Need a job? Newark's 'jobmobile' is rolling through a community near you

Thursday, August 24th, 2017 - Resume

NEWARK — As part of the city’s push to get Newarkers trained and employed, Mayor Ras Baraka on Wednesday announced a new jobs program that will roll through the toughest neighborhoods. 

Literally. 

The Newark Workforce on Wheels (WOW) is a mobile job training center that will be deployed five days a week to traditionally neglected communities offering job opportunities, resume writing workshops and workforce training. The van once served as a mobile police unit. 

“We took a vehicle that used to arrest people and converted it into a vehicle that employs people,” said Deputy Mayor for Employment Rahaman Muhammad. “We’re going to use this vehicle to go into the toughest neighborhoods.” 

On Wednesday the van was parked outside Bradley Court, a housing complex run by the Newark Housing Authority, and was already taking potential job candidates to fill positions at HelloFresh

“They helped me look for a job,” said Tanae Stephens, 19, who is unemployed and was waiting to be interviewed for a customer service job. “It’s a great idea; it’s sitting in the community. Anybody can come downstairs and sign up.”

The van, emblazoned with a photo of Baraka on the side under the words “hire Newark” has several laptop stations and seats inside and will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, said Tom Bacote, director of Newark Works, the city’s workforce development arm. 

Bacote said the mobile unit will help those seeking entry level to higher level positions offering a space to apply directly to the companies, seek training materials or help polish their resumes. In the last year, Newark Works has helped 1,936 people find jobs, he said. 

Companies like Amazon, ShopRite and FedEx have also committed to working with the city to employ local residents, Muhammad said. And the mobile unit will help connect residents to those jobs. 

As part of the program, the city partnered with the Newark Housing Authority which will allow NewarkWOW to park on its properties. 1Huddle, a mobile game platform based in Newark, donated a customized game for residents to prepare for a state test that allows them to get more skills training. 

“This is such an important effort to make sure services are getting to people in communities where they live, where they work,” state Labor Commissioner Aaron Fichtner told reporters. “I think this is new for New Jersey,” he said of the mobile unit. 

The state is not providing funding for the mobile unit but does partner with the city in other workforce development programs. 

Newark’s unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the state at 7.9 percent. The city wants to lower that to 3.9 percent by October 2018 — which means employing more than 4,700 residents. 

Earlier this year, Baraka rolled out his “Hire. Buy. Live.” and “Newark 2020” initiatives calling on corporations in the city to hire 2,020 Newark residents by the year 2020.

Baraka is also encouraging companies to hire locals, buy goods and services from other Newark businesses, and work to attract their employees or students to live in the city.

“Newark is changing very, very fast,” Baraka told residents gathered outside the housing complex. “It’s important for you to be a part of that growth.”

Karen Yi may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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