CLEVELAND — It can be very difficult to find a job after being released from prison.
Edward, who did not want to give his last name for privacy, knows. Less than a year ago, he was released from prison after serving five years for aggravated robbery.
“If you want a McDonald's job it would be easy. But if you're looking for a nice, decent paying job that supports your family, you gotta have some type of skill,” he explained.
And that’s exactly what he got through Towards Employment, an organization that helps the disenfranchised get hired.
They helped him get his Commercial Driver's License, and he just started paid training at his new job as a truck driver.
"Now I can provide for my family the right way and it's about $60,000 a year starting. And then I can make up to $80,000 a year,” he told us.
He was part of the agency’s PACE program, which stands for Promoting Access to Credentials and Employment.
The program prepares adults who've gone through the penal system and young adults who have a record, for careers in Construction, Manufacturing, Hospitality and IT, for free.
Joan Crosby, Senior Manager of the PACE program, says, “The main goal is to assist individuals with earning higher wages, maintaining that employment and advancing within their careers.”
They also offer students help with housing or legal issues, providing equipment needed for their job, and getting a GED.
The agency also trains those who lost their job due to COVID, or are just low income.
And they have a partnership with University Hospitals for graduates looking to start a career there, at $15 dollars an hour, with opportunities to advance.
“So it's not like we're just helping people find jobs,” Crosby explained. “We're helping people get into careers. So, these are going to be long term.”
And they're not the only place training people for good paying jobs.
The Matrix Trade Institute offers programs for those with a GED, in Auto Maintenance, Collision Repair, and Concierge Services.
Christina Logrosso, Marketing Manager, says "We are an accelerated hands on model designed by industry experts that gets students from learning to earning in 20 weeks.”
Unlike Towards Employment, there is a cost to attend the Institute; $16,000 for the Maintenance and Repair programs, $9,000 for the 5 week Service Advisor course.
But they have low interest payment plans. And Lograsso says, "We offer the potential for paid internships so that you can earn while you learn, and those can potentially lead to full time employment with the option for full tuition reimbursement."
As Crosby points out, "The jobs are out there. It's just a matter of getting the people connected to them."
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