The Journal Gazette
Friday, December 03, 2021 1:00 am

Employment supports aid in hiring, retention

Angie Moellering

Sustainable employment is an essential aspect of life. Working provides rhythm, encourages a sense of purpose, and allows us to provide for our families' basic needs and beyond.

Yet, there is a challenge as employers in nearly every sector seek workers. Employers are increasing their investment in wages and benefits to engage new workers and fill essential positions.

Those counted in the unemployment numbers alone will not meet today's need. The unemployment rate in the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Area has fallen below 3%.

So it is essential we increase the workplace skills and competencies of the underemployed or long-term unemployed and engage them in the workforce. Partnering with human service organizations increases the impact of employer investment.

Human service organizations are uniquely situated to make a critical contribution in the development of qualified employment candidates. We collectively serve a significant number of people who desire full-time, sustainable employment and yet require assistance to thrive in the workforce.

For these individuals, permanent employment first requires a concentration of investment in their well-being.

Human service organizations are often the conduit for individuals seeking to overcome personal and employment barriers. Our focus goes beyond simply helping someone find a job. Services are directed to assist individuals and families build a stable life, personally and professionally. This contributes to being a successful long-term employee.

In today's employment environment, employers and human service organizations must work in tandem to engage and build this much-needed workforce.

Brightpoint, for example, concentrates on education completion and career exploration with high school students. Of this program's 494 high schoolers, 94% graduate, 74% are placed in jobs and 40% attend college.

SCAN offers support and mentorship to youth working to overcome challenges and earn their High School Equivalency diploma through the Be Someone Now Program. These 16- to 24-year-olds also receive professional development training to increase wage and employment outcomes.

The Literacy Alliance assists adults seeking to increase their employability by earning the diploma, improving English-language skills, and increasing career options through a customer service certification.

As a result, 42 individuals obtained customer service certification since 2020, and 58 have obtained their diplomas.

My own organization, Lutheran Social Services of Indiana, offers LSSI Works – a workforce development program assisting individuals in building personal and professional skills.

Support continues for the first year of employment, which results in more than 86% of LSSI Works' participants remaining in the same job for a year or more.

Today, more than ever, we need nonprofits such as Brightpoint, SCAN, The Literacy Alliance and Lutheran Social Services of Indiana to offer these essential services to those needing the encouragement and support necessary to sustain employment.

Human service organizations maximize services and resources to increase an individual's ability to sustain employment, which benefits the family, the employer and, ultimately, our community.

Consider financially supporting human service nonprofits, partnering with us in workforce development efforts, and together building a much-needed workforce and community in which we all thrive.

Angie Moellering is president/CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Indiana and a member of Alliance for Human Services.

A few more facts?• 77% of Indiana Adult Education participants increase their wages one year after exiting the program.??• Workers 25 and older, without a high school diploma, have the highest unemployment rate.??• Labor underutilization numbers from teh Department of Labor estimate Indiana has 4% to 7% of its potential workers who are considered discouraged, not in the labor force, who want and are available for work and had looked for a job in the preceding 12 months.

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