A new partnership between the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA), the Pulaski County Detention Center and Somerset Community College will better prepare inmates for re-entering the workforce with soft-skills training and reward their efforts to learn important job skills with good time served.
With an agreement signed today, SPEDA will financially support bringing soft skills training curriculum developed by human behavior and organization dynamics expert Greg Coker to inmates at the detention center. Coker, a resident of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, provides coaching and training programs that focus on purpose and engagement as a catalyst for personal transformation. Coker’s clients include educational institutions, business and industry, correctional facilities and high-performance individuals.
“Pulaski Jailer Anthony McCollum is doing outstanding work and he is passionate about helping those incarcerated prepare themselves for the workforce upon release,” SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said.
Coker’s Soft Skills Bootcamp, Re-Entry Edition offers each inmate an easy-to-read field manual that includes models and battle-tested wisdom while teaching important interpersonal skills — communication, team-building, problem-solving, leadership and work ethic — vital to successful collaboration in the workplace. Most chapters include questions for consideration and suggestions for action.
Any inmate who completes the program is eligible to receive 30 days off his or her sentence. The hope is inmates are better equipped to re-enter the workforce and prosper, Girdler said.
Coker says his re-entry curriculum is built off a common theme: People who buy on emotion and justify with facts.
“Ex-offenders are not going to be hired based on the facts,” Coker said. “Employers are naturally and historically apprehensive about hiring someone with a criminal background. But, if an ex-offender can connect emotionally and in a deep and visceral way, employers will find a way to make employment a possibility. We make these connections a reality.”
McCollum believes this re-entry program will serve as a model for other communities.
“People will look at Pulaski County and say, ‘They have it going in the right direction,’” McCollum said. “The Pulaski County Detention Center is honored to be a partner in this endeavor. We are committed to improving the workforce in Pulaski County and the lives of inmates.”
Girdler said SPEDA is actively looking for ways to integrate technical training and job search opportunities to inmates as well. Somerset Community College’s workforce development program will be involved in implementing these programs at the detention center in the future.
“I’m proud that Somerset Community College is collaborating with SPEDA, the Pulaski County Detention Center and Greg Coker Development to create a program in Pulaski County that helps minimize recidivism, provides both soft and technical skills training to incarcerated residents, and provides a new workforce source for our local community, business and industry,” said Carey Castle, president and CEO of SCC. “Education can be a gateway to social and economic mobility and education can improve outcomes from one generation to the next.”
Supporting programs like these are crucial to supporting the community, Girdler said.
“We owe it to society to help with inmate re-entry and helping to turn around the lives of our fellow citizens,” he said.