This year, the organization started its own chapter of a national organization called Jobs For Life that teaches people job skills as they search for employment.
“It’s moving right along,” said Harry Johnson, executive assistant at the CSA. “We are excited about the interest that has been generated.”
The program has so far consisted of twice-weekly meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m. at the CSA’s offices near the corner of Church and 6th streets across from the Old Woolen Mill.
In the classes, students who have been having trouble finding employment study a curriculum that teaches them everything from the importance of showing up to work on time every day to conducting themselves well in job interviews.
Johnson said part of the class is spent helping students figure out why they have not yet found employment.
“We’re trying to work through many of the roadblocks,” Johnson said.
Sitting in a recent class session, several students explained their career goals. One woman had been unemployed for years but wanted to work in the food service industry because she loved to cook. One man had past experience working in factories doing assembly line work and wanted another manufacturing job. Those were just two examples of people who had previous experience but needed help getting back on the job.
In addition to helping people find work, Johnson said he believes the program will leave Cleveland with more qualified workers as new industries continue to put down roots in and around the city.
“This is going to be vital for jobs coming up,” Johnson said.
While it is not a substitute for educational requirements that a job might have such as the need for a high school diploma or GED, he added that students are strongly encouraged to pursue educational opportunities outside the Jobs for Life program.
Avery Johnson, vice mayor of Cleveland, has been teaching the twice-weekly classes to help people become good potential workers.
“This is such a good program,” (Avery) Johnson said. “I wanted to be involved this time around.”
As part of the class, students have been working through a curriculum that discusses everything from how to fill out job applications to how to handle conflict in the workplace. The curriculum is presented from a Christian perspective.
Though the class started out with around 15 students, it has shrunk since seven students stopped attending in the middle of the program. Avery said six had found new jobs and one had decided to quit the class so he could devote more time to studying to earn his GED.
He said he expects others will find jobs as well.
“It really helps a lot of people,” Avery Johnson said.
In addition to learning skills that might help them search and interview for jobs, students spend time learning about skills they will need once they find one, including the importance of showing up on time to work every day and working hard to accomplish whatever goals their employer may have.
“Your actions always impact other people,” he told the class.
In order to graduating from the program, students must attend class sessions, create a vocational plan outlining what their career goals are, make a resume and complete homework assignments. A recent homework assignment had students making up a “60-second commercial” about themselves to tell a potential employer why they deserve a job.
In the future, Avery Johnson said he hopes to have local professionals volunteer to speak to the class about what skills are needed to work at their companies and perhaps mentor individual students as they go through their job-seeking processes.
CSA executive director Demetrius Ramsey said the Jobs for Life programs in Chattanooga have been successful at helping people find their own successes. The hope is Cleveland residents will be able to know the accomplishment of finding regular employment too.
The first jobs for Life class began in February and will last until early April. Harry said the CSA is observing the first class to see exactly how many weeks it will take for students to complete the coursework.
The CSA is currently accepting new students for the organization’s second Jobs for Life class set to begin in April. The class is for anyone who has been unemployed and may be looking for help as they launch or relaunch their career. The CSA is also looking for local professionals interested in volunteering with the class. For more information, call 479-4111.