunities in each dislocation. For example, last August we faced the prospect of losing ArtWorks, one of our School To Careers programs, due to financial difficulties that our partner was experiencing.

We worked with our School to Careers Committee seeking a way to be able to continue this important program. The Committee recommended that we speak with the leadership team at Heritage Museums and Gardens about hosting the program.

The leadership team at Heritage, led by Ellen Spear, enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to host the ArtWorks program, providing us a new partner going forward. Working with Heritage we were able to serve as many student artists as before. Even better, we were able to expand the arts offerings available for our students. Exhibit Design, Landscape Architecture, Poetry, Fiction Writing, Film and Computer Animation were added to the curriculum. Other partners stepped forward, many thanks to the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, the Cape Cod Five Foundation, and Inspire Salon in Hyannis for providing financial support to the ArtWorks program.

The final product with ArtWorks is an impressive response to what was, in August, a dire situation. While the response to this individual situation is important, I think that the underlying process of the Board, which is always seeking positive outcomes, clearly demonstrates that the WIB recognizes that change is inevitable and must be embraced.

In the area of federal and state funding cutbacks the response has focused on actively seeking out resources that will allow us to continue our work. In this case we were able to secure a discretionary grant through the Commonwealth’s Workforce Competitiveness Trust fund. This 3 year $350,000 grant, which will provide a wide variety of training in health care, helps us to maintain our level of effort in general while we concentrate on the particulars of this important sector initiative. We will continue to seek foundation and other funding to support our efforts.

At this year’s Annual Meeting we announced the award of a $10,000 unsolicited grant from Eastern Bank. This award recognizes the positive impact that the Workforce Investment Board has on our community. I believe that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that through our training and employment efforts many individuals are able to be lifted out of poverty.

For example, while we were putting together the WCTF grant mentioned above, one of our long term care partners mentioned that of nine CNA’s that we trained to be LPN’s back in 2005, seven are still working at her facility. Raising workers to family sustaining wage occupations is important work, and we do it very well.

In our role as the provider of actionable data on the workforce and economy we hosted a presentation by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The presentation showcased valuable up-to-date information useful to businesses and non-profits in the region. We partnered with the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce to bring the Federal Reserve Bank to the region.

This year the WIB began a new collaborative project with the Barnstable School District, the Gateway Cities program. The project seeks to provide a richer connection to the world of work at the High School level through the creation of Career Academies.

This year the WIB continued our relationship with several state agencies, serving as the local intermediary for a number of statewide efforts. These included working with the State Office of Diversity in hosting a workshop on Cape to assist local minority owned and operated businesses to apply for recognition as a minority business by the State.

The Minority designation allows a local business to apply for state contracts and to receive priority status when applying. In addition many agencies who receive state contracts are required to purchase a percentage of our annual outside expenditures from minority businesses.

We again worked with the State Division of Industrial Accidents to provide a workshop for Cape and Island businesses on how to apply for safety training grants up to $25,000. This is the third time that we have hosted this training and over 12 local businesses who attended our workshops have received grants.

This year we also hosted a workshop for the Workforce Training Fund. The WTF provides businesses with up to $250,000 in matching funds to train their employees. We have worked with the fund since its inception, helping local businesses to secure over $3,000,000 in training funds. We also met individually with over 15 businesses to make them aware of the WTF and encouraged them to submit applications.

This year the WIB and Career Opportunities continued our work with the Community College system in the implementation of a $20 million Department of Labor Transformational Agenda grant. The grant is providing a framework for a closer working relationship between the Career Center and the College. It will also allow the College to better design and implement training and certificate courses that are more closely aligned with the needs of workers and businesses in the region.

This year the WIB continued our collaboration with a large number of local organizations, including:

Arts Foundation of Cape Cod

Barnstable County

Barnstable Patriot                           

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

 Cape Cod Young Professionals

Cape Cod Foundation

Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank

 Cape Business Magazine

Housing Assistance Corporation

Inspire Salon of Hyannis                               

Dennis-Yarmouth School District

Barnstable School District

 Cape Cod Regional Technical School

 Upper Cape Tech

Cape Cod Community College

Cape Cod Tech Council

Martha’s Vineyard Chamber

 Martha’s Vineyard Commission

 Massachusetts Workforce Board Association

Nantucket Community School

ACCESS Program

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council

 We Can

Finally I want to recognize the professionalism and productivity of the entire WIB staff. Razza Millard,  Joan McDonald and Andrea Melvin make it possible to accomplish everything detailed above, thank you.

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