The first part of the discussion describes HIRED and its programs. The
second part deals with the issue of getting HIRED's participants to
wherever the jobs might be located.
Part I. Preparing
people for work.
HIRED's mission is to
prepare people for jobs and connect them with local companies. "We
have not strayed from that mission at all since our founding in 1968,"
said HIRED Executive Director Jane Samargia. She made these other key
points about HIRED and its programs:
HIRED's approach is to work closely
with the business community to prepare people for career
advancement." We also
focus on human service supports," Samargia said. "We're
industry-driven in terms of the kinds of jobs we prepare people for
and the kinds of training programs we develop."
All of HIRED's services are free,
both to jobseekers and to employers. The
programs are publicly funded through government contracts that HIRED
bids on, in addition to fundraising from individuals, foundations
and corporations. HIRED is also supported by the Greater Twin Cities
Each year, HIRED serves 11,000 to
12,000 people in all of its programs.
Responding to a question about where HIRED's participants come from,
Samargia said that in the public assistance program for parents with
children, HIRED must accept all people referred from county
financial assistance, if they report for orientation and enrollment.
Among other people, HIRED sometimes does pre-screening, but mostly
takes everyone who comes to them, as long as program resources to
serve the people are still available. The organization gets
referrals from schools, other nonprofit organizations, corrections
programs and Minnesota Job Service and has put its own counselors in
schools, such as Patrick Henry and North
People in HIRED's programs are
diverse. They range in
age from 14 to 70; 51 percent are on public assistance; 66 percent
are female, most with children; 50 percent are people of color; and
27 percent have no high school diploma.
The organization has 16 sites
throughout Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota Counties.
"We don't own any buildings," she said. "We've moved around over the
years, because we take our services where they're needed. We've
operated inside of prisons and in high schools. We sometimes provide
services on site for businesses laying people off, if they permit
HIRED has 140 staff members who
provide services for 11,000 clients.
"We have to be very economical and efficient in what we do,"
HIRED has five major program areas:
For families transitioning from
public assistance. Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
program is the federally funded public assistance program for
families. It has a five-year lifetime limit for participation.
For laid-off workers. Services are
provided to get them retrained and back into the job market.
For low-income adults.
For at-risk youth. Many are
homeless and have aged out of foster care.
For employers. The employer
services division works very closely with the business community
to obtain information needed to develop employer-driven training
HIRED's services to clients are very
person has a case management counselor, who manages all needed
services. Each client has a personalized employment plan that takes
into account their own situation and their family's situation. The
plans are quite complex, including timelines, resources needed to
resolve barriers or to provide for training and education, and
specific goals to be attained.
youths, the primary focus is to make sure they have at least their
high school education completed. HIRED then tries to move them on to
postsecondary education or to a job. "People are in our programs for
different lengths of time, with different levels of concentration,"
The employer services division works
with the business community.
HIRED has advisory boards with 119 companies represented that help
the organization plan its training programs and keep up to date on
labor information and the kinds of skills people who come to work
need to learn. There is a general advisory board and also specific
ones for manufacturing, health care, customer service, "green" jobs
and transportation occupations.
HIRED, Hennepin Technical College
and suburban manufacturing employers have been working together to
try to bridge the skills gap for new manufacturing jobs. Samargia
said that in 2005, manufacturing companies in suburban Hennepin
came to HIRED and its partners at Hennepin
College saying they couldn't find people to hire. They were quite
concerned about the pipeline of employees, especially with the aging
of their master craftsmen. In response, HIRED established its
manufacturing advisory board, an advisory committee of employers and
people from Hennepin
Technical College. In some
cases, companies lent their master craftsmen to teach classes in
manufacturing skills. Many partner companies hired graduates of the
manufacturing training program, which was termed "M-Powered."
HIRED's outcomes for the first 8
months of fiscal year 2013 (from July 1, 2012, through February,
2013) include the following:
Jobseekers served: 8,809.
People placed in jobs: 1,738.
Disadvantaged people placed in jobs: 967.
Average wage for people placed in all jobs, including those that are
Average wage for people placed in unsubsidized jobs: $14.72.
