Employing At Risk… Jobs not Jails

Dwayne Ross Human Service Training and Staff Development for Agencies that serve the community and improve the Human Condition

I sat across from this young man listening to his story. It was pretty intense as he shared the facts of his hard life at age 14. He shared how he had murdered a man in cold blood as an act of revenge to a family member and how he had to be the trigger man because other family members were too old and would get life in prison without parole… but not him, maybe he would get 25 years or even less than that, after all he was a minor… he would get out… he was right. The facts were there staring him in the face and staring right at me. I was listening to “Juan” not his real name, but a real person none the less. He was at a major Workforce development conference with Father Boyle from East L.A. a place, I was all too familiar with as a young man myself, working for Douglas Aircraft Company where we had a training program dedicated to helping, “At-risk men and women” gain employment as Aircraft Production Mechanics.

This was not an orientation, Father Boyle was sharing his “Jobs not Jails” story and the young man presenting was talking about how he had a second chance at life. By being so young he was tried as an adult, sent to prison with hardened criminals and even saw family members inside the wall. The reality for him was he chose to listen to an older gentleman who was given a life sentence. The older man educated “Juan” about how to keep his self from becoming a part of the cell. He was At-risk for many things! He had to serve until 18 yrs old at a juvenile detention center, but on his 18th birthday, he was shipped to one of California’s most notorious criminal workshops… Folsom State Prison. He managed to survive, but now he was out and had to learn how to survive the streets all over again. He was 29 years old now and very far away from the 14 year old who walked into the gates.

His eyes were honest, his breathing was even as he told the story of how Father Boyle took him in and helped him gain a skill he could put to work! I raised my hand and asked, “May I visit the site of your center Father Boyle?” his answer was a resounding yes.  I made the visit later that year and saw an amazing wall mural.

Homeboy Industries Wall Mural

The answer for Juan was in the skills he obtained, and the work he was able to accomplish. Father Boyle believed in Jobs not Jails for anyone who wanted to get out of the gangs and make a new life for him or herself. No pressure, co coaching, no begging!

If you want to change… He made it happen and so can you!

The two of them spoke of other gang members who didn’t make it.. about people like “Chubby” not his real name and how some gang members had died in Father Boyle’s arms running from others after being shot in the streets. If anyone was at risk it was these young men who were looking for a better life, a way out and hand up! Father Boyle started the program back in 1988 that grew into an Industry! Homeboy Industries…

That was then….

I met him in San Jose’ California. He talked about how they started a bakery… did you ever ask the person who made your bread if they had a felony? They started a silk screening company… have you ever asked the company who mailed you the cool “T ” you are wearing , how much time they have done? A few years ago, they even started a “Garden in the back” to make herbs that would later go into their own seasonings and salads for the Cafe’… have you ever called the salad dressing company to ask, “How many gang members, welfare recipients, disabled employees do they have?” Sounds crazy right… so who’s really at risk?

Father Boyle created Work! Yes… I hear you, “but he call it jobs…” but the reality is the people are doing their work. Things they are good at, things they have an affinity towards, things they enjoy and the money comes secondarily. They have meaningful opportunities and that is all a person in the so called “at-risk” people group are asking for. They are saying, “Give me an opportunity to change my life and the lives of my family members and won’t let you down.”

This is Now!

In order to make an impact in the lives of others we must first see them the same as anyone else, people. You can not look at the risk, but at the person as an individual regardless of his or her background. The next thing is you must look into their hearts and help them find their Work. Finally, we must then Carve what they want, Customize what they are able to do or Create what they need.

“Be the Change you want to see in the world.”     Ghandi

By the way they have Homegirl Industries too.

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Employment for At Risk Populations 2nd Helping

Dwayne Ross provides staff development training for human service agencies and community organizations that seek to improve humanity.

Dwayne Ross continues to talk about “Employment for At-Risk Populations”

JOB!  Just enough to not get fired… Just Over Broke… Just to pay the bills… Just this and that.  Wow! spelled backwards Wow!

