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One-Stop Collaborations: The Key to Expanding Your Workforce Connections

MassWorks 6, 2008


Originally published: 3/2008

Suggested audiences:


For those of you who have little or no experience with One-Stop Career Centers, you may ask, “Why should I invest time in creating relationships with my local center?” The answer: connections and resources. Finding ways to collaborate with the mainstream workforce system can not only expand the opportunities for the people you serve but position your organization as a valuable resource to the workforce development system. What are One-Stops?

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 mandated One-Stop Career Centers to deliver public workforce development services. The intent of WIA was to bring together a wide range of federally funded employment and training programs to create an integrated service system to meet the needs of all job seekers. One-Stops may include additional programs and services in addition to those mandated by WIA. There are currently 33 full service One-Stops throughout Massachusetts and four satellite centers, which are overseen by local Workforce Investment Boards.

While the range of services varies from center to center, job seekers with disabilities should expect to receive the same types of services at a Career Centers as anyone else. There are three levels of services.

The bottom line: a job seeker can walk into to a One-Stop, register, and generally start receiving some services almost immediately.

Why should I try to partner with the One-Stops?

Since employers are also customers of the One-Stops, they use the centers to screen potential applicants, recruit job seekers through electronic postings and organize job fairs. Developing collaborative relationships with the One-Stops may create opportunities to increase employer contacts and expand your networks as well as gather information about current labor market information and trends.

Participation in services at the local Career Center can also “normalize” the job seeking process for people with disabilities. At One-Stop centers people from all backgrounds—such as dislocated workers, career changers and Welfare to Work participants—are all there with a common goal. Job seekers with disabilities may discover that they are not the only ones who find it challenging to obtain employment. Additionally, they will learn to use generic resources that may help them in future job searches. Finally, the presence of job seekers with disabilities at the One-Stop sends a message to individuals without disabilities, who get to see people with disabilities as viable and interested candidates in the labor pool.

Why should the Career Center want to collaborate with my organization?

Career Centers receive much of their funding based on outcomes they achieve through placements. The job seekers you serve represent an untapped pool of people that can benefit from Career Center services. When they become employed, this contributes to the Centers’ outcomes.

Rehabilitation providers should be aware that they represent an important resource of expertise. One-Stops are open to the public, and therefore provide services to customers who may have disabilities but are not receiving any support services. Your organization can provide training and information to Career Center staff that can help them effectively serve these customers. You may also be a resource to the Business Service Representatives who work directly with employers.

What do partnerships look like?

There are a wide range of possibilities for collaboration. At an informal level a job developer can accompany a job seeker to the Career Center, helping them through intake and orientation and providing them with assistance using the various job search related resources. At a more formal level a provider may join a task force or advisory committee developed by the Career Center or become active in their region’s Workforce Investment Board. Provider organizations can also collaborate with One-Stops through educational workshops, job fairs, transportation initiatives and other community activities. Some One-Stops have agreed to offer a space, with a desk and phone, to a provider agency for a few days a week to meet with referrals from other staff at the center. Can you give me some examples?

Massachusetts has been a leader in initiatives that have increased the capacity of One-Stops to serve people with disabilities. The collaborative efforts between Career Centers and provider agencies range from informal partnerships to formalized cooperative efforts though grant funding. However, you don’t need a grant to collaborate with One-Stops.

Here are some examples:

How do I start the conversation?

A good way to start is to go to your local center and ask for a tour. Consider meeting the Disability Program Navigator. Disability Program Navigators serve every Career Center in the state and they help to ensure access for people with disabilities at the Career Center and pursue linkages and resources in the community. Most navigators also facilitate Disability Action Committees (DAC) in their region. A DAC may consist of representatives from local rehabilitation providers, Chambers of Commerce, Career Center staff, state human service agencies, and other stakeholders. Taking the initiative to be active in your region’s DAC can open a range of possibilities in helping your clients connect to the workforce.

An important fact to remember is that developing collaborations between organizations is like forming any other new relationship. It takes time and each party brings something valuable to the table. Start with what your organization has to offer. You bring capable job seekers and expertise in accommodations and accessibility issues that make you a valuable resource to your local One-Stop.

