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Finding a Better Way to Move from 'Jobs' to 'Careers'

By Tony Ganzer, ideastream

One of the most prominent and perennial messages for voters from politicians is about the need for jobs—and last year we heard a lot about them:

DONALD TRUMP: “We’re losing our jobs, we’re losing our factories.  They’re going to China, they’re going to Mexico…”

HILLARY CLINTON: “…and these are jobs that can’t be exported. They’ve got to be done right here in Cleveland, in Youngstown, in Dayton, in Akron, in Columbus, in Cincinnati…”

JOHN KASICH: “…you want to believe again that we can have job security.  You want to believe again that wages can rise. You want to believe…”

Along with the talk of jobs, we often hear about wages, and about training or re-training, but are we talking about these things in the right way?

DEBORAH WYNN: “Patients room one all the way to the end…”

Deborah Wynn is a CTA at University Hospitals…

WYNN: “Which stands for Certified Technical Assistant, pretty much like a nurse’s aide.”

But for a long time she owned a hair salon, and then she got her real estate license. 

But these jobs weren’t enough.

WYNN: “I was looking for a career just to retire in.  And I found that the healthcare industry was the only field that I’d seen that didn’t take a downturn.”

A friend told Wynn about a program being administered through Towards Employment, an organization helping people find and keep work, and helping companies find workers.

Deborah Wynn 

WYNN: “It was a two week program, and it wasn’t a guarantee. I didn’t believe it, especially at my age, and it worked.”

Wynn is now 59-years-old, and sings the praises of a two-year program called Work Advance.  The program helped with resume writing, mock interviews, training, and career planning. 

The goal was to link employees with growth industries for our region—manufacturing, and, in the case of Wynn, healthcare.

WYNN: “I needed Towards Employment so bad.  Doing it on my own I had tried for almost three years, so there was no way. I was putting in application after application, and nothing worked.  With them as soon as I went in, two weeks and I had a job.”

RIZIKA: “It is very much a shift, from how quickly can we get somebody into a job, to thinking about a longer-term career and how to support that.”

Jill Rizika is Executive Director of Towards Employment.

RIZIKA: “There’s a lot of dynamics that push people into thinking about just a job.  From the individual standpoint, very often you need money in your pocket and you need a job, without thinking about how certain steps might position you for a bigger jump down the road.  And from the I guess workforce system side, the way funding is structured, very often the emphasis on the funding and performance measures was ‘how many people got a job, and how quickly.’”

Northeast Ohio was one of a handful of regions to use the Work Advance model that Deborah Wynn at UH benefited from, funded in part by a federal grant and local stakeholders. 

Instead of focusing on the number of jobs, the focus was on the entire experience.  Employers explained what they needed, and employees were trained and supported in finding a new career.

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