Since September of last year, Blue Jacket has been testing a pilot initiative to shuttle people with 12-passenger vans to and from employers in Warsaw, IN and Markle, IN and it plans to partner with a large orthopedic manufacturer providing well-paying, gainful employment starting immediately and growing to 50 placements by this April.
Transportation is the largest barrier for many people that are new to the workforce or re-entering after a period of unemployment. Assessments reveal that 83% of Blue Jacket’s clientele either do not have reliable transportation, a valid driver license, or both.
Becky Weimerskirch from CTN and Betsy Kachmar from Citilink provided guidance to Blue Jacket’s Executive Director, Tony Hudson and recommended strategies for Blue Jacket to shuttle their clients. Hudson stated that, "It has been on their radar for years to transport workers to companies outside of the Citilink bus lines that have 2nd and 3rd shift jobs but it quickly becomes very complicated. So because we are already in the workforce development domain, we figured we’re uniquely positioned to try it out."
Blue Jacket entered into a partnership with a 3rd party entity providing vans at a reasonable rate and it plans to add 6 more shuttles by the end of April, 2018.
Blue Jacket, a Fort Wayne-based nonprofit, is not presently funded by government grants, making this project sustainable on a free-market model where the riders bare a small trip fee and the employers support a staffing fee that helps Blue Jacket bridge the gap. Blue Jacket was blessed in early December with a $3,000 donation from Christ’s Church – Fort Wayne that will help seed the shuttle transports.
Blue Jacket Staffing Sales Coordinator Jarrod Williams stated that, "The prospect of offering jobs at many more dollars per hour at these sub-rural companies hungry for good workers is a no-brainer." Williams stated that, "We are excited to place over 50 people at a reputable orthopedic manufacturer but a little nervous to start hammering out all the kinks."
For some jobs, the requirement is to be able to read and write English well, but not all of them. Blue Jacket screens no one for their training as long as they present a barrier to employment and have a strong motivation to work.
Blue Jacket is telling anyone who is comfortable with computers, can stand on their feet an entire shift and possesses a High School Diploma/GED to call 744-1900 for $15/hour jobs filling they are filling immediately. Blue Jacket conducts background checks, drug and other testing after clients graduate from the 2-week Career Academy.