Western Pennsylvania's job market can work against some employers.
"There definitely is a labor shortage," said Dawn Fuchs, CEO of Carnegie-based Weavertown Environmental Group.
The shortage pertains to workers who possess the skills necessary to work for a company such as Weavertown, which among its many services provides environmental solutions for the region's natural gas industry.
To help fill positions, the company has partnered with a social service agency that provides career opportunities for at-risk youth.
Auberle, a McKeesport nonprofit serving 2,300 children and families in eight counties, has launched an initiative, the Employment Institute, to match organizations and job seekers.
Partner companies provide training for existing positions, with an eye toward filling them with qualified candidates. At Weavertown, participants receive hands-on instruction in such specialized tasks as hazardous waste operations and emergency response.
"It's not just classroom settings," Ms. Fuchs explained. "They actually go in a simulated field environment and work in a suit."
Her company provides instruction and all necessary equipment for the training, which leads to the certification necessary for employment in the field.
"This is practical training in emergency management," Ms. Fuchs said. "If someone wants to pursue that as a career, this gives us an opportunity to hire them."
Another Auberle employment partner is Massaro Properties, an O'Hara commercial real estate company.
"When they approached us about the opportunity, it made sense," said David Massaro, director of real estate services. "It's a strong organization and kids were available to fill positions we needed."
Starting last summer, participants have been working to provide maintenance at several of the Massaro real estate properties.
"It's working very well for us," Mr. Massaro said.
The training received by participants also extends to "soft skill" development, considerations that apply to functioning properly in the work environment.
"We drive home the point about work ethic: You're on time; you're part of a team," said John Lydon, CEO of Auberle.
"If you want to have a job and make money, this is what's happening."
The Employment Institute provides assistance in developing resumes, applying for positions and preparing for interviews, along with explaining the requirements once an applicant lands a job.
Mr. Lydon said a major obstacle to companies' ability to hire is the number of candidates who fail drug testing.
Auberle also provides addiction services as part of its 16 program areas.
"We're putting young people in a position to go out and keep a job," Mr. Lydon said.
"It's win-win for everybody ... when it works, everybody succeeds."
Harry Funk, freelance writer: email@example.com.