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Career Centers and Grant Program

Issue 27

Connecting People with Jobs and Support

Finding a job you can be proud of can reverse the negative self-value many individuals who struggle with substance use may feel. When you have a job that is meaningful and provides for your basic needs, you feel a sense of accomplishment that can help you keep your sobriety.

But this isn’t easy, particularly for someone who has been out of the workforce for any length of time. This is where the Maine CareerCenters can be of tremendous help to those who are looking for employment opportunities.

The state’s 12 career centers, which operate under the umbrella of the Maine Department of Labor, provide a variety of employment and training services, at no charge, for all Maine workers and businesses.

A pilot program in the Bangor area has recently begun that is specifically for those in recovery and works directly with recovery houses to help residents find employment. The CareerCenters are now working with the Pine Tree Institute to pilot the same program in the greater Lewiston and Auburn area.

“We work directly with different recovery centers on initiatives based on the needs of that center,” said Rene Smith, a CareerCenter manager in Lewiston. “For instance, one of our offices is working with a recovery house that is offering different workshops every two weeks in a 12-week cycle.”

The workshops vary from resume writing and interview tips to onsite, in-person mock interviews. “We have some HR professionals from local businesses, as well as other organizations, participate on the mock interview panels,” said Rene.

The program also provides active listening training; soft skills training, and even helps with transportation needs in order to get clients to hiring events.

The centers help clients get the training, certification, or degree that will help them move forward. “We help them with applying to education resources, and we work with partners to assist with the funding,” Rene said. “Don’t consider yourself out if you don’t have the funding – there are many opportunities to get funding for jobs from getting a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), through a counseling degree.”

Sometimes communities become involved. At one large hiring event with community support, about half of the clients landed jobs as a result. In another example, employers collectively succeeded in getting bus routes extended to enable people with transportation barriers to secure employment.

“Whether we’re working with the county jail, the Department of Corrections probation, or in recovery houses, we have really good success, working directly with our employers, placing people,” Rene said. “About 90% of our employers are second chance employers.”

“We have something for everyone: students just entering the work world trying to figure out what they want to do, or someone who wants to switch careers, or has been out of the workforce for a while. We also work with people who have disabilities,” said Jessica Picard, Communications Manager of the Maine Department of Labor. “We help people identify their transferable skills, host hiring events, and work with employers to find out exactly what their needs are.”

If there is not a nearby center available, people can access the services online, by phone, email, or live chat on the website. CareerCenter staff also go into local community centers, such as libraries, on a regular basis in many communities to connect with people.

This article was made possible with the support of the OPTIONS program and the Maine Office of Behavioral Health.

Beth Ellis D’Ovidio
Beth Ellis D’Ovidio
Beth D’Ovidio is a public relations/communications professional with extensive experience writing compelling content for PR, marketing, and social media. She has 20 years of experience in developing and implementing successful media strategies, plans and campaigns.

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