United Way hosts men’s conference to build job skills

Partners with ManpowerGroup on event

Job coaches work with attendees at United Way's men conference.

Last updated on May 14th, 2019 at 01:43 am

About 50 men gathered at ManpowerGroup’s headquarters today in Milwaukee for a United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County conference aimed at helping them overcome barriers to employment and rub elbows with local employers.

Participants of the free one-day job conference, called “Success Starts Here!,” had the opportunity to create or polish a resume, work one-on-one with professional mentors and do on-the-spot interviews with local employers.

Job coaches work with attendees at United Way’s men conference.

Nafessa Jackson, community investment program manager with ManpowerGroup, said the idea for a men’s workshop emerged from the civil unrest in Sherman Park in 2016.

“We knew the youth in the Milwaukee area really needed some support and direction as to how to gain employment so they can prevent themselves from being in negative situations and environments,” she said. 

Last year, Manpower held a workshop in partnership with Johnson Media Consulting that focused on work-life balance. This year, Manpower partnered with United Way to launch Success Starts Here! with a focus on giving men confidence to search for jobs and equipping them with the skills to pursue them.

“It’s about providing them the skills but also conveying that you and anyone here can get the job you need,” Jackson said. “And I think a lot of them have felt so defeated that they’re feeling like they don’t have the ability.”

Shannon Reed, United Way’s director of innovative strategies for boys and men of color, kicked off the conference with a session entitled “How To Tie A Tie.”

“You’re going to prepare for the interview by practicing questions, updating your resume…then it’s time to prepare for your first impression,” Reed said. “Presentation is big, because that is your first impression. If we can prepare our men both mentally and physically, they will have a much greater advantage.”

Each attendee received a tie, a button down business shirt courtesy of Kohl’s, a professional padfolio and socks.

Five local companies, including Bon-Ton, Palermo’s, and Batteries Plus, held on-the-spot interviews with attendees and scheduled interviews for later dates.

“We understand that there are many barriers to employment for men in the Greater Milwaukee area,” said Joel Peterson, manager of diversity development and community engagement, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. “This is why we made sure to have employers on hand that are ready to interview and hire men, especially those whose backgrounds may be less favorable to other employers.”

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.