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Officials cut the ribbon the newly rebranded MassHire Career Center on Wednesday.

Berkshire Works Rebrands as MassHire

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Secretary of Labor and Workforce  Development Rosalin Acosta said boards and centers throughout the state are being rebranded under the MassHire name and logo.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — We have jobs.
That's what numerous elected officials proclaimed Wednesday morning. There are thousands of jobs available.
But, at the same time, there are still thousands of people in the Berkshires looking for jobs. 
"We have jobs, lots of jobs, nearly 1,500 every day. Jobs from travel and tourism to engineering to health care, executives and entry-level and every level of talent," Mayor Linda Tyer said. "We have jobs. The Berkshires are ready to hire."
State and local officials are now looking to streamline services for job training, connecting those looking for a job with employers, placing high school interns in the field, and bolstering a one-stop shop for all workforce needs. The effort is part of the rebranding of Berkshire Works Career Center into MassHire Berkshire Career Center. 
"We know that the MassHire branding aligns with our workforce development strategies. It is local hiring. It is engaging talent early, engaging them often. It is introducing residents to work and career opportunities available and helping them develop the skills and training they need to compete for those jobs," North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard said.
According to Secretary of Labor and  Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta, there are 45 different public workforce development agencies -- 29 career centers and 16 workforce boards -- and they all operate independently and went by different names. The state headed an effort with all of those local boards to bring the entire commonwealth's workforce development under one umbrella, MassHire.
"Overall there are 45 different systems and all of those 45 different systems have different names. You could just imagine the confusion it creates," Acosta said.
Now anywhere in the state when a resident or company sees MassHire, they know what to expect. 
"MassHire is going to really work on unifying our workforce brand at both the state level and the local level. This brand is going to build trust and reliability throughout the state workforce system," said MassHire Berkshire Career Center Executive Director Melanie Gelaznik. 
"When people see this logo, they are going to know they can have confidence in the services offered."
But it is more than that, officials said. Acosta said the career center boards have a dismal 6 percent awareness rate among employers. In her career in the private sector, she never once used an employment board to find workers.
"I really didn't know about them. Our awareness among employers, unfortunately, is very low. It is around 6 percent," Acosta said. 
The career centers date back to 1935 but have long been stymied by being known as the "unemployment board." Acosta said there used to be a long line of people receiving help from the career centers throughout the state and those boards have long struggled to shake that image. 
"Still to this day a lot of our career centers have that perception and this is an opportunity to change that," Acosta said.
The center will still help people with unemployment benefits but it also seeks to expand its service among those who maybe are just looking for a career change, with those companies who need tailored types of training programs, or getting the youth into the workforce. 
Tyer said last year the organization helped 3,000 job seekers, 2,500 youth, and some 600 companies. Under a unified brand, the mayor, who serves as the chief elected officer for the workforce board, those efforts can expand. 
"I'm really excited about what the future holds for our employers and our job seekers," Tyer said.
Bernard said the city of North Adams benefited from internship opportunities, as have Northern Berkshire employers such as the Porches, YMCA, the school system, the town of Adams, BCAC, and who all took in interns this last year. Bernard calls those youth development pieces as "critically important" to growing the economy. 
Bernard said there is a burgeoning economy in the Northern Berkshires and the career center's efforts on all fronts help foster a wide array of opportunities for individuals, which in turn changes lives. 

North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard said those in workforce development play a critical role in the success of cities and towns.
"It is an incredible value to have great workforce partners working with us to provide services in the  Northern Berkshires, working with us to champion prosperity in the Berkshires and in the Commonwealth," Bernard said. 
State Rep. John Barrett III once held the executive director job at Berkshire Works. He said one of the most valuable efforts the organization does is provide job training programs. 
"We can't just talk about manufacturing. We can't just talk about the creative economy. We have to talk about jobs for all people. Even the unskilled workers, they are entitled to a job," Barrett said.
MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board Chairwoman Eva Sheridan said one in five Americans work in jobs that didn't even exist in the 1980s. Retail, manufacturing, and technology have all been changing and with that, employers need workers with the right skills. She sees the rebranding effort as one that will reinvigorate the organizations statewide.
Wednesday was the 12th rebranding ceremony across the state and there are four more to go. Acosta said there are some 200,000 jobs available statewide while 134,000 people are looking for work. MassHire hopes to bring those two sides together.
"We know the unemployment rate is low right now but, maybe it is the old banker in me, we know the economy does change. We need to make sure we are ready," Acosta said.

Tags: employment,   job training,   jobs,   

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Buddy Walk of the Berkshires Returns in Force to Streets of Dalton Staff

The Buddy Walk of the Berkshires heads out from Dalton's Craneville Elementary on Saturday.
DALTON, Mass. — Members of the Berkshire County Down Syndrome Family Group have supported one another for years, including right through the pandemic years.
But Saturday's 16th Buddy Walk of the Berkshires had the feel of a long overdue family reunion as the broader community had a chance to come together and celebrate those families and individuals who make up the support group.
"I've been coming for 12 years," George Wallace said. "It's amazing because everyone is so supportive."
Wallace, who attends Monument Mountain Regional High School, said he was happy to see some of his teachers and other friends at the annual event as he waited for the walk to take off from Craneville Elementary School.
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