VOICES: Building a stronger workforce in Montgomery County

In Montgomery County, we believe that an investment in people is an investment in our local economy. As the County Administrator, it is my job to ensure funding is available so our Workforce Development team can help people find work, connect businesses with candidates, and build a stronger workforce.

My first bit of advice is to visit TheJobCenter.org and check out all that we offer. There are services and programs for job seekers, youth and employers, plus all the latest news on upcoming workforce events. This is your first stop for all things job related in Montgomery County.

Through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), we established a system that helps jobseekers with education, training and supportive services to gain employment. WIOA has approved hundreds of participants, matching them with local employers via our Talent Services division. We’ve also enhanced Project Hire, our On The Job Training (OJT) program, increasing the employer’s incentive from $8,000 to $10,000. Our goal is to support employers while they train to retain employees for long-term success in their business.

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Montgomery County Workforce Development has teamed with our Environmental Services Department and partnered with Central State University and Land Grant Board to create full/part time work experience in the fields of sanitary engineering and infrastructure.

Notable training programs like our Westown Employment Opportunity Center’s partnership with Sinclair’s IT apprenticeship offer customized learning through classroom certifications and on the job training. The training opportunity starts with a 10-week CompTIA IT Certification course, followed by industry recognized testing and credentials with an opportunity to join a local IT firm for continued certifications and hands-on experience.

We offer a number of tools to assist businesses in attracting, hiring, retaining, and advancing their workforce. Employers can search resumes online or work with one of our Staffing Analysts. We also offer assistance with assessment, testing, interviews, outplacement assistance, and workforce planning and recruitment.

We have collaborated with the local AFL-CIO’s Building Futures program supporting apprentices 18 years or older via our YouthWorks Program. The careers vary from sheet metal workers, electricians, heavy equipment operators and many other trades. All participants complete the program within six to eight weeks, with certification and employment with journeyman wages which are 50% over the minimum living wage.

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For teens and young adults, we provide a couple of different programs and services to help prepare them for the necessary skills to enter the workforce. I was taught at a young age that building a good work ethic was not only critical for making a living, but also vital to developing social skills and building confidence.

Montgomery County’s YouthWorks is a year-round program offering a variety of services to help students succeed with the end-goal of going to college, entering the military or an apprenticeship, or finding full-time employment after graduation. The program offers paid work experience in high demand career fields, with the potential to gain industry recognized credentials to support employability and graduation requirements.

College2Work engages young adults 17 years and up who are attending college or on a waiting list aligning their career path with true work experience. We’ve partnered with universities, local businesses, non-profits, the health care industry and even several departments within Montgomery County. College2Work builds a pipeline of talented candidates, ensure potential employees are a good fit, and helps provide a fresh perspective with innovative ideals and creative thinking.

I am proud of the programs and services we offer our citizens, and being able to connect them with local businesses is a win/win for the entire community.

Michael Colbert is the Montgomery County Administrator.

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