LA PLATA, Md. — The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Juvenile Offenders Building Skills (JOBS) program’s latest graduation ceremony recognized the efforts of 15 students who completed training in HVAC and plumbing. This is the fourth JOBS group of students since the program’s inception in 2012. The program now has 45 graduates who have the credentials to work in the HVAC or plumbing fields.

“From the day these young men began back in May until tonight, it has been a most memorable experience,” said Dr. Dan Mosser, CSM vice president of continuing education and workforce development. “Our graduates have made a very wise investment of their time and energy pursuing a trade — either HVAC or plumbing. Employers in both of these trade areas are eager to hire young motivated employees with the right attitudes plus the skills and abilities exemplified by the certificates awarded here this evening. After some well-deserved celebration this evening, each of you needs to hit the pavement tomorrow morning while your new credentials are fresh. Don’t wait around for few days or a few weeks to look for your new career; your best opportunity to land a job is tomorrow. Your second best opportunity is the next day, and so on,” Mosser told graduates.

“This program is very important to me, personally,” said Dr. Brad Gottfried, CSM president. When developing the program, we asked what the needs of the community are and local officials told us of the need to help young people re-start their lives after a juvenile offense. This program not only taught trade skills but also taught about giving back to the community.”

Accepting certificates of completion for plumbing and HVAC were Michael Alley of Port Republic; Davon Barnes, Carlton Bell, Rossie Jones, DeAndre Smith, Jacob Thomas, and Kristie Theesen of Waldorf; Denzil Bonner of Prince Frederick; Mason Brooks Jr. of Huntingtown; Brandon Owens of Lexington Park; Cornelius Queen of Pomfret; Rowanthony Reid of Bryans Road; Brandon Stephenson of Lusby; Nathaniel Taylor of Park Hall; and Corey Walton of White Plains.

In addition to the certificates, Thomas was recognized for receiving a Maryland high school diploma, Bell was awarded for Best Attendance, Bonner was awarded for Most Improved-HVAC, and Taylor was awarded for Most Improved-Plumbing.

“I remembered my first day here; it felt a little bit like my [high school] freshman year, I hardly knew anyone. We started out with lots of students but ended up with those you see here,” said Alley, providing the student reflection. “Several of my classmates received their NCCR full certification, GED and various positions with local HVAC and plumbing companies. Many thanks to the staff.”

The ceremony included a keynote address by Dr. Jennifer Troke, division chief at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Employment & Training Administration’s Office of Workforce Investment (OWI), Division of Youth Services. In her work, Troke focuses on youth development programs including the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) youth formula program, the YouthBuild program, and a series of grants, called the Reintegration of Ex-Offender or REXO grants, directed at serving court-involved youth and adult ex-offenders.

Troke said that watching the JOBS program bloom has been exciting to watch.

“Thanks to [community partners] for providing supportive services that have helped many of these graduates get jobs and keep jobs. I want to thank your employer partners who are the heart of our entire grants programs because they provide the jobs at the end of the skills training process. What could be more exciting than a job? Nothing,” said Troke.

The JOBS program serves young adult ex-offenders with job training, service learning, and job placement services while building self-esteem, reinforcing positive workplace behaviors, and building a strong work ethic. Community service is built into the program, with students spending two Fridays a month assisting local nonprofits with HVAC, plumbing, and other needs.

The program has a high staff-to-student ratio of 5:1, which includes CSM JOBS Project Director Dawn Hudson, two trades instructors, a case manager, and a jobs developer. JOBS program participants complete 500 hours of classroom and lab training in either plumbing or HVAC and receive three months of follow-up employment services for a total commitment of nine months in the program. Career readiness and soft skills training are woven into classroom instruction as well as community service. Employability training in resume writing, interviewing, professionalism, and workplace communication caps off the instruction.

“The credentials that students receive are HVAC-Level 1 and Plumbing-Level 1 which are the equivalent of one-year apprenticeship instruction that they will have under their belts when they complete our program,” Mosser said, adding that this credential, through the National Center for Construction Education and Research, is accredited and recognized industry-wide throughout the country.

By the end of the program, students earn the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour safety certification and an American Red Cross CPR and first aid certification.

Funding for the program, which is a collaboration among the college and 40 strategic partners from Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s counties, is provided through a $1.5-million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

For more information on the JOBS Program, click here.

Publication date: 12/22/2014

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