So is there a difference in what people consider a job versus the work they came into the world with? I believe it is and i don’t plan to convince you if you believe differently but In my next few lines, this truth is my foundation. Go get a job, dad said to Mike… If you don’t graduate from College you will never be able to get a good Job, said Mary to her grandson… Look young man, it’s time you learn about the facts of life… You Need a Job!  It’s universal in most cultures, grow up get a good education go get a good job. And we bought that hook line and sinker until we ran into the millionaire who drop out of college or should I dare say the Billionaire who’s name is represented by the success of nearly every computer in the Nation, Bill Gates. Was  it a job that he tapped into or was it something deeper? Now I am not saying education is not important because well it is but have you looked at general job descriptions lately…

“Must have an accredited degree from a known College or University recognized by the Board of Regents…”

“Now hiring, entry level position as a business administration clerk, must have BA in Business Administration; Salary starts at $21,100.00”

Twenty One Thousand Dollars per Year! Now of course this may be a small exaggeration but you get my point. The competition for some types of jobs are truly built on the skills of the person but what if you have an excellent programmer for you Software company but wherever he or she interfaces with the customer, there’s a conflict in personality or in some cases the person has very limited people skills… do you hire on ability or skill?

Take a look at this definition of Job.   A group of homogeneous tasks related by similarity of functions. Stuff people do.

When performed by an employee in an exchange for pay, a job consists of dutiesresponsibilities, and tasks (performance elements) that are (1) defined and specific, and (2) can be accomplished, quantified, measured, and rated. (copied from Dictionary.com)

In my introduction video clip, here’s what I said in Dallas to a group of professionals at a “No More Crumbs from the Table Session…”

Mr. Raul Fernandez, CEO of Proxima back in the 90’s made a very unique statement about people who are educated… he said, “It makes no Difference.” Now he did not say it was important, but he was letting everyone know that in his business, he could hire educated individuals who lacked common sense, had no ability to make things happen or even know how to start a conversation or he could look for the person who had the abilities he needed, transferable skills, or natural affinity and train or educate later.  A job is essentially something you Do… Work is something internal that you bring to everything you do. In his talk, being a No limit person author and speaker Wayne Dyer said it like this, “You bring it to everything that you touch… you don’t learn to be a good father, you already are a good father in every sense of the word.”  You are a piece of Work! lol.

let’s talk about Work in the next post. If you are enjoying this blog please leave a comment. I review all comments so please no spam comments.  Thanks…                                         DR.

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Employment for At-Risk Populations

Dwayne Ross Human Service Training and Staff Development for Agencies that serve the community and improve the Human Condition. 

What is At-Risk?  At Risk for What?  Employment for at Risk Populations need not be a difficult task. So many workforce professionals try to fit people in the job instead of finding jobs that people have a natural affinity to be successful.  It’s a one case at a time approach based upon the gifts, talents and abilities as a foundation. The workshop challenged the attendees to make a positive contribution to the over all bottom line of any company while virtually eliminating the old stigmas, and attitudes associated with job development. Everyone was challenged to learn how to help those considered as at-risk, solve the problems for business owners, which will lead to employment or business development opportunities. Over 20 attendants came to share and gather a tool for their tool box with regards to working with challenging populations.


In today’s economic climate many companies are hiring people who are not only capable of meeting the job description but employers are also looking for generalist who can use their transferable skills to enhance the position they are hired into. With countless millions out of work, the market has become very competitive. In the past many companies would hire a person based upon personality match… but those days are far behind us. Employers are looking for the person who can “do it all”… Ability based.  

KEY: Companies that hire high risk people groups, like welfare recipients, ex-offenders, high school drop-outs, long term unemployed, Individuals with “diff-Abilities” even our wounded veterans face the potential risk that the individuals may be less productive or less skilled than other employees. It is hoped that by indentifying the abilities and focusing on the person not the risk, as well as tapping into governmental wage subsidies will compensate employers for this risk, (such as a tax credit) while providing at-risk populations the opportunity to develop new skills, enhance current abilities and experience necessary to secure long-term, unsubsidized employment.

Four keys to success for working with this population are;

Be Open!

Be Honest!

Be Supportive!

Be a Strategist!

Embracing the needs of your prospective employee allows you to create a team approach to employ-ability success.  It’s time to have an Encounter.  If you want to make a positive impact on the life of another who has major challenges then perhaps you may want to consider using what I call, EMPACT. 

