Meet the Cities: Worcester, Massachusetts | XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling

Feb 25 2021

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Through the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling competition, teams will collaborate with workforce boards and XPERT advisors to advance new training technologies that lead to jobs paying a living wage and offering opportunities for career growth. During the weeks leading up to our March 8th Qualified Teams announcement, we’re introducing you to the people behind each of the six selected pilot workforce boards through the XPRIZE Meet the Cities blog series. Meet our fourth city partner, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Throughout Central Massachusetts, the MassHire Central Region Workforce Board is working hard to connect diverse employers with jobseekers. The Board is a public/private partnership that develops, coordinates and implements job readiness and career enhancement strategies, along with supporting tactics, programs, and other activities. With its partners, MassHire Central identifies and leverages community resources to promote economic opportunity across 38 cities and towns. They place people in industries ranging from health care to science and tech, manufacturing, office administration, transportation/logistics/warehousing, hospitality, and education. Between 2019 and 2020, the Board and its associated Career Centers in Worcester and Southbridge served a staggering 9,641 job seekers with a total 25,814 customer career center visits. 

"MassHire Central Region Workforce Board well deserves its role in the XPRIZE competition. It’s a very dynamic and engaged workforce board, not just with its region’s business, but the individuals they serve, helping them not only find work, but stays with them to ensure they are a path to careers important to the region. NAWB is proud of their work and the enormous benefits they bring to their region." - Ron Painter, President and CEO, National Association of Workforce Boards

Now, MassHire is partnering with us at XPRIZE, New Profit, and JFFLabs, to pilot promising tech that will be developed by our XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling Qualified Teams. "XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling will allow us to increase our efficiency and effectiveness so we can help more people while better using our limited resources,” explained Jeff Turgeon, Executive Director at MassHire, on his hopes for the collaboration. Below, he shares more about the amazing work the organization does.

What’s the unique impact the Board and Career Centers offer workers, businesses, and your community at large?

Free services. As the public workforce system in Worcester and 37 surrounding communities, we offer services for employers and job seekers alike at no cost. This includes the ability to connect directly with the talent pool of those collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

What’s one of your favorite stories about someone your organization has significantly impacted? 

We worked with a mid-career employee from a manufacturing company who had worked with the same employer for more than a decade before being suddenly laid off. He was devastated and wasn’t sure where to turn nor the resources available to help him get back to work. After talking with career center staff, he decided to reinvent himself and enter the biotech manufacturing sector. He attended a local training program paid for through a career center Individual Training Account (ITA) grant. After he successfully completed the program, he landed a job with a leading biotech company making more money than before he was laid off. He has since received multiple promotions and is now a supervisor.

How is being part of XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling and the Future of Work Grand Challenge changing your strategies for engaging regional employers and community partners? 

Our involvement in the XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling and Future of Work Grand Challenge is giving us a fresh look at how we can use cutting-edge technology to help us improve our services and operations. It is opening doors to tools that we didn’t know existed and giving us new ideas about how to serve our customers better.

How do you see the City of Worcester and Central Massachusetts region changing in the next 10 years? What are some exciting new and emerging industries?

Asentral MA area becomes more diverse, we’re also experiencing something of a renaissance: young professionals have reinvigorated the downtown Worcester area and are driving significant cultural changes. The region is also supporting a burgeoning life-sciences industry and continues to grow our healthcare and educational sectors. I’m bullish on the expansion of these and other industries. 

What are you most radically optimistic about in your field of work? 

In addition to helping a broader array of employers find and hire qualified employees, I look forward to identifying and integrating the right technologies that enable us to cost-effectively increase the reach of job readiness and preparation services for our customers and clients.

Next up: How XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling tech is making a big impact in Norfolk, Virginia

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