Job Training Targets Ex-Offenders
UMOS trains young adults who were homeless or have a criminal record and connects them to employers.
Kavon Jones, an avid spoken-word poetry performer, wants to put his talents to good use.
“I would love to teach people (poetry) and encourage them to write down their experiences,” said Jones, who has a high school diploma. “Kind of like poetic therapy.”
This goal led him to attend a recent information session for the Employment and Training Services Program for youth, which is offered by UMOS and paid for by a grant through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The program provides an opportunity for low-income young adults, ages 17-21, to obtain work experience that will eventually land them a job.
The program targets ex-offenders and people who are homeless or in foster care. U.S. citizens or qualified immigrants who aren’t in school during their period of training are eligible.
During the information session, Jones spoke with Jose Lovo, a youth case manager at WIA, who set out the guidelines of the training program and shaped a training plan that suits Jones’ goal of becoming a teacher.
“(The program) depends on the individual,” Lovo said. “I have youth who come and say, ‘I need a job because my girlfriend is pregnant and she’s due in May,’ which affects whether the program is hurried and what material it will include.”
Lovo has connected trainees with 50 companies, including T.J. Maxx, WE Energies and Advance America. The training program often intersects with UMOS’s High School Equivalency Program, which provides General Education Development (GED) classes, since some trainees don’t have a high school diploma.
Jones’ training plan will place him in a UMOS GED class to work as a teacher assistant. Lovo said he wants Jones to start as soon as possible.
“The main (factor) is each trainee’s motivation,” Lovo said, determined by whether or not the trainee is willing to commit to the program for at least a year.
Nancy Lamothe, a trainee in the Employment and Training Services Program, said UMOS’s program is important in a competitive job market where previous work experience is critical.
Unable to find a job she enjoyed, Lamothe recently started training at UMOS to become a medical interpreter.
“I used to work in a factory as a temp and that was one of the worst experiences I’ve had, since they were very disrespectful to me,” Lamothe said. “That made me want to do something better with my life, something that can help others.”
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.