Snyder Environmental, Our House Join To Match Jobs, Training

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 12:00 am  

Our House Needs

Our House, which is a shelter for the working homeless, served 1,057 people in 2011. The nonprofit organization requires its residents to find full-time work within two weeks of moving into the shelter and to save 75 percent of their earnings.

About 80 percent of Our House residents enter the shelter unemployed, according to Our House Assistant Director Ben Goodwin.

“A lot of our folks come in and actually are employed,” Mjartan said. “It’s just oftentimes those are low-paying, part-time jobs without health insurance, without any benefits.”

Our House provides job training, GED test preparation classes, practice job interviews and other assistance to people in need of employment, but during the past 10 years or so, it has had to cut back its adult education classes to make space for programs for a growing number of homeless children, Mjartan said.

In the 1990s, Our House was the first organization to offer a computer jobs learning program geared toward people who are homeless. That, at the time, “was really innovative,” Mjartan said. “It gave [clients] an edge on the job market.”

Now adult education classes take up only about one-fourth of the shelter’s 7,000-SF education center rather than the three-fourths they once did, because children’s programming has taken over, she said. The space for hands-on classes, such as the shelter’s former small-engine repair shop, is gone.

Another problem, due to the Great Recession, is that Our House clients arrive at the shelter and often have to settle for multiple part-time jobs or temporary jobs.

“Those are not our ideal for our clients because that means that they’re still living in that place of uncertainty, which is what we’re trying to avoid for them,” Mjartan said. “We want this to be a time when they can really anchor and rebuild their lives and leave here with a job that they’ve held steadily for a year, year and a half, with movement up the pay scale in their jobs. With a career.”

What Snyder Needs

On the other hand, Snyder Environmental, which has grown rapidly during the past five years, is looking for employees to work in the physically demanding field of asbestos abatement and has struggled to find qualified people to fill positions, according to Carter, Snyder’s CEO. That is despite the fact that even the entry-level jobs pay more than the average hourly wage for Arkansas, he said.

Entry-level asbestos workers at Snyder earn $25,000 to $28,000 per year, Carter said.



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