ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- It's not easy finding a job these days.
It's even harder when you're looking for work with a criminal background.
But help is being provided by a Fort Wayne employment service that pairs up companies and ex-cons like a match made in heaven.
" I’m doing a lot of wiring and plumbing for the electrical and the pneumatic systems, as well as doing all the grunt work that needs to get done," said Kevin Kelly, who isn’t about to complain about his duties at Glaze Tool & Engineering in New Haven.
Back in September he landed a temp job at the company.
But in short order, he was put on the full-time payroll.
" I got a little bump in pay, of course, going from temp to being hired full time, so that helped. Then again, with the benefits and having a family and starting out, that all pays off in the end," said Kelly.
It's a workplace success with a twist.
What makes Kevin's story interesting is, he's an ex-offender.
He was connected to the company through a Fort Wayne staffing agency with a mission of helping ex-cons get back on their feet.
The outfit is called Blue Jacket, a non-profit agency that's been around 7 years.
60 percent of the ex-offenders who graduate from Blue Jacket's training get hooked up with jobs within 28 days.
One particular program in the agency, known as Opportunity Staffing, concentrates on linking workers and employers to temporary openings with a goal of turning them into permanent long-term positions.
Companies pay Blue Jacket a fee for getting help in the door, which takes care of things like workman's comp and health insurance, on a short-term basis.
But unlike the arrangement with traditional employment agencies, there's no contractual obligation to keep the worker if he or she turns out to be a bad fit, and there's no additional fee charged once the worker converts to full-time.
" The minute I know these employees are able to do the job and satisfy me, I can bring them on at no cost, and I'm very happy with the people I've got from there," said Bill Glaze Jr., the owner of Glaze Tool & Engineering.
Blue Jacket recognizes it can't afford to provide employers job candidates who don't measure up.
" How well can I trust that this person is not going to steal from me, or hurt a fellow employee, and so we vetted individuals for motivation and for trust," said Tony Hudson, the Executive Director for Blue Jacket.
In case there are problems, the workers are bonded so the hiring companies don't have exposure to liability.
But there is still a gamble, and Kelly is grateful Bill Glaze went out on a limb for him.
" He actually took the time to meet me as a person and get to know me as a person, give me a chance to prove myself," said Kelly.
In a country worried about going over the fiscal cliff, you can make the argument that Blue Jacket is trying to make sure one hard fall doesn't mean a person is down and out for good.
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