Community Partnerships in Hotel Employment and The Customer Service Skills Center Programs to Receive Urban Enterprise Zone Funding
November 7, 2011, Jersey City, NJ — Two successful programs that train and place Jersey City residents in service-industry jobs are being funded to continue their work for the next year. As a result of the support of Mayor Healy and his administration, and the vote of the Jersey City Municipal Council last week, Community Partnerships in Hotel Employment and The Customer Service Skills Center will again be recipients of funding from the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation’s Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) Program.
“These are two programs that not only provide the men and women of Jersey City with training, counseling, and skills, but they also place our residents in good-paying jobs and help them retain those jobs,” said Mayor Healy. “In turn, these programs are vital to providing the hospitality and customer-service industries here in Jersey City with the qualified workforce they need to succeed.”
Funding appropriated for these programs came from prior collections made to the Jersey City UEZ’s program. Under the UEZ program, shoppers who purchase goods from UEZ-certified retailers pay just 3.5% sales tax — half the normal tax — on most goods. A percentage of those sales-tax collections was returned to the UEZ program for reinvestment in programs and projects to strengthen the development of jobs and the economy.
Jersey City Economic Development Corporation Chief Executive Officer Steve Lipski said the programs exemplify the progress and good that can be made when the public and private sectors work together.
“Both of these programs have histories of success, and both are the partnerships between the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation, our Urban Enterprise Zone Program, and a number of organizations throughout the area,” Mr. Lipski said. He noted that both are sectoral-employment initiatives that succeed by learning the needs of specific labor markets and providing individuals with training that lead to good jobs with opportunities for advancement.
JCEDC UEZ Director Roberta Farber said Community Partnerships in Hotel Employment (CPHE) is an initiative of WomenRising, Inc. in partnership with Hudson County Community College Center for Business & Industry and the JCEDC UEZ Program. The program has working relationships with forty area hotels, as well as Cruise Link, and several other restaurants, and transportation and housekeeping companies. Candidates for the program are recruited and screened by Jersey City Employment & Training.
The CPHE program’s course consists of: industry-specific, job-readiness training; computer skills training; job placement; an internship; pre- and post-employment job coaching; access to additional educational opportunities at Hudson County Community College; and other support and life-skills services. The CPHE curriculum incorporates nationally recognized standards from the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the National Restaurant Association. CPHE participants who successfully complete the training may earn up to ten college credits.
From 2000 to 2010, 231 individuals successfully completed the CPHE training. The cumulative graduation rate for the past three cycles was 90% with an 86% job placement rate.
The newly approved UEZ funding for CPHE will provide training and services for another 80 individuals between now and November 2012.
The Customer Service Skills Center (CSSC) services employers and potential employees by recruiting, assessing, training and placing individuals in long-term, career-focused jobs in high-growth sales, industries (customer service, retail, banking and finance, administrative, education, health, transportation, and security). CSSC is supported by partnerships between Jersey City Episcopal Community Development Corporation, Hudson County Community College Center for Business & Industry, the JCEDC UEZ, National Retail Federation Foundation, Jersey City Employment & Training, Hudson County Workforce Investment Board, Hudson County Economic Development Corporation, and the New Jersey Department of Workforce & Labor Development.
The CSSC training is based upon the National Customer Service & Sales and Pilot Retail Standards. At the end of their training, participants are prepared to take a national certification exam. The program also supplies: money for transportation to-and-from classes and interviews to those students who need it; resume writing assistance; mentoring; and “interview” outfits from the Jersey City Dress for Success program.
Since its inception in 2004, CSSC has provided training to more than 850 individuals; 84% of that number completed the entire training, 58% successfully achieved the NRF certification, and 65% earned a starting wage of $10-$12 an hour.
While CSSC is intended to serve unemployed and underemployed individuals with at least an eighth-grade education, this past year’s participants included four individuals with master’s degrees, and eleven with bachelor’s degrees — which speaks to the current economic climate. The average starting wage was $11.32, but several graduates were placed in jobs with starting wages of $18 or more, and two were hired at annual salaries of $40,000 or more.
The newly approved JCEDC UEZ funding for CSSC will provide five classes for several dozen more individuals between now and November 2012.