CVS Job Training Project:
A Workforce Development Initiative that Exemplifies the Importance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October
In the spring of 2012, when Scott Northrop was looking to get back into the workforce, he asked himself a question. “What am I capable of?”
Now nearly six months after permanently joining the pharmacy team at CVS in New Milford, Connecticut, Scott is asking himself a different question: “What more can I do?”
Scott’s journey is part of the CVS Industry Specific Training Placement Program, a new job training and creation program in Connecticut that primarily targets its stores in Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
Since September 2011, Kennedy Employment Services, a division of The Kennedy Center in Trumbull, has partnered with CVS/Caremark and the State of Connecticut Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) to launch the CVS Job Training Project.
According to Mark Henry, Director of Employer Development with the DORS, “The Connecticut Department of Rehabilitation Services recognized a need for workforce development in our state after hearing from local businesses. DORS decided to offer funding through a competitive process for Industry Specific Training and Placement Programs and were fortunate that organizations such as CVS/Caremark and the Kennedy Center came through with an innovative training proposal.”
The CVS Job Training Project is an Industry Specific Training Placement Program (ISTPP) initiative to prepare and train individuals for employment within CVS stores. Participants are trained on site at local CVS stores as well as in classrooms at The Kennedy Center. Kennedy Employment Services has completed four training cycles and over the next year will complete an additional four training cycles in the Greater Stamford, Bridgeport, Danbury, New Haven and Naugatuck Valley regions.
Individuals who participate in the eight-week training sessions will be crossed-trained to be a CVS Crew Member as well as a Photo Technician. Kennedy Employment Services hired two staff to oversee the CVS Job Training Project: Christine Maguire, the Corporate Training Manager and a Corporate Training Specialist, Melanie Ward.
As part of the third training session, Scott was excited to begin working at CVS. By the end of his third week, he had already received an offer to stay with CVS permanently following his training. Scott was becoming a valuable member of the team in many different parts of the store – even the photo lab, where he was beginning to learn how to process photos.
“If Scott had gone through the normal application process without having completed this internship, I would have been on the fence about bringing him on board,” said Store Manager Clare Grenier, who has been employed by CVS for 23 years. “The internship gave Scott the opportunity to audition for the job, which he won on his own merits.”
“Scott’s future is very bright,” said Rick Laferriere, CVS Manager of Workforce Initiatives for New England. “He returned to school this fall and is working with our Store Manager Clare to ensure that his schedule works for both him and the store. He is taking on new tasks on a weekly basis and is being considered for a Head Cashier position. CVS is honored to partner with The Kennedy Center and the State of Connecticut Department of Rehabilitation Services on this unique pilot project in Connecticut.”
Since October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, this is a great time of year to recognize all our success stories and the contributions of employees with disabilities,” said Valerie Reyher, Vice President of Rehabilitation Services at The Kennedy Center. “This CVS Job Training Project represents just one of the many ways we train and place people with disabilities in the workforce.”
As part of the awareness campaign, The Kennedy Center will be conducting a Sensitivity Training Session on Wednesday, October 17 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Westfield Trumbull Mall in Connecticut that is open to the public. The event will be held in the Lord and Taylor Court on the 2nd floor of the mall, located next to the entrances of Lord and Taylor, Ruby Tuesday's and Ten Asian Bistro.
This event ties in well with this year’s theme, “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can You Do?” The purpose of this annual celebration is to educate the public about disability employment issues and to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.
Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy said, “Employers who ensure that inclusive workplace policies and practices are woven into the fabric and culture of the organization create an environment that encourages all workers – including those of us with disabilities – to work to their full capacity and contribute fully to the organization’s success.”
“The Kennedy Center is a leader in the state and country in the job development and placement of people with disabilities,” said Martin D. Schwartz, President and CEO of The Kennedy Center, which is headquartered in Trumbull, Connecticut. “We are honored to have been selected for this industry specific training placement program in Connecticut for CVS. This workforce development initiative will train qualified job candidates and help create new jobs.”
The goal of this program is to have approximately eighty individuals complete a twenty-hour working evaluation. Thirty of these individuals will continue with the intensive training portion of the program and be hired by CVS/Caremark. “We anticipate a 90% retention rate for the individuals who are hired through the program,” said Stefanie Knight, the Employment Services Manager at The Kennedy Center.
During the first six months, fifty-one individuals were referred to the CVS Job Training Project. Thirty one of these individuals were chosen to complete the twenty-hour working evaluation. From these thirty one individuals, eighteen individuals were chosen to move on to the intensive training which includes register training. Currently seven individuals have been hired by a local CVS store. Two additional individuals are currently waiting for a position to open up so they may start their career with CVS/Caremark. The retention rate for those hired by CVS/Caremark is currently 100%.
CVS Caremark is an innovative, fast-growing company that is expanding throughout Connecticut and the U.S. As the nation’s largest pharmacy health care provider, CVS Caremark offers a range of career opportunities across its three business units – MinuteClinic, pharmacy benefit management (PBM) and retail pharmacy.
According to said Rick Laferriere, CVS Manager of Workforce Initiatives for New England., “Our energetic and service-oriented colleagues work hard every day to make a positive difference in the lives of our customers. We are pleased to partner with Kennedy Employment Services and the State of Connecticut Department of Rehabilitation Services as we continue to open more locations throughout the country.” In Connecticut, there are currently 142 pharmacies and 11 minute clinics that are staffed by 4,300 CVS Caremark employees.