WASHINGTON, DC – District of Columbia adult learners were awarded graduate certificates, trade certifications and immediate job placement in positions in the hospitality and construction industries, part of two special ceremonies conducted under an innovative partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), industry employers, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations to provide industry-specific training, professional skills development and career placement for District residents.
“Improving our economy is a top priority in my administration,” said District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray, noting his ‘One City One Hire’ initiative as an example of the District’s commitment to career training during his address to HOPE (Hospitality Outreach Pathways to Employment) program graduates today at their commencement ceremony at the Embassy Suites Hotel Convention Center. “Improvement is not possible without programs like this, the partners that run them and the District residents that complete them.”
“Adult learners are critical to improving the quality of the District of Columbia workforce,” said State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley Jones, citing that District initiatives such as Raise DC have helped the District’s unemployment rate decline for six consecutive months. “We are very pleased that our partners stepped up to meet the needs of District residents and that these programs serve as pathways to better lives and careers.”
Both developed and funded by the OSSE Division of Postsecondary and Career Education, the HOPE program provided ten weeks of intensive instruction under a nationally-recognized curriculum of Skills, Tasks and Results Training (START) in the hospitality sector, while the construction program – administered by noted construction general contractor Hensel Phelps Construction Co., provided twelve weeks of professional development training in construction and federal safety standards, as well as job readiness education, case management and other supportive services.
HOPE graduates received START instruction, monitoring and coaching under hospitality consortium Progressive Partners, while workforce development agency Goodwill Industries was responsible for program recruitment, screening and ‘soft skills’ training, as well as ongoing case management for participants during the program and upon job placement. The Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning Division of the Community College of the District of Columbia provided academic assessments and ongoing educational opportunities for HOPE participants.
“Progressive Partners is committed to hiring DC residents,” said Progressive Partners’ Thomas Penny, noting that the hospitality industry generates nearly $600 million per year in local tax revenue. “The HOPE program furthers that commitment by ensuring access to START training and workforce education.”
“Hensel Phelps is honored to work with OSSE and STRIVE DC to train and employ District residents for employment within the construction industry,” Hensel Phelps Operation Manager Stan Carlat described, adding that Hensel Phelps recently achieved 43% cumulative DC resident participation on their Marriott Marquis Convention Center Hotel project -- with a DC resident new hire percentage of 64%. “We are committed to ensuring District of Columbia residents are provided opportunities to participate in projects located in the community in which they live.”
“This was a unique opportunity for us to work directly with an employer,” explained STRIVE DC Executive Director Chris Hart-Wright. “Through this experience, we have been able to address the needs of the employer by providing professional employability skills to meet the needs of each participant with case management support.”
Today’s commencement ceremony marks the second graduating HOPE class of 2012, with a total of 40 participants trained and employed in the program’s inaugural year. Hensel Phelps, whose graduation took place September 13, 2012, provided training and employment to 17 District of Columbia residents.