St. Mary’s sets new training program

St. Mary’s Women and Children’s Center will launch one of the first transitional employment programs in the state at the end of January to provide a work and training experience for low-income women with children with a goal of achieving full-time employment.
“Women @ Work Plus” will serve up to 32 women who will work in subsidized jobs and receive on-the-job training over a three to four-month period. If successful, they will be able to apply for full-time employment.

The overall cost of the program is estimated at $300,000 and St. Mary’s has received a $100,000 grant from the city of Boston’s Neighborhood Jobs Trust.

The Jones Hill-based center, which provides social and human services for more than 500 women and children each year, is working to raise the remaining funds from foundations and other public funding, said Judy Beckler, president at St. Mary’s.

The center is working with several business partners which will provide jobs including the University of Massachusetts Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Corcoran Management.

“We are working with three different industries to get women through the door and give them access to sustainable jobs,” Beckler said.
Participants will work up to 20 hour per week at a rate of $8 per hour. Two days per week will involve classroom training. The estimated cost of the program per participant is $2,500.

“When they have completed the program, they will be eligible to apply for full-time positions in those industries,” Beckler said. “There are opportunities for internal advancement.”

Beckler said the center researched industries relative to turnover and potential job opportunities and then approached businesses about partnering in the effort.

Those graduating from the program could move from $8 per hour positions to $13 or $14 per hour jobs with full benefits, she said.
The average employment rate for women on welfare is 13%. But that number soars to more than 81% for women who graduate from transitional job programs, according to data compiled by St. Mary’s.
Some 30 other states have similar programs.