Hiring Well, Doing Good Kickoff Event
Beacon hosted our “Hiring Well, Doing Good” kickoff breakfast on June 14th. Nearly 70 business, community, and nonprofit leaders came together to discuss ways to help the chronically under- and unemployed find work. While Tennessee has historically low unemployment rates, nearly 39% of working age adults remain out of the workforce entirely. As we’ve discussed previously, our goal is to eliminate the barriers that make it hard for these Tennesseans to get and keep good jobs.
During the panel discussion at our kickoff, we heard from business leaders like Lawrence Everett of Lee Company and John Cerasuolo of ADS Security, who discussed how their companies are working to hire those who struggle to find gainful employment, identified barriers they face in the hiring process, and offered practical solutions to remove those barriers. Lawrence discussed how Lee Company focuses on drive and will to learn rather than experience, which helps open up opportunities for those that might otherwise struggle to get their foot in the door. John explained how state occupational licensing laws are so arduous that the company has to spend significant resources going to bat for employees when they try to obtain a license.
Anthony Charles serves as the Aftercare/Re-entry Manager at Men of Valor, a nonprofit that helps men leaving prison land on their feet. Anthony provided his perspective not only as a nonprofit leader, but also as a past graduate of the program. He shared his organization’s success in preparing former inmates to re-enter society as men of integrity—“becoming givers to the community rather than takers.” At a time when nearly half those leaving a Tennessee prison will return within three years, men who complete Men of Valor’s six-month program inside the prison and 12-month program after they are released have recidivism rates below 15%.
Another ex-offender, Lindsay Holloway, discussed the challenges facing those with criminal records, including finding housing and having to start at the bottom rung of the ladder, even when they may be more qualified for a better job. Lindsay has shared her personal story with Beacon previously in the video below.
Mark Lenz, president of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Nashville, inspired us by highlighting the incredible availability of high paying jobs and demand for students with practical technical skills. Eighty-two percent of their students were employed in their field of study, and all with no student loan debt at graduation!
We are also grateful to Bradley Jackson and the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce for co-hosting “Hiring Well, Doing Good,” as well as all of our sponsors who made our kickoff breakfast such a huge success. Now that we have held a successful launch, we will build out our steering committee. This committee will be tasked with identifying barriers that still stand in the way of those seeking good jobs. It will be made up of employers, nonprofit leaders, and those who themselves have faced challenges finding gainful employment. The steering committee will also increase partnerships between human services organizations and the private sector to promote solutions for productive work and self-reliance. Having built a strong and diverse base of support, we’re extremely excited to increase the number of individuals who are able to find and keep stable, productive work.