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Utility Readiness for Gaining Employment for Non-Traditionals (URGENT)
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  Dawn Nolan, Director Center for Workforce Development
  Nassau Community College, NY



The Utility Readiness for Gaining Employment for Non-Traditionals (URGENT): Women Program, designed to move un/underemployed women into the workforce, was launched in Spring 2017 by the Center for Workforce Development at Nassau Community College (NCC). While entry level field positions in the utility sector offer a well-defined career pathway, historically few women have been employed in these positions.

The program, which provided 142 hours of instruction and on-site visits, prepares women for field positions in the utility sector. From inception, the program was a collaboration that included Nassau Community College, funding partner Workforce Development Institute, industry partners (National Grid, PSEG Long Island, NY American Water), and social service agencies (Hempstead Workforce Development Board, Oyster Bay Workforce Development Board, Nassau County Department of Social Services).

The graduates of the program earned two industry certifications: Energy Industry Fundamentals (created by the Center for Energy Workforce Development) and OSHA 10. Those that successfully completed the program and respective company pre-screening were guaranteed a job interview. The pilot program was funded by the Workforce Development Institute and the corporate partners.

Twenty-three women participated in the first, three-month program. Of these 21 completed the program earning both industry certifications as well as a Certificate of Completion from the College. To date, 15 students of the original 23 students or 65% have accepted full-time employment. Two-thirds of those employed accepted jobs with one of the utility sector program partners. Based on its success, URGENT: Women has been named by the Continuing Education Association of NY (CEANY) as the 2017 winner of its James C. Hall Business/Organization Collaboration award.

In December 2017, the program received a $100,000 grant from the New York State Department of Labor through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA). This grant is funding another cohort of women and a cohort of Veterans who will benefit from the program in 2018. Two new partners have also joined the program: Con Edison and the Suffolk County Department of Labor. A SUNY grant to extend the program beyond 2018 and to also add an unemployed youth cohort is awaiting final approval.

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