WNC launches program to help unemployed, underemployed

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WNC Workforce Development Liaison Michael Boreham

Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

Unemployed and underemployed Nevadans have an opportunity to change their lives through a new program at Western Nevada College.

WNC is launching the Realizing Opportunities for the American Dream to Succeed (ROADS) Project to help retrain Nevadans for a new career and enable them to become key contributors to the state’s economy.

The project is a collaboration between WNC and Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) to assist unemployed and underemployed Nevadans by providing them with educational training and skills needed for positions that are in high-demand occupations and industries.

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WNC plans to help the underemployed and unemployed residents with training in manufacturing, health care, technology and building trades so they become employed in stable jobs with career opportunities and benefits. The average training time is 6 to 8 weeks.

“General awareness is one of the biggest pieces of this program. People don’t know that there are all these things that we can do to help them get there,” said WNC Workforce Development Liaison Michael Boreham, who is coordinating the ROADS Project. “Common thought is that if you are going to go back to school to get these certifications, you are going to have to find the time, and you are going to have to find a way to pay for that time, the classes and all of the other necessities. Making that change really scares a lot of people off, but with the ROADS program we can help keep them afloat by being able to pay for certain costs.”

The vision of the ROADS Project is to have a robust and growing segment of Northern Nevada’s residents who possess skills and qualifications that meet the rapidly changing needs of Northern Nevada’s growing employer base and who are ensuring their family’s current and future financial security.

“My personal goals are that I really want to see these people succeed, not just get them into the program but see them complete the program and continue to succeed after it,” said Boreham, a former retail banking officer in New York and a former project manager, project engineer, estimator and preconstruction manager for Q&D Construction in Sparks. “I want this to be a successful program so it returns through another grant and creates a successful framework so we can continue to do this and other schools can benefit from it as well.”

This vision supports ROADS’s mission to develop and launch a pilot program with Northern Nevada in a documented, metrics-driven fashion, allowing expansion through the State of Nevada and eventually to create a model for duplication throughout the United States.

This will help the state meet the need of a larger and more consistent supply of skilled workers with the proper life, soft and technical skills necessary to earn portable, industry-based and nationally recognized certifications.

“In partnership with the ROADS program, DETR assists clients in Northern Nevada to not only find a job, but a career with a livable wage and the potential for advancement,” said DETR Public Information Officer Rosa Mendez. “The collaboration between the Carson City JobConnect office and JOIN assists ROADS participants with resumé development assistance, interviewing skills and job placement assistance. JobConnect can also offer assistance with certification or license fees, and the costs for uniforms or tools to perform the job. DETR is proud to offer Nevada’s workers the opportunity for upward mobility to achieve independence and success through this pilot program.”

ROADS’s mission isn’t to only help the unemployed. The state needs a significant group of residents to move from underemployed to fully employed. This includes 20 percent of Nevada’s population, or 650,000 people — a swelling group that hasn’t pursued postsecondary education, including obtaining accredited workforce certifications, after graduating from high school.

“With ROADS we have the ability to help them over that financial barrier,” Boreham said. “If they are working one or two jobs, we can facilitate that gap financially if they want to take off from work for one or two classes.”

To thoroughly assist participants enrolled in the ROADS Project, the program will include recruitment, assessment, training enrollments, soft skills training, job placement, job retention and advancement and mentorship.

“One of the biggest messages about the program is that it’s not a cookie cutter program,” Boreham said. “You don’t have to fit into a box to have the ROADS program help you. It’s situational. We can custom fit it to you. Not everybody’s situation is the same and this is going to help all of the different issues and obstacles that people are facing. It’s the most flexible support program I’ve ever seen.”

For more information about ROADS, phone Boreham at 775-470-9242 or email him at michael.boreham@wnc.edu.

Individuals interested in the program can apply at wnc.edu/roads/.

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