Representatives of the Indiana Department of Labor Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship (OWBLA) formally recognized the Joshua Works Workforce Development Initiative as a certified State Earn and Learn (SEAL) program. The ceremony was held on March 23 at McMillen Park Community Center in Fort Wayne.
Joshua Works is the first recognized SEAL program serving adults in the greater Fort Wayne area. With multi-million dollar redevelopment projects driving up demand for skilled construction workers throughout northeast Indiana, the timing could not be better.
Matt Presley, OWBLA Regional Director, said, “Joshua Works has been intentional in the creation of this program to support their participants and has garnered support from both community stakeholders and industry partners alike. As a result, this SEAL program delivers employers in the construction industry a pool of well-trained and prepared employees that have the employability skills, technical skills, and support system necessary to be successful.”
Joshua Works offers pre-apprenticeship training in the construction trades and industry, while also cultivating employer partnerships with corporations, as well as minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses. Joshua Works helps prepare individuals to acquire and sustain careers, while meeting employer needs for productive, dependable workers.
“We believe in Joshua Works’ innovative workforce development program that helps our residents develop greater self-sufficiency,” said Arlan Friesen, President of Ambassador Enterprises. “This collaborative program has a compelling strategy for strengthening the moral, relational, and economic health of our community. At Ambassador Enterprises, we proudly support efforts with this kind of lasting impact on Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana.”
Participants in the 10-week program receive employability skills training, construction math and blueprint reading, three industry-valued credentials, and opportunities for internships and employment in the construction industry. Graduates will have opportunities to continue employment, enter a United States Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program, and/or attend Indiana Tech to pursue a Certificate in Construction Management.
Joshua Works is an initiative of Joshua’s Hand, Inc., a local not-for-profit committed to “empowering individuals, families, and business to transcend hardships and create positive opportunities though socioeconomic programming and initiatives.”
Joshua Works is privately funded. At the March 23 S.E.A.L. ceremony, Sherry Grate, Vice President of Ambassador Enterprises, presented a $20,000 matching grant. Jeff Ostermann, Senior Vice President of Sweetwater, presented a $150,000 gift over three years.
Savanah Hammond, a March 2021 graduate of Joshua Works, recently accepted an employment opportunity and is continuing and pursuing a certificate in construction management at Indiana Tech. She states, “Joshua Works will bring about new connections and diverse relationships, benefiting not just me and other students within the program but the community. I see a positive chain reaction coming from this program.”
Pastor Cedric Walker, founder and CEO of Joshua’s Hand, Inc. added, “If a person isn’t working to their best ability, it may be because they have not discovered the dignity of labor. We do all we can to restore that spirit of dignity in our community.”