I want to express my sincerest thanks to the community for all the support the Milwaukee Area Workforce Board (MAWIB) has received during this challenging year. Given the obstacles, it is easy to feel like nothing has changed or we have not made a difference in our city.
When we see the statistics demonstrating achievement and employment gaps, it’s easy to get down. Statistics that include:
- 1 job for every 25 job seekers in the inner city
- 48,000 people out of work and collecting unemployment
- Food Shares at 191,000 recipients
- Racial disparities in education continue with the average black student’s math score 41 points lower than that of the average white student
While these statistics bear a stark reality they don’t tell the whole story. We need to recognize that we can succeed even in the worst of times and celebrate the success stories such as the ones below:
After many unsuccessful attempts to find gainful employment, Latonya Johnson was directed to the MAWIB. Latonya had some challenges in her background that created a barrier between her and a permanent job. The MAWIB connected Latonya with an employment specialist that helped her determine her interests and select a career path. This guidance led her to CareerWorks at Bayshore Mall, where she completed the Call Center Specialist Job Training Program. She is now employed by WE Energies.
Derrick Richardson, a young man who prior to coming to the MAWIB had been in and out of jail, dropped out of school at the age of 15 and was constantly in trouble with the police. A turning point came this year when a friend introduced Derrick to the Milwaukee Build program at Northcott Neighborhood House. While in the program Derrick developed carpentry skills and obtained several industry recognized certifications. Since beginning the program, Derrick has stayed on the right side of the law and is confident about the future ahead of him. When asked what the future holds for him he stated, “I am now a crew leader in the weatherization program and one day I want to be the crew chief supervisor so that I can help to change the lives of other youth that don’t believe there’s a way out, like I once did.”
Finally, let’s not forget Precise Underground Marking, a local business who was able to expand its workforce by collaborating with the MAWIB. Working with the MAWIB allowed Precise to provide on-the-job training to its new workers and hire people from right here in the Milwaukee community. By getting involved with the community, Precision has now been able to secure more contracts.
In 2010, I look forward to working with the Mayor, businesses and community leaders to ensure that those who want to work get jobs and that there are many more success stories to come.