It takes more than technical skills and job training to get hard-to-employ workers back to work in a highly dynamic, rapidly changing job market. It takes an 'intentional community'.
Richmond, California (PRWEB) June 26, 2014
“It takes more than technical skills and job training to get hard-to-employ workers back on a company's payroll,” workforce and employee assessment expert, Dr. Ira S. Wolfe, told Saffron Strand’s Fifth Annual Homeless Workforce Conference last week in Richmond, CA, near San Francisco.
Dr. Wolfe delivered the opening keynote address at the unique national forum, speaking to employment services professionals, government agency staff, non-profit directors, veterans groups, and others focused on getting the homeless and those at risk of homelessness back into the workforce for the long term. Wolfe, the president of Success Performance Solutions and author of several books on workforce trends, warned attendees about what he has called the “Perfect Labor Storm,” which is also the title of one of his books (http://www.perfectlaborstorm.com/).
“It's not just the homeless living out the tragedy of chronic unemployment,” Wolfe said. “The ‘Perfect Labor Storm’ puts every job and every career at risk.”
Wolfe described how disruptive technology, the Internet, globalization, and “demograplypse” – the impact of rapid demographic shifts – are converging to create unprecedented changes in the way business is conducted, workplaces are designed, jobs are defined, and work gets done. He urged his audience not to ignore what he calls the greatest employment killer of all -- the accelerating pace of change.
Richmond-based non-profit Saffron Strand, Inc. organized the June 16-17 conference on the theme, “Let's Get Serious: Skills, Jobs, and Careers as Paths Out of Homelessness and Poverty.”
Yvonne Nair, Saffron Strand founder and executive director, noted that the homeless “members” of her non-profit wanted to get back to work. However, in addition to the challenge of acquiring the necessary technical skills, they often faced other barriers to employment, including a spotty job history, criminal record, mental health or substance abuse issue, and lack of a personal support system. The homeless and others who are hard-to-employ, Nair said, comprised an extremely vulnerable population. To gain and sustain long-term employment, Saffron Strand members formed an “intentional community,” providing a support system for all members.
Judge Katherine Lucero, Superior Court of Santa Clara County, launched the second day of the conference, speaking about challenges at-risk youth faced in the legal system and gaining employment. Judge Lucero, too, emphasized how an intentional community can make be a big help for homeless, runaway, and foster-care youth as they seek education and training to enter the workforce.
In addition to the morning keynotes and plenary sessions, 15 afternoon workshops were presented by experts from business, education, health care, law, foster care, and more.
One of the most popular workshops, Nair noted, was Wolfe’s afternoon presentation about the Quality of Motivation. Wolfe confirmed that technical skills and job training were critical for re-employment, but alerted workshop participants that without basic life skills and self-esteem training, re-employment efforts would probably fail.
According to Wolfe, a certified Quality of Motivation specialist, a lack of understanding about motivation unintentionally sustains chronic unemployment, hindering the homeless, hard-to-employ, and long-term unemployed from getting back to work. Wolfe cited a large safety study that showed how employees, immediately after training, had higher rates of accidents.
“The same thing happens with other training if an individual’s quality of motivation isn't considered,” Wolfe said. “Motivation isn't just about high energy, intensity, and inspiration. Some people are highly motivated, yet their counter-productive habits and behaviors just keep them running in circles.”
Wolfe suggested that counter-productive motivation might be hindering re-employment initiatives. He pointed to the anonymous survey results of several Saffron Strand members, comparing them to high-potential job candidates in the workplace.
“These results highlight differences in the quality of motivation between our homeless members and other job applicants,” Nair said. “So Quality of Motivation testing may offer a new approach in helping the homeless get a job, doing work they like to do. It also may help them sustain employment, build or rebuild a career, and eventually climb out of poverty.”
Nair and Wolfe are hoping to pilot a homeless study using the Quality of Motivation program. Each volunteer would complete a 30-day personal formation process to identify and reduce counter-productive habits and prepare him or her for re-entry into the workforce. If possible, results would be shared at next year’s conference. Organizations interested in participating can contact Dr. Wolfe or Ms. Nair.
“This year's Conference was our best ever,” Nair said. “I feel like our ‘employment-first’ message is gaining traction with those across the country who work with the homeless and other vulnerable populations.”
Building on this year’s event, Nair noted that Saffron Strand’s 2015 Conference is already in the works. “We hope to report how the Quality of Motivation program can be used in an intentional community setting to increase long-term employment.”
For more about Saffron Strand, please visit http://saffronstrand.org or contact Yvonne Nair (tel. 510.275.9594, e-mail yvonne(at)saffronstrand(dot)org).