Joseph Robinson, III had been unemployed for about a year after working at McDonald’s. Prior to that he had attended Coastal Alabama Community College but dropped out due to transportation issues. He admits drifting without a plan for his future. That’s when he heard about the WISE program.
The WISE program—or Work-Based Industry Soft-skills Education—is funded by WIOA through the SouthWest Alabama Partnership for Training (SWAPTE). The Monroeville/Monroe County Community Development Corporation (MMCCDC) is the fiscal agent and administers the program. Darlene Thompson, Executive Director of the MMCCDC and the Monroeville/Monroe County Economic Development Authority, says that individuals like Joseph are exactly who we wanted to assist when we wrote the grant. Thompson said, “We target young men and women between the ages of 17-24, who need soft-skills training, basic skills training, and occupational certificates that will assist them with acquiring and retaining a job.” In addition to the classroom training held at the Monroe County Public Library, participants in the WISE program work for local employers such as Barnes Enterprises, BD&S Cleaning & Security Service, the Monroeville Senior Center, and Homestead Hospice. “This is valuable work experience for our participants,” Thompson added.
“I had no idea what I was going to do until I saw a flyer for the WISE program,” Joseph said. “I called and spoke to Ms. Veronica Moore and later met with Mrs. Thompson. WISE gave me a life; I couldn’t get a job because I didn’t have any experience.” During Joseph’s training period he worked at Barnes Enterprises. His plan was to get his Commercial Driver’s License so working at a transportation company was a perfect fit. Mr. Terry Kilpatrick, owner of Barnes Enterprises, said, “The WISE program provided my Company the opportunity to introduce Joseph to the transportation industry without bearing any of the related employment costs or the normal red tape associated with other training programs. Joseph’s entry into our industry after completion of his WISE commitment is a win for our industry as well as for Joseph.”
When asked if he would recommend the WISE program to his friends, Joseph enthusiastically responded, “Yes I would tell others to give WISE a chance. You don’t have anything to lose and I guarantee it’s well worth it. I was able to get my CDL at no cost to me.”
“Don’t know what you’re going to do, give Ms. Darlene a call. WISE will cover all of your expenses and help you all along the way. Ms. Darlene made sure I was all right. She checked on me all the time.” The WISE teacher, Ms. Randall James was great and helped me increase my confidence. The entire program was top notch. “I’m thankful for the work-based experience I received at Billy Barnes Enterprises which allowed me to know about the truck before I started the CDL classes. I already knew how to perform the pre-trip truck inspections when I started the class.