PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The MassHire Berkshire Workforce Board on Thursday held its annual meeting virtually during which five local professionals were recognized with Workforce Impact Awards and the board highlighted its yearly efforts in meeting the demand for highly skilled workers in Berkshire County.
During fiscal 2021, the board leveraged more than $3.5 million to assist 662 employers, 2,600 job seekers, and 3,400 youth with workforce needs.
"Since March 2020, the Workforce Board assisted over 650 companies with their workforce needs, answering their immediate employment questions, connecting them to grants and economic development opportunities, referring them to the Career Center, and collaborating with them with numerous training grants," Executive Director Heather Boulger said.
"These efforts led to $165,000 for manufacturing training and $286,000 for career readiness programming. We are also happy to be announcing this morning that the Berkshire Workforce Board has received an additional $225,000 in health-care resources to train additional nursing and medical assistants."
The board also worked with the Berkshire Skills Cabinet and implemented training in health care, manufacturing and hospitality as a part of the Berkshire Workforce Blueprint. This gave more than 120 organizations labor-market data from the board that helped generate $1.6 million in new resources.
State Sen. Adam Hinds and Pittsfield Director of Administrative Services Roberta McCulloch-Dews were in attendance at the meeting to applaud the board's work during the COVID-19 pandemic and congratulate the award recipients.
"This was where the action happened before a global pandemic and an economic downturn," Hinds said. "And now your work has been more critical than ever this past year, and it will be for some time."
• Tony Dobrowolski, business editor of The Berkshire Eagle, was given the 2021 Workforce Ambassador award for his advocacy of workforce items and for demonstrating "strong civic value in community journalism with integrity, honesty, and fairness."
• Sherwood Guernsey of First Congregational Church of Williamstown was given the 2021 Youth Ambassador award for establishing and supporting the North County YouthWorks program for the past seven years that has made a "significant" difference in the lives of local youths.
• Sarah Miller, Berkshire Healthcare System's director of education and training, and Susan Choquette, a registered nurse and clinical trainer, were presented the 2021 Employer of the Year award for establishing a blended hybrid nursing assistant program during the pandemic to help get people back to work while keeping residents, staff, and students safe.
• Christopher Kapiloff and John Lafleur of LTI Smart Glass were presented the 2021 Employer of the Year award for being strong supporters of manufacturing initiatives and for providing on-the-job training opportunities to get people back to work.
• Taylor Gibeau, community relations and cash management coordinator for Adams Community Bank, was presented the 2021 Youth Champion award for assistance in planning, establishing, and participating in the first Virtual Career Week for area students and having employers submit videos for the board's career readiness library.
"On behalf of Mayor [Linda] Tyer, I just want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Berkshire Workforce board members, the staff and partners collectively all are a powerful catalyst in helping our employers with their workforce needs and connecting our workforce with essential resources and opportunities," McCulloch-Dews said.
"And to today's awardees, thank you for your consistent diligence and commitment to workforce development. Your efforts and collaboration have truly made a powerful difference and our community it's better for it."
McCulloch-Dews spoke on the work that the city did to support local businesses with COVID-19 Economic Recovery funding that was implemented in April 2020. With the funding, 90 small businesses in Pittsfield received a total of $682,000 and the program continues to accept applications.
She added that every effort, every admission, and every program makes an impact and helps the city and county continue to keep moving forward in the right direction.
Hinds reported that the county's unemployment rate is down to just over 7 percent as compared to the 80 percent unemployment rate in March. He also highlighted the advantages of remote work, as people can apply for jobs elsewhere while being based in Berkshire County with a "high quality of life and a lower cost of living."
He is chairing a new committee called Reimagining Massachusetts Post-COVID Resiliency that is focused on preparing for the workforce of the future, the economy of the future, and recognizing what vulnerabilities when there is a shock to the system.
Making sure the state budget is supporting connecting activities such as youth works and the workforce board funding its self is important, he added.
"You keep showing when it matters, that you get the job done and your key piece of how we have a vibrant thriving economy here locally," Hinds said to the board.
Also in this meeting, the BWB voted on the Workforce Business Plan for FY2022 and elected a slate of officers.
Eva Sheridan of Boyd Technologies was appointed as president; Michael Taylor, Pittsfield's director of human resources, and Albert Ingegni III of Berkshire Health Care Systems, as vice presidents; Doug McNally of Frosthollow Associates as Youth Council chair; Superintendent James Brosnan of McCann Technical School as treasurer; and Chelsea Tyer of Neenah Paper as secretary.
"Our annual meeting is an opportunity to revisit our yearly accomplishments, recognize our workforce champions, and to set the stage for a productive new fiscal year," board President Eva Sheridan said. "Today's theme is really all about appreciation, collaboration, and opportunity. Everything that we do, we do with input, engagement, and involvement from all of you and we truly appreciate your voice and continued participation."
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Police Advisory Committee Frustrated It Can't Review Estrella Report
By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Despite the Police Advisory Review Board being reconstituted after the police killing of Daniel Gillis in 2017, the panel is not permitted to cover the report on the police killing of Miguel Estrella.
This has left PARB frustrated and questioning its purpose once again.
"I was highly disappointed and shocked by this revelation," Chair Ellen Maxon said. "And very frustrated."
Since the panel's last meeting in May, Maxon asked Police Chief Michael Wynn if members would be able to review the report generated by the Police Department on the fatal police shooting of Miguel Estrella on March 25 and he reported that it is not in PARB's ordinance.
The ordinance states that the board is to "review all final investigative reports regarding citizen complaints," making it not able to cover the report generated from the shooting.
The funds will go towards the purchase of three Hybrid Electric 35-foot heavy duty transit buses replacing three 2014 buses; one 28-foot cutaway bus replacing one 2013 bus and the replacement of the 20-year-old HVAC system at the Intermodal Transportation Center. click for more
Incumbent Andrea Harrington touted the systemic changes she's made in the office during her 3 1/2 years in office while challenger Timothy Shugrue stressed his decades of experience on both sides in the courtroom during the sometimes heated debate.
click for more
The candidates answered 12 questions with an option for rebuttal, were able to ask each other one question, and gave opening and closing statements. Topics ranged from participation with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the Western Mass Regional Women's Corrections Center and... click for more
Community partners gathered at the Churchill Brook culvert on Hancock Road on Thursday to highlight flood mitigation efforts assisted by the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program grant. click for more
Located on the B&P Auto Body Supply at the corner of Robbins Avenue and Columbus Avenue, it depicts a young boy making a wish on a dandelion with an eco-friendly landscape in the background. Within the mural is a farm, windmills to supply energy, an electric car, and a Bird scooter.
click for more