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Three Questions You’ll Get Answered at Cara’s Workforce Development Solutions Lab 

Cara Plus’ Workforce Development Solutions Lab is our way to share Cara Collective’s 30 plus years of best practices (and let’s be real, some best failures too) with nonprofit and social enterprise practitioners around the country. Cara’s model serves as a sandbox for learning, but it’s also a space for organizations to come together and learn from each other, so we all move faster and farther when eradicating poverty in our communities.

Here are three questions we explore with our Lab attendees during our two-week cohort that unpacks tools and tactics to strengthen your workforce development program.

“Why should we focus on love and forgiveness when people just want a job?”

When you hear “job training,” you probably envision a series of mock interviews and resume writing classes – and you’re not wrong. Being able to confidently walk into an interview room, with your resume in hand and your elevator pitch at the ready, is an essential lesson taught in workforce development training programs. However, we believe that curriculum should encourage job seekers to dig a little deeper and stretch a little further.

At Cara, we teach classes about skills like love and forgiveness (yep, you read that right) because the “you” that shows up to work isn’t just the work version of you; it’s your entire self. It may sound strange to incorporate love and forgiveness into a job training program, but the “soft skills” we tend to neglect or avoid entirely are necessary for succeeding on a job and building a healthy life for yourself and your family.

During our Workforce Development Solutions Lab, you’ll have the opportunity to meet our frontline trainers who know the ins and outs of how to build trust and shift perspectives in the classroom, which is vital when talking about not only love and forgiveness, but topics like conflict resolution and communication. Attendees of our Workforce Development Solutions Lab will also walk away with the Attendee Workbook that includes an in-depth overview of our training model, as well as many of the tools we use along the participant journey. 

“Okay, so we have motivated job seekers who are ready to work, but how do we partner with employers to provide the actual jobs?”

To set up job seekers for long-term success, developing trusted relationships with nearby employers can help your job seekers go from where they are to where they want to go. Cultivating relationships with unique employment partners is the first step and it takes time – as our Employment Services team will attest.

Our approach is one of partnership, never viewing the relationship as a transaction. We want employers to succeed just as much as we want our job seekers to thrive, which is why we work side by side with Chicagoland employers in need of untapped talent. We get to know our employment partners, their workplace cultures and, most importantly, how they support their employees. These employers don’t see our work as charity, but as a strategic advantage to fuel their companies’ success.

At the Workforce Development Solutions Lab, you’ll meet our Employment Services team and dive into what Cara Collective has learned about building relationships with employers, matching job opportunities to our job seekers, and how to balance the goals of both. We’ll also send you home with the tools and assessments our Employment Services team uses every day. 

“Wait, once job seekers get hired, how do we make sure they stick and stay on the job?”

At Cara, we’ve learned that coaching is everything. Our employed participants are assigned coaches who regularly check in with them throughout their entire first year on the job. In fact, a participant doesn’t graduate from our program unless they hit one year at the same employer.

We recognize how challenging that first year can be, which is why our coaches serve as a sounding board, strategic advisor, resource connector, and provider of encouragement and love (even if it’s the occasional tough love). Together, we navigate any bumps in the road, whether it be in a participant’s professional or personal life. This makes all the difference for people working towards long-term stability and ending intergenerational poverty.

In our Workforce Development Solutions Lab, our Coaching team shares how they continue to show up for participants, day-in and day-out. They walk you through Cara’s Stability Assessments in your Attendee Workbook, so you can gauge participants’ needs and barriers to employment. 

To further unpack these questions and so many more, we hope you will join us in an upcoming Workforce Development Solutions Lab. We would love to meet and collaborate with you; and together, help more job seekers find hope, jobs, and opportunity.

Ready to get started? Register for our next Workforce Development Solutions Lab.

For any questions, please contact