Sometimes a second chance is all you need to succeed; Phil is living proof of this. After dropping out of high school at age 17, the pressure of working full-time to help support his family was overwhelming and he was not making the wage he needed to.
“I wish I could say that Phil’s story is unique but it’s not, “ says Angie Jones, Director of Community Impact at United Way of Dane County. “Our job market has drastically changed in the last 30 years, a majority of jobs, even low-wage jobs, are now requiring some type of secondary education. A high school diploma is no longer an option for long-term career stability. It’s a requirement.”
U.S. Census data tells us 9.4% or 31,000 adults in Dane County over the age of 17 do not have a high school diploma.
Jones continues, “Our workforce partners tell us that we need a different approach to how we help people become prepared for employment. The HIRE Education Employment model is really targeted at addressing this need.”
Recently, United Way has begun creation of the HIRE Education Employment model that will help non-high school graduates navigate their way through the various systems needed to get the job they desire. This model will target individuals ages 17+ who do not have a high school diploma seeking to find employment.
Individuals who enter the HIRE Ed initiative will start their journey by meeting with a mentor who will assess where on the ladder they should start. For example,
if an individual hasn’t received their high school diploma they will get connected with GED prep classes and complete their degree. After they have attained their GED they will receive training on soft skills needed to succeed in an employment environment (how to communicate with your coworkers, dress for work, interview, put together a resume, etc…).
Jones says United Way and their partners have high hopes for how this will connect individuals to attaining long term success.
Phil agrees, “Navigating the system can be difficult. This type of model would make it so much easier for people.”
After getting connected with education, training, and employment, Phil was able to attain his GED and even owned his own business for six years. Now, he’s back in school getting an additional degree, and he’s passing the lessons he learned on to his two sons. “I have to lead by example,” says Phil, “So even though I hit a bump in the road, I still made it and so can anyone else.”