State, county believe rebranded job-placement efforts offer perfect match

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PITTSFIELD — Local and state job brokers have teamed up to better assist unemployed Berkshires residents find work.

Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta came to Pittsfield on Wednesday to launch the county's version of MassHire. The state initiative, rolled out this summer, seeks to unify, under a single network, the state's 29 regional career centers overseen by 16 employment boards.

Hence, BerkshireWorks Career Center is now the MassHire Berkshire Career Center, while the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board becomes the MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board.

More than a name change, MassHire is a collaboration aimed at boosting the workforce across the commonwealth.

"We have jobs, 1,500 jobs every day. The Berkshires is ready to hire," said Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer.

"When you offer more employment opportunities ... we will change lives," added North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard.

In all, Massachusetts businesses have 200,000 positions to fill, with 134,000 men and women eager to fill them, according to Acosta. She indicated that a goal of MassHire is for employers to recognize that career centers can connect them to potential new employees.

"I spent nearly 20 years as a hiring manager in the private sector. I'm embarrassed to say I never used one," Acosta said during a ceremony at the Berkshire Career Center, 160 North St.

The center offers employers a place to post a job opening, recruit and get the necessary information on the skill sets of the local workforce. For job seekers, the center helps them match up with businesses in need, career guidance, and access to training and education to improve their chances for gainful employment.

Tyer noted that, last year, the Berkshire Career Center assisted 3,000 people in finding work, with a 70 percent success rate. Bernard praised Youth Work and the center's programs geared toward teenagers and the 20-somethings getting a foothold in the local workforce.

"This summer, I had a great intern working in our office," he said.

Linking the state career centers and workforce boards under MassHire will streamline and enhance communications among the regional entities, creating better connections between employers and potential employees, according to local employment officials.

"It's going to build reliability and trust with the workforce with a brand that stretches across the state," said Melanie Gelaznik, executive director of the local career center. "We believe in the power of collaboration and streamlining services."

State Rep. John Barrett III, D-North Adams, who led the previously named BerkshireWorks Career Center from 2011 to 2014, believes that the local MassHire partnership has the programs and services to be successful.

"We have to have strong job training in place," Barrett said. "We have to talk about jobs for all people."

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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