What issue is Racine Vocational Ministry’s RVM Jobs Program designed to address?
Racine Vocational Ministry was founded to assist people who struggled with attaining and maintaining jobs. Racine has historically had the highest unemployment in the state. We have focused on those who are chronically poor, homeless, underemployed and those who are trying to leave a life of criminality. Since 2002, we have helped close to 5,000 individuals increase their education, job skills and life skills, making it more likely people will maintain jobs, be positioned for promotions and live a more stable family life.
What does Racine Vocational Ministry’s RVM Jobs Program do (overarchingly and on a daily basis)?
Our main focus is assisting with life and job skills that allow people to move out of poverty. This is done through group trainings under the banner of “Solutions For Success” and one-on-one appointments.
What is the impact of Racine Vocational Ministry’s RVM Jobs Program?
In 2021, Racine Vocational Ministry placed 211 people in jobs, school, programs and volunteer opportunities. Twenty-nine (or 14 percent) Racine Vocational Ministry participants were promoted and seven (or 3 percent) who were disabled were assisted in acquiring Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Six months into 2022 we have placed 120 participants.
One account of Racine Vocational Ministry's RVM Jobs Program's impact details the incredible effect it made on one participant's life:
Sharon Arscott came to Racine Vocational Ministry in October 2019. She was intelligent and engaging. Due to some family and personal struggles, she lacked the confidence to market her skills. After her first few meetings with a Racine Vocational Ministry case manager, Sharon’s confidence and hopefulness increased. In her free time, she sharpened her office skills. Within a few weeks, Sharon landed a part-time job. She looked forward to growing into her job until a shutdown for COVID was instituted at her company. Sharon remained resilient and focused on keeping her family financially stable. She was able to find a new position at a $4 an hour pay increase. After completing her probationary period, Sharon received an additional increase of $3 an hour and was made full-time with benefits. In October of 2021, Sharon and her daughter moved into a larger home and had saved enough money to bring her mother from Jamaica to the U.S. for a long-awaited visit. She treasured the time she was able to share with her mom and daughter. Sharon is currently investigating home ownership, developing her relationship with her teenage daughter and her community of faith. Brick by brick, she is building a life that supports her family, builds and maintains important relationships and allows her to become a full participant in the economy.
Sharon Arscott at her new job at Styberg Engineering.
What does the future look like for Racine Vocational Ministry’s RVM Jobs Program?
The immediate future is a huge opportunity for people who have been stuck on the sidelines of the economy in Racine. For the first time in decades, jobs are plentiful and wages are high, due to supply and demand rising quickly. Unfortunately, people who have low job skills and underdeveloped life skills will continue to get stuck in the revolving door of low pay and short-term positions.
In the next 10 years, job openings will continue to be robust due to population decline in U.S. births. Racine Vocational Ministry will have to increase its outreach to those who are not building wealth due to chronic job losses. Outreach and education will be our focus in the future.
Jim Schatzman is the executive director of Racine Vocational Ministry.