Working Together

It is easy to talk about collaboration. Making it work requires strategic commitment. One employment provider serving individuals with disabilities felt strongly that working effectively with the Career Center in their area would enhance the services they provide. In order to move forward they implemented the following strategies:

As a result of these activities, the employment agency has partnered with the local Career Centers and workforce board on a number of grant-funded initiatives that will benefit both the employment agency and the One-Stop system.

An effective way to connect to your local One-Stops is to contact the Disability Program Navigator that serves your area. Disability Navigators were established through collaboration by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration. They are responsible for helping customers with disabilities understand the work support programs available through the centers, facilitating connections to disability resources in the community, and increasing linkages to potential employers. To find out more, contact the navigator in your area.


JobNet, The Work Place, Boston Career Link

Sharon Tulchinsky

617 338-0809



BerkshireWorks / Pittsfield & North Adams

David Babcock

413 499-2220



Taunton, Attleboro & Fall River Career Center(s)

Lesli Gazerro

508 977-1400 lgazerro@bristolwib.org


Career Works

Jody Horvitz

508 513-3400 jhorvitz@careerworks.org

Cape & Islands

Career Opportunities / Hyannis

Edward McGown

508 771-5627 EMcGown@detma.org


Workforce Central CC / Worcester, Milford & Southbridge

Sharon Arnold (Acting DPN)

508 799-1590 arnoldS@ci.worcester.ma.us

Franklin Hampshire

Franklin Hampshire CC Greenfield

Deb Sullivan (Acting DPN)

413 774-4361 dsullivan@detma.org

Franklin Hampshire CC Northampton

Ted Owczarski (Acting DPN)

413 586-6506



CareerPoint Michelle Miller (Acting DPN)

413 532-4900 mmiller@careerpointma.org


Richard Berrena

413 858-2885 rberrena@getajob.comc

Greater Lowell

Career Center of Lowell

William Norris

978 458-2503 William.norris@cclowell.org

Greater New Bedford

Greater New Bedford &

Wareham Career Centers

Liza Tobojka

508 990-4105 etobojka@detma.org

Merrimack Valley

Valley Works Career Center - Lawrence

Terrence Throwe

978 722-7081 tthrowe@detma.org

Metro North

Career Source,Career Source -Everett, The Career Place

Jennifer Hinde

781 932-5511 jhinde@detma.org

Metro Southwest

Employment & Training Resources / Newton, Norwood & Marlborough

Arthur Gallagher

781-769-4120 agallagher@detma.org

North Central

North Central CC / Leominster & Gardner

Vanessa Adams

978 632-5050 vadams@detma.org

South Coastal

Plymouth Career Center

Thelma Williams

508 732-5315

Quincy Career Center

617 745-4016


North Shore

North Shore CC /Salem, Gloucester & Lynn

Sandra Efstratiou

978 825-7209



Find out what the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development has to offer at www.mass.gov/dwd. Check out the Upcoming Career Center Events link at the bottom of the page.

Locate a One-Stop near you at www.servicelocator.org; or call 1-877-US2-JOBS.

Find out about events and training at local One-Stops at www.careerjournal.com/calendar/massachusetts.html Connect to workforce service providers for resources, training and networking opportunities at http://cwc.cedac.org/.


Innovative Employment Strategies: A Comprehensive Training Series is a certificate program beginning in March 2008. Get more information and register at www.nercep.org.

Available in April, Career Development for Employment Staff is an online course for employment providers. Visit www.nercep.org for more information about this and other online courses.

Positive Employment Practices: How to Best Approach and Educate Employers will focus on services for individuals who are blind or have low vision. For more information on this two-day conference in Portland, Maine, on April 30 and May 1 go to www.rcep1.org or call 508-767-7371.

This issue of MassWorks was written by Rick Kugler. Special thanks for contributions by David Hoff, Lesli Gazerro, Lisa Matrundola, Barbara Parmet and Cindy Thomas.

For more information, contact: Rick Kugler Institute for Community Inclusion UMass Boston 100 Morrissey Blvd. Boston, Massachusetts 02125 617/287-4378 (voice); 617/287-4350 (TTY) rick.kugler@umb.edu www.massworks.org

ICI: promoting inclusion for people with disabilities