LARGO — The Workforce Services Division became incorporated as Employ Prince George’s, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with business owners and job seekers to increase employment in Prince George’s County on July 1.
“We aim to be the bridge between job seekers and businesses,” said President and CEO Walter Simmons. “Our focus is on populations who struggle for economic success.”
The program was formerly known as the Workforce Services Division which has been around for about 10 years under the Economic Development Corporation. During that time they have served over 20,000 job seekers and 4,000 employers each year.
After being approved in the county budget for the upcoming year, Employ Prince George’s became incorporated as an independent nonprofit starting at the beginning of fiscal year 2019. The organization receives its funding from the federal, state and local budget. It will continue to train thousands of job seekers and employers in the region targeting youth demographics starting at age 13 and adults 18 and up.
“Employ Prince George’s offers a number of services for job seekers and businesses with the goal of improving employment outcome,” said Simmons.
Employ Prince George’s contains five key programs for job seekers: construction, IT, hospitality, healthcare and veteran services.
In addition, it contains distinct programs in order to target specific populations that struggle economically. These include the Pathways to Success program which focuses on returning citizens and those involved in the criminal justice system. Disconnected Youth Services assist those those who have dropped out of high school. Other programs assist youth that are still in school and are struggling to finish, those who are transitioning service members and veterans.
Employ Prince George’s works with all kinds of employers throughout the county from large businesses to smaller employers such as the MGM, Pepco, Olive Garden, The Commercial Management Group, Inc. and Dave and Busters.
Employers have worked with the organizations in different capacities, such as the Fort Washington Medical Center who just began their partnership. They reached out to the organization only a few weeks ago as a result of their need for nurses.
Following their request, Simmons came by to meet with them to get an idea of what they are looking for and how Employ Prince George’s can help. They will soon have an information session for the public and will go forward to look for qualified candidates to work at the medical center.
In other cases, companies have been partnered with the Workforce Services Division for years such as the K. Neil Truck and Bus Center, a commercial truck and bus dealership headquartered in Hyattsville, which has been involved with the division for about six to seven years.
“The Workforce Services Division vets employees for us and we bring them in for an interview once we decide they are a good person to work for our team,” said Service Director Marsha Abbot. “After that they go through Workforce Services for the necessary paperwork and then they get started.”
Workforce Services would then provide the prospective employee with the necessary training and screening for the position and then get them started at the business, Abbot said.
Civility Management Solutions worked with the Workforce Services Division for a short period of time in 2016 through a grant they were given that paid 90 percent of the salary for a new employee.
“It was really nice, our point of contact came in and saw the property and was very hands on,” said Operations Manager DeAnna Boyd. “The only reason we didn’t hire more employees was because we came on at the end of that program.”
Although the Employ Prince George’s program is fairly new, through the Workforce Services Division the group has invested a lot of money into the training job seekers and connecting with businesses, according to Simmons. Last year, they invested $125,000 into incentives for businesses to hire residents. To this day they have spent millions per year on training, uniforms, tuition, books and other items that go toward getting people certified for the jobs they find. They train hundreds of job seekers per year.
“Going forward, the next steps for Employ Prince George’s will be to connect with more businesses and touch more job seekers,” Simmons said.
On July 6, the organization held an info session containing 30 local businesses looking to hire young people trying summer jobs and will have similar sessions in the near future. They would like to continue their services and recruit more businesses and job seekers through radio campaigns, community information sessions and other resources. They are open to speaking to any business with a need for employees and any person in need of assistance looking for work.