Samargia explained that her organization has a number of people in
training and also high school kids who aren't actively looking for
jobs. It also works with people who need two to three years to get
prepared to go to work.
Currently, HIRED contracts with the
City of Minneapolis and Hennepin, Ramsey and Dakota Counties. The
contracts are paid using federal funding streams that are
administered through the state and local government; some state
funds and a very small amount of local funds are also used.
Felons face job barriers.
Responding to a question, Samargia said there are felons throughout
all of HIRED's programs. The majority are in programs that focus on
low-income people. "Having a felony on your record can be a very big
barrier," she said. "We have specialized workshops for people with
felonies with specific information about selecting jobs that the law
does not disqualify felons from holding and about how to explain a
felony on their record as well as the gaps in their work history due
The resources to support people in
their job search have greatly diminished.
This reduction has been particularly
acute since the federal economic stimulus funds made available in
2009 have ended.
The federal budget sequester will
take a further toll. The
state is estimating a five percent cut, as a result of the federal
budget sequester, to the federal Workforce Investment Act programs
that provide funds for employment and training programs for adults,
youth and dislocated workers. "That's a pretty low point, when
you're already working with inadequate resources," Samargia
observed. The Minnesota Family Investment Program is exempt from the
HIRED places people in many
different industry sectors.
For fiscal year 2012, the top six sectors by percentage of job
Health care and social assistance:
Retail: 17 percent.
Accommodation and food services:
Administration and support and
waste management: 10 percent.
Manufacturing: 10 percent.
Professional, scientific and
technical: 5 percent.
HIRED has developed a culture of
analysis and its own software to track and analyze programs'
performance throughout the agency. Their
ICIS (Integrated Client Information System) provides accurate,
real-time information for use in funder reports, grant proposals,
outcome and demographic reports, strategic business planning and
identifying best practices. The software helps HIRED meet many
different reporting requirements and interfaces HIRED's database
with the state's Department of Employment and Economic Development
(DEED) Workforce One database.
year we run 70 to 80 different programs and we can report on them
uniformly," Samargia said. "We can do comparisons from year to year.
No other organization in the state can do that using Workforce One
data in conjunction with other internal data. It's been a long
process, but we're very proud of it." She noted, "We are in the
process of making ICIS available to other workforce development
agencies through licensing of the software.
HIRED has a high return on
investment. A recent
study showed that HIRED's programs for youth, displaced workers and
parents on public assistance have a return on investment of over 400
Transporting people to work.
The majority of
low-income participants enrolled in HIRED's programs work close to
where they live. That
applies to MFIP recipients, youth and low-income adults without
children. They work near where they live or in an adjacent town,
linked by bus or rail. Many have cars, but some of the cars are not
While most live in
the central cities, most jobs are elsewhere.
In response to a question, Samargia estimated that 60 percent of
HIRED's participants live in the two central cities; only 30 to 40
percent of the job placements are in the central cities.
may allow work further afield.
Participants with work experience or some training who can qualify for
higher wages or perhaps have some form of private transportation or
someone helping them with transportation can sometimes afford to work
Youth must work
closer to home.
Most youth haven't accumulated enough money to own a car. They have to
bus, use light rail, walk or bike to work. Their options are much more
limited by their experience and their transportation resources. The
average wage for youth in all of HIRED's youth programs is $8.28. What
is more common is the minimum wage of $7.25.
"Where transit options
are severely limited, for example, for youth living in Hastings or
Farmington, we find them jobs in Hastings or Farmington," Samargia
said. "For our caseload of parents on MFIP, which is about 5,000, most
live in Minneapolis, St. Paul or the inner-ring suburbs. Our caseload
is not widely distributed into very rural or far-out suburbs."
The availability of
light rail has helped jobseekers.
Many jobs have clustered at the Mall of America and the airport or
adjacent businesses. Transit to that area has opened up lots of job
opportunities. But many of those jobs have very low pay and can also
be part time, e.g., retail, food service and hospitality. While the
transportation has expanded greatly and so have the jobs, many jobs
remain at the lower-wage level.
transportation issue for parents on public assistance is coordination
Likely, the family's childcare is not close to the parent's job. There
could be two or three drop-offs before finally getting to the job.
