By Ebonee Burrell
Kevin Welch, COO of Business Information Solutions, looks for employees with the right aptitude, desire and experience to fit in the perfect model in his growing business. Welch has found some of the strongest applicants when he hired employees through the Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment (SWAPTE), a program that prepares job-seekers with training to acquire the skills and knowledge needed for the job.
Since 2014, SWAPTE has offered on-the-job training, educational resources, leadership youth programs, scholarships and several other programs for job-seekers in nine Alabama counties.
“They can’t get a job without experience and they can’t get experience without a job, so this allows the opportunity to get both at the same time,” Welch said. “This program has been a life-changer for several people I know that have taken advantage of it because they have moved on to corporate jobs.”
The specific purpose of SWAPTE is to provide financial assistance to businesses looking for experienced employees and individuals who are unemployed or underemployed and looking for employment along with training opportunities. Programs are federally funded by the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act and are offered at no cost to those wanting to join.
SWAPTE gives opportunities of employment to a variety of job-seekers, including adult workers, dislocated workers and youth workers. At the end of each program, workers are skilled, trained and ready to enter the workforce.
Sydney Raine, president of SWAPTE, encourages job-seekers to take advantage of the opportunity, which guarantees to lead people into the workforce.
“Most people don’t know we are here, so it’s important to know that there is an organization within the community to assist with those looking for employment or training that is available at no cost to provide those services,” Raine said.
SWAPTE offers training in different areas of interest to ensure they meet the needs of different professional settings. The programs that are included are: on-the-job training, individual training scholarships, youth training and employment, and the incumbent worker training.
On-the-job training: This is one of the larger programs, and it partners with employers looking to hire. SWAPTE supplements the training time of the employer up to 75 percent of the new hire’s wages. This prepares workers to learn the necessary skills and acquire on-the-job experiences to perform in the workplace, for up to 26 weeks. Training is geared toward those who are willing to train and learn the skills needed in particular businesses. Individual training scholarships: These assist those looking to finish a degree or get the training they need to be a skilled, qualified worker to be attractive to businesses and to invest in the economy. Training scholarships offer up to two years of financial assistance, with up to $15,000 in scholarships.
Youth training and employment: This program trains young adults, ages 17 to 24, to prepare to face real-world experiences and the workforce. SWAPTE offers summer jobs, internships and job-shadowing opportunities to give career guidance by placing them in the workplace. The goal is to have more highly skilled, motivated and qualified workers to provide the best work ethic to businesses in the future.
Incumbent worker training: This offers businesses the necessary training to staff workers with an outcome for business success. SWAPTE supplements the cost of the training up to $30,000 to improve workers’ skills within businesses. Whether the business already has training opportunities or simply wants more productive, highly skilled employees to grow the company, it is directly invested in the business.
Pamela Ware, director of marketing and public relations, explained why the youth programs could have the most impact in someone’s life.
“A lot of them are not sure what they want to do with their lives. We have programs where they can get the skill sets and specialized career training that gets them ready for the workforce,” Ware said.
SWAPTE prioritizes on-the-job training and individual training contracts because of the guaranteed jobs that are offered at no cost to anyone.
SWAPTE partners with the Alabama Career Center, which has free employment services for businesses and job-seekers. They also offer training programs through SWAPTE, education through local colleges, rehabilitation services and seasonal worker transition services.
The Alabama Career Center provides free resources to job-seekers including local, state and national job searches, mock interviews, resume preparation and job-readiness classes.
Businesses also benefit from the Alabama Career Center, which offers services including full-time and part-time workforce procurement, conference rooms for interview applicants, and recruitment and screening of all job applicants.
The Alabama Career Center encourages job-seekers to utilize these resources to prepare them for the workforce.
SWAPTE is located in the Alabama Career Center at 515 Springhill Ave., and operates Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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