Building Community Through Job Development Training
CLINIC affiliate Building One Community’s Skills Development Program has over the past two years helped bridged the gap between immigrants and local businesses in Stamford, Connecticut.
Before launching the program, the organization wanted to make sure it was meeting actual community needs. Anka Badurina, B1C’s skills development senior director, interviewed more than 100 clients and surveyed around 50 members of the business community. The data showed that the key areas for skills training were in culinary and home healthcare services.
B1C’s program assists foreign-born residents with career training in these two fields. Both tracks offer vocational ESL classes, while also connecting participants to apprenticeships and potential employers.
Offered since 2015, the culinary program was the first career track available. Enrolled students start with ESL classes that focus on vocabulary needed within kitchens and catering businesses. Other courses teach skills such as goal setting, professional communication and computer literacy. Real life application is incorporated, particularly teaching students how to operate common computer programs that most restaurants use. To date, 195 participants have gone through the program, 94 of whom earned certificates. Building One Community hopes to increase access to apprenticeships and stipend-supported internships for their students.
The second career track, home health aide training, opened in 2016 and is also making promising strides. It focuses on “soft” skills so participants are employable in the health care industry. More specialized classes are offered through the program’s partnership with Norwalk Community College. This track is also offered in English and Spanish to allow a diverse range of immigrants a way into this career path. When classes are taught in English, an ESL teacher is available to provide second language learning support. The pilot program graduated 19 students in January 2017 and a second cohort recently started.
Ever-growing, the Skills Development Program last winter launched the pilot for their newest track, directed at potential construction and landscaping workers. This program has been met with the same positive response from the community, as it was carefully designed to reflect both student and employer needs.
The skills program’s success stems from the powerful combination of strong partnerships and a commitment to providing a successful working relationship for both clients and employers. This responsiveness and openness has allowed the program to obtain a variety of grants and private donations. The success of B1C’s comprehensive approach towards immigrant integration has been recognized by many community leaders, including U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, Sen. Chris Murphy, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, (all Connecticut Democrats) and Stamford Mayor David Martin. Stamford Police Chief Jonathan Fontneau and other members of the Stamford Police Department support this program as well.
CLINIC applauds the work of Dr. Badurina and Building One Community for creating programs that help immigrants adapt effectively in professional settings and challenge stereotypes, while promoting acceptance and participation.