That can mean two or three different bus trips to get everyone where
they need to go. Choices become very limited for getting to work on
time and for picking up the children on time. The case managers help
the jobseekers focus on a job that will accommodate this very complex
travel pattern of low-income parents with children. The average wage
for that group is $9.65 per hour, Samargia said.
without children have more flexible travel ability.
The average wage for that group is $12.64.
are not clustered geographically.
They're scattered all over the region. Right now, HIRED is working
with people laid off from Best Buy, Imation, Cappella University,
General Mills and Wells Fargo, among others. They have recent work
experience. The dislocated worker program, which is state and
federally funded, allows for training and retraining. Dislocated
workers usually can travel greater distances to find work. The average
wage for them is $21.82.
Closely related to
the transportation issue is the issue of affordability of housing.
Statistics show the outer-ring suburbs don't have a concentration of
people of color, largely because of the lack of affordable housing.
"For very, very low-income people, having a car vs. a roof over their
heads is often the choice," she said. "It's one or the other, not
both. We have found some working poor people living in their cars,
which they must have to get to work, but they can't also afford to pay
rent. Whenever possible, our case managers link homeless people to
Samargia noted that
along the Central Corridor light rail line, rents are going up
already. People who used to live in that neighborhood are getting
forced out because the rents are increasing. Many can no longer afford
housing right along the light rail line. "We need more affordable
housing near transportation hubs, near rail," she said. "Planning for
transportation should also include planning for affordable housing."
An interviewer pointed
out that the bulk of affordable housing is in the private sector in
North and South Minneapolis and in some of the first-tier suburbs. The
problem is how to get people living in these affordable units to jobs
Samargia responded that
HIRED does targeted job development that's close to where low-income
people can get to on a bus line or carpool. "There's no silver
bullet," she said. "As we plan more and more light rail, we really do
need to think about it. By 2025, we will need every young person and
every immigrant to Minnesota to be qualified and able to get to jobs
throughout the region to replace retiring workers."
Rent often exceeds
monthly support from MFIP for all expenses encountered by families
The fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Twin Cities is
$836 per month, according to a recent report by the Minnesota Housing
Partnership. A parent on MFIP with two children receives $764 per
month in cash and food support to cover housing and all other
HIRED has housing
specialists, who help participants, some of whom are very young
parents with children, with housing. "We help them with every
conceivable thing they're facing," Samargia said. "Many young parents
are very isolated. They don't have the resources we're accustomed to.
They don't know about the job market. They often do not own furniture
or any household items. How do you juggle all of that with also trying
to get some training? Where can these young people live and where can
they get on the bus or train to jobs? Why aren't more jobs planned in
proximity to them?"
HIRED purchases bus
passes, tokens and gas cards for its participants.
So far this year, Samargia said, HIRED has spent about $200,000 on
30-day bus passes and tokens and $138,000 on gas cards. "We'll run out
of money before the end of the fiscal year to help people with
transportation," she said. "Bus cards, tokens, gas cards are a
short-term fix. We need a longer term, more comprehensive fix."
Creative tools for
helping people get to work are mostly low-tech.
An interviewer asked about the most creative tools HIRED uses in
helping people get to work. Samargia mentioned arranging carpools;
connecting people to Project Newgate and other organizations that make
refurbished cars available; providing bus cards and gas cards, so
people can start working and then upgrade their transportation; and
working on budgeting to point out what it will take for people to
save, plan and budget for transportation.
She noted that when
HIRED runs job fairs, they prepare a huge map of where the jobs are
and their proximity to public transportation. "There's no sense in
applying for a job you can't get to," she said. "A lot of what we do
is very low-tech."
Samargia closed the meeting by stating that she gets a bit discouraged
about extensive administrative, process-oriented requirements linked
to public funding. They are so time consuming and expensive, while
long-standing problems like affordable education and training, housing
and transportation remain. But, she said, "I'm encouraged when I see
people who have been through many grave challenges and who have
nothing get up time and again and, finally, they succeed. If they can
do that, we can do that, too."
The chair thanked Ms.
Samargia for meeting with the Caucus.