MassHire helps expand career readiness, plans annual HR meeting /

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The MassHire Berkshire Staffing Commission It has helped more than 1,000 students in the past year in career connecting activities in various sectors.

“To date, we have conducted 14 career awareness activities for approximately 902 students and five career exploration activities for approximately 482 students,” Youth Director Heather Shogry-Williams announced at the quarterly meeting last week.

“We have a lot of great career awareness and exploration activities coming up over the next few months, so those numbers are definitely going to increase.”

This includes job preparation workshops and career fairs, speaker events and exploratory courses.

The organization’s School to Career database shows 270 young people have been placed in internships and structured work experience this year, 77 percent of the target.

These were from a variety of critical sectors including construction trades, hospitality, health care, education and childcare, human services and manufacturing.

Most of the jobs – 120 – were in education and kindergarten.

MassHire received extensive funding through the BERK12 initiative from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to support rural school districts. This has allowed it to invest in rural districts, providing grants to faculty and staff involved in college and career teams and up to $2,000 in stipend reimbursements for 42 fellows.

An additional $15,000 was received from DESE for a virtual financial literacy course for high school students. The course is currently offered to 15 high school students and one teacher.

Shogry-Williams noted that regional innovation this year is expanding college and career paths. oosac Valley High School, Mount Everett High School, Monument Mountain High School, Lenox High School and Pittsfield High School were invited to apply for planning assistance and Part B designation.

The innovation track provides an overview and exploration of the industry for students focused on critical sectors.

The organization is working with Berkshire Health Systems to develop a practice assistant course for health-track students at Lenox, Monument and Hoosac Valley high schools. MassHire’s college and career teams have helped other schools expand career readiness systems and activities.

“Our college and career teams are rocking this year,” Shogry-Williams said.

“They’re doing an amazing job expanding their school districts’ college and career planning systems. I’m so happy to say that we have a college and career team in every district. That’s been a dream of mine for a very long time and it’s happening.”

The annual board meeting will return in person on June 8, Executive Director Heather Bougler announced.

“Ultimately, personally, we won’t have the option of a hybrid,” he said. “There will be an in-person meeting at the Northern Hotel in June, so we’re very excited. We’ll have the annual awards and guest speakers.”

Berkshire Black Economic County President and CEO AJ Enchill provided an overview of council services and recent activities.

The Berkshire Black Economic Council It was first created in 2019 and entered in 2021. It recently received 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation from the Internal Revenue Service.

The council provides technical assistance to Berkshire County’s Black employers and the approximately 98 Black-owned businesses currently in its directory.

Enchill is serving as co-chair of Governor Maura Healey’s “jobs and a thriving economy for all” policy committee, which is charged with building a dynamic economy that lowers costs for people and businesses while uplifting workers.

Along with Downtown Pittsfield Inc and MassDevelopment, BBEC will offer grants to small businesses new to the downtown Pittsfield area.

“Because of Covid, we’ve lost a lot of business in our downtown area,” explained Enchill.

“So to reactivate our downtown, we’re providing these grants to adapt the space inside those empty storefronts, turn them into a turnkey solution, so that the new business owners can get the setup they need to move forward.”

There is also flexible capital that can be used to leverage negotiations with a landlord.

“How will your business complement the other key criteria we have for businesses on North Street?” Enchill said, they want to fill vacancies and support entrepreneurs, but they also want to connect them with resources, he added.

Tags: staff development,

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