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Gray Launches New Jobs Initiative Focus is on Putting Jobless into DOES System

James Wright | , WI Staff Writer | 12/15/2011, 12:43 p.m.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) Director Lisa Mallory announced Monday the second phase of the mayor's One City-One Hire initiative during a news conference at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Northwest. While the first phase dealt with getting D.C. area employers to hire city residents, the second phase will focus on the needs of unemployed job seekers, particularly those not in the DOES system and thus, not likely to get training and other services from the agency.

"One City-One Hire has developed partnerships with nearly 300 businesses and helped over 1,335 District residents find jobs in the last 90 days," Gray, 69, said. "While our efforts have been successful, thus far, this is just the beginning. To reach the thousands of unemployed residents who still need assistance and additional training in this tough economy, DOES will launch an outreach campaign unlike anything we've seen before in the District."

The District's unemployment rate is 11 percent, according to statistics compiled by DOES. It is way above the national rate, which stands at 8.6 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics. Wards 7 and 8, located east of the Anacostia River, have unemployment rates of 18 and 26.8 percent, respectively. Those wards are predominantly black and have large numbers of low-income residents.

In contrast, Ward 3, located in Northwest and predominantly white, has an unemployment rate of only two percent. Mallory said the reach for the initiative will be throughout the District.

"This second phase of the One City-One Hire campaign has been developed to reach all segments of the population, in all areas of the city and particularly those who have never interacted with DOES, those who are unaware of the many services the agency has to offer and those hard-to-serve populations who are facing the most barriers to employment," Mallory said.

"We are extremely pleased that so many employers are accepting Mayor Gray's challenge to help address the District's unemployment crisis. Now we must turn our attention to the needs of the unemployed job seekers to ensure they are trained and work-ready."

Residents will be able to go to recreation centers, libraries and other community facilities to sign up for DOES services. The first registration site was the Deanwood Recreation Center in Northeast on Dec. 14, followed by the MLK Library on Dec. 15. The next registration site will be the Hillcrest Recreation Center in Southeast on Jan. 4, 2012 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Mallory said residents will go to the registration site to sign up through the computer system. She noted those who are not computer literate will be coached through the process.

Mallory said that once residents are in the system, they will learn about various DOES training programs to help them prepare for the job search and the workplace. She said there will be a job-matching service that will link residents who are qualified for jobs with employers who are looking for those skills.

"We will let employers know about our residents who have the skills to do the jobs through this system," she said.

There will be television and radio spots, newspaper advertisements and the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter and text messaging) to inform residents of the services of One City-One Hire. During the press conference, television spots featuring Mallory speaking in English and Spanish were aired.

"We are also going to do spots in Chinese and Korean," Mallory said.

Securitas Security Services USA Inc. is one of the 300 employers who signed up for the initial stage of One City-One Hire and is ready to help with the second phase, said Carl Rowan Jr., area vice president of the company.

"One City-One Hire has been a fantastic program and I have been around a long time in the city," Rowan, 59, and the son of the late famed journalist Carl Rowan, said. "I've seen a lot of slogans and this is the single best initiative from the District government. The DOES staff has been great bringing us qualified applicants and we are very impressed with the program."