Encounter, Motivation, Persuade, Answer, Commit and Track the results. The EMPACT process is designed to move the person from thinking about the barrier into a a strategic approach to moving through the barrier.  This approach challenges the specialist to focus on the outcome, desires and dreams instead of what they see or know about the person. If you get too focused on what the case file says about the person you may be tempted to make adjustments based upon biases, your own personal limitations and who knows what else. It’s not about You! it’s all about the individual.

The person you are working with. There are three things you may want to consider as you put this process into play… Will you Carve a place in the employment world with this person? Customize an opportunity? or Create something? It’s possible you may need to do all three until you get to the place where the person is at his or her place of employment or doing his or her Work!

 So is work the same thing as a Job?  

     Let’s talk about that in the next post!  

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Training that works… Part Two

Dwayne Ross provides Staff Development Training for Human Service & Workforce Development Agencies

Changing Lanes…
If you were driving on a country road during the late fall and the trees were in transition to rest you would see the leaves falling. They are preparing for the next season or next level of existence.They have no choice to do anything but what they were created to do… you and I are different! We can do everything but what we were created to do including waste an entire life time!

“Most people Focus on what is and Never see what Can Be” Eisenstein

We get stuck in a rut, stuck in a career, stuck in negative relationships and so on. Many people will live a life of complacency, living below the created genius that they possess. I know because for a while I had lost my God given Confidence because I focused on what happened to me instead of how I made it through. I lost my job, my business went bankrupt, I closed my office and my kids were living in a house with the person I could not get a long with at all. They moved to a new state and I was fighting to keep up until I could not do it any more… I crashed.

Sound familiar? I was hurting from my self inflicted wounds and I allowed myself to live in the mess. I was in the woe it’s me, look what God allowed to happen to me… ooohhh look what you did! I was so focused on living in my failure I did not take inventory of what I had accomplished. My programs was having great results in the lives of my students but man my life was an absolute mess! I wasn’t hungry anymore. I gave in and started living by Sight! I taught a workshop (No More Crumbs) in California when one of the attendees asked me about my life. I had a book but was I reading my book? was I living what I was talking about? Where was my Fruit?

I failed to Feel it,(pain from mis-steps) Forgive (my self for mismanaging my moments) and Get On with It! (Feel the FEAR and Go After it anyway!) I had to dig in and make some major changes. So here’s step one: What have you been successful at? The Skill and Activities that you used to get there are still available to you. It’s time out for putting the Own-ess on others it’s time to own your future right now! No blame, shame or guilt… the water or milk is spilled… Wipe it up!
Take 100% responsibility of your now. Think about what you want, create a plan and then be about getting it. People will rise up to assist you, things will begin to get in your eye sight, your pathways will come across others who can use their influence and power on your behalf.

This training will work if you work it. You can not sit around waiting for a blessing to come your way… As far as I know we have one chance at making this the best life ever. Look at what you did that worked, and maximize it. Remember: It’s time to Restore Your Destiny. Faith is the substance of things Hoped for,and it can not be seen but it must be on the canvas of your Imagination. Think, think and think some more. What you think about, comes about. You were created to create! just like the creator… in the Image and Likeness of God the creator… if you Believe.

“It’s not what you Think you are that is holding you back… It’s what you think you are Not that is holding you back!”                                                                              Dr. Michael Freeman

update: Oct 25 2011

I want you to make a choice… to decide Now is all you have, not tomorrow… not yesterday…. not next week! Now! the last 2-3 seconds is what counts. So many times we live as if we always have tomorrow. We don’t always get another tomorrow.  Steve Jobs died and left his legacy but guess what… he was just warming up! Michael Jackson left an amazing legacy but guess what he was just taking off! Life is not a fairy tale and we all don’t live happily ever after… Leave it on the field! Coach would say.

I woke up and realized how many training workshops I had accomplished and how many cities I had been in… I actually have taught a workshop or seminar or key note in every county of California except two… 56 of all 58 counties have invited me to speak.

Am I a millionaire today? No!  I lived in the moment. Some would say that’s too bad… what do you have to show for such an amazing feat? Only memories. I did it. I know people who have never seen the beach and only live 30 minutes away. I lived near the Mountains and I knew people who never saw the view from on top of the mountains. Life is either a daring adventure or a boring existence, mundane day to day struggle. What’s it for you? What do you want it to be? Picture it on the canvas of your mind. Change lanes… Then go make it happen!  Don’t wait. Your life is waiting on you.

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