By Rachel Smith
African American male employment increased last month. The seasonally adjusted rate rose from 58.1 to 58.4 percent from October to November, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Shaun Wilcox hoped to inch this employment statistic higher.
The almost middle-aged man is starting over from his last job with a telecommunications company.
“I used to work for Verizon Wireless,” said Wilcox. “But in 2008 when the market crashed, they gave us an option to relocate. I just decided to take the package and start over.”
He imparted wisdom from his job hunt over the past year to his 23-year-old son. “You have to be aggressive about… You have to have an etiquette about looking for a job. There is a way of doing things.”
Roxbury Resource Center Director Alan Gentle also battled to inspire black men to see their own potential.
“We’ve had some issues with males in particular who initially felt like there was no hope,” he said. “Working with them to identify where their strengths are, and to overcome the perception that they may not have a chance at getting a job.”
The greatest employment obstacle for his clients is technology, said Gentle.
“We’re challenged with either the limited skill sets or the lack of skills to compete,” Gentle remarked. “And in this ever expanding market that is more focused on technology that requires higher skills.”
Boston STRIVE Job Placement counselor Rupert Saunders discovered something different. The career and skills training program has met nearly all of its employment goals for its clients, Saunders said.
The people carry an onus over their employment, he argued.
“Sometimes we have to look at what we’ve done to ourselves and be strong enough to say, ‘you know maybe I have to start all over again.’ We’re not talking minimum wage. We’re talking the type of job I might have to do now.”
Wilcox was a student in STRIVE’s last cycle for 2012. He improved his take on job interviewing and overall attitude.
“I feel so different. I feel confident in my skills, in my credentials, in my work history and work ethic. I’m just confident in everything that is me, but I’m new.”
Wise investments kept Wilcox afloat, but now he anticipates rejoining the work force.