By Jano Tantongco
The Huntington Opportunity Resource Center will be initiating a series of free training programs that will help the unemployed and underemployed prepare to re-enter the workforce thanks to grants totaling $100,000 from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council.
The awards allocated $50,000 to training to “dislocated” workers and another $50,000 to dislocated workers particularly in “special populations,” as part of funds from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
Specifically, the money will be used to pay professors from St. Joseph’s College to teach these courses, which include career counseling/employment preparation, basic workforce skills, hospitality, and soldering and welding. The soldering and welding course will be taught by professors from Suffolk Community College, which is being subcontracted by St. Joseph’s.
These courses are designed to teach skills that are not only specific to these fields, but to also be easily transferrable across an array of industries.
“What we’ve discovered is that there really are a lot of jobs out there,” said Joan Cergol, director of the Huntington Community Development Agency, which oversees the HORC. “They [under/unemployed] just don’t have the skills to connect them to the jobs.”
Cergol wanted to apply for the grants to inject the HORC with funding, so she partnered up with St. Joseph’s, with which the center has had a longstanding relationship.
“With hospitality and tourism cited as one of the largest areas of future economic growth, much of the training will target that area,” said Gail Lamberta, the associate dean for community development at St. Joseph’s. “We are excited to have this opportunity to partner with the Huntington community and are confident that together we will make a positive impact for the participants in this workforce training program.”
Lamberta is helping to coordinate the program with the HORC. She was also born and raised in Huntington Station.
Cergol emphasized the strategic location of the HORC, which is headquartered right by the Huntington Long Island Rail Road station. The center is within walking distance of the census tracts showing the greatest need for assistance, she said.
“Huntington Station has robust census tracts,” she said. “It’s not a bad area, but there are some pockets of poverty.”
She hopes that this program will help residents re-enter the workforce, and by elevating these “pockets,” it “lifts up the whole area.”
The HORC aims to begin classes in February or March 2016. Cergol noted that the center is in the midst of outreach efforts to those who meet the eligibility requirements of either being dislocated or, more specifically, dislocated in special populations, such as veterans, ex-offenders, those with limited English proficiency, those with disabilities and recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.
“Dislocated” includes four criteria: those who have been laid off who are unlikely to return to their previous industry or occupation; those who have been laid off due to the permanent closing of or mass layoff at a plant, facility or enterprise; those who were self-employed, but are now unemployed because of economic conditions or natural disasters; and displaced homemakers who cannot find employment who were dependent on the income of another family member, but are no longer supported by that income.
Anyone interested in registering for this program may email the center at HuntingtonORC@HuntingtonNY.gov with their name and contact information.