Good, local jobs are key to a balanced and prosperous community. Currently just 17% of Somerville residents work within the city. Many residents are forced to travel hours outside of the city each day for jobs across or even beyond the Boston region, often at the expense of time with their families, wellbeing, and ability to participate in the local community.
At the same time, Somerville is undergoing tremendous transformation, both with the arrival of the Green Line Extension, adding 6 new stations this decade; and with the proposed development of Assembly Square and Inner Belt, with a projected 10.5 million square feet of new development by 2030, and 30,000 new jobs. According to Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Somerville is expected to have the highest jobs growth rate in the region between 2010 and 2035, with a 74% increase, compared to 8% increase regionally. With this transformation, there is a tremendous opportunity for Somerville residents to benefit from job expansion, to work locally, and ideally, to increase their net incomes through better jobs and cost savings (such as transportation, child care, etc.) while improving their quality of life.
The challenge we face is to find ways to match potential workers from Somerville’s workforce with the incoming jobs; to attract “good” jobs with decent salaries and benefits; and to make sure people of all incomes are on a career growth path. Until recently, existing workforce development programs were not connected, served small segments of the population, and did not necessarily connect workforce training with specific jobs.
SCC is currently working to address local jobs in the following ways:
- First Source Hiring Program / THRIVE Network: In early 2014, SCC launched a First Source Hire program as part of the newly launched Somerville Thrive network of partners to connect Somerville workers with new jobs. The Thrive Center provides a network of financial and career services, such as financial literacy classes, career development counseling, and foreclosure prevention, through a network of local organizations including SCC, The Career Place, LIFT, Somerville Homeless Coalition, The Welcome Project, and Somerville Center for Adult Learning Experiences (SCALE). Together with The Career Place, we were selected by the City of Somerville to provide workforce development and job linkage service programs that will serve at least 150 active participants from Somerville each year, and will place 60 people into jobs. This program will focus on residents with incomes below the area median income (AMI), immigrants, and under-employed people by increasing job opportunities in Somerville and improving opportunities for low income workers to increase their skills in order to access good paying jobs. Read more
- Workforce Development: Also in early 2014, the City of Somerville was announced as one of six Massachusetts cities to win a Work Cities Challenge Grant, a community development initiative by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston providing $1.8 million to support cross-sector projects in smaller cities across the state. Somerville will receive a $100,000 seed award towards reducing unemployment among low-income youth by creating new, youth-targeted workforce development systems infused with mobile technology and social media. SCC looks forward to working together with our partners at the City and The Career Place to elevate this important project for our community! Read more
- Local Jobs Along the Green Line Extension: Our Jobs For Somerville committee has worked closely with MassDOT to create and Access and Opportunity Committee to ensure local hiring as the Green Line Extension gets built through Somerville. We look forward to finalizing our Memorandum of Understanding with MassDOT outlining this agreement this spring!
Given Somerville’s unique position to dramatically increase its job base in the next 15 years, now is the perfect time to put in place the structures and systems to create a robust network of jobs training and employee-employer connections in order to meet the needs of its residents while also becoming a regional economic leader.
To get involve in SCC organizing work on local jobs, check out Jobs for Somerville!