MADISON (WKOW)-- In just a few short days, our attention will shift from the holiday season to welcoming a new year in 2016. Many will begin to work on their New Year's resolution. Over at the Urban League of Greater Madison, the staff already has theirs ready to go.
"Our goal is to get 1,500 placements by 2020 and we're on track to do that," President and CEO Ruben Anthony says.
So far this year, the staff says 206 people were placed into brand new jobs. That's a 51% increase over last year. They're hoping to place at least 250 additional people in 2016 and hopefully reach a grand total of more than 1,500 over the next five years.
"We believe that if we can put a parent to work, the family is going to be better off," Anthony says. "That's really going to help the family with education. That's going to also help with a lot of other issues in this community."
Anthony says he's happy to see such a high job placement rate this past year, but in his words, "we can't take a victory lap just yet." He says there's still a ways to go before the issues of racial disparity in employment are fixed in the Madison area.
"We're working with employer partners like Exact Sciences, UW Health, American Family and others who want to bring more diversity to their work force and are trying to bring in more qualified people to work there," Anthony says.
Senior Vice President Edward Lee attributes a lot of this success to the recent addition of seven new training academies. These new opportunities feature six to fourteen weeks of hands on training that prepare students for careers in various professions.
"In the areas of health care administration, construction trades, information technology, help desk, a lot of different careers are available out there," Lee says.
They're industries that need more people to fill their openings, but often have a tough time finding qualified candidates. That's where workers like Melissa Herriges come in. She's a Higher Education Specialist at the Urban League of Greater Madison. She works hands on with job seekers and begins each session with a simple conversation.
"We want to know more about their interests and skills," Herriges says. "We work with them to develop their skills and see if they need any additional training."
The first training academy of 2016 will be held in early February. Workers say the training will prepare people for jobs in the construction industry. Several spots are still available. The staff is organizing training sessions for people who are interested in working in health care, customer service and sales.