PORTSMOUTH@WORK Career Resources Are Pathway to a Better Life

Portsmouth’s Office of Economic Development is Building A Skilled Pipeline of Workers Ready for the Jobs of the Future

by Brandy Centolanza

Since April 2023, as Manager of Workforce Development with the City's Workforce Development Office, Nahla Saleh has been working to help individuals obtain a better way of life through fulfilling employment. Saleh oversees the initiatives offered through the Portsmouth@Work career training and job readiness program which is under the Portsmouth Economic Development department.

The program offers training and resources to help the citizens of Portsmouth and others in the region find the job that’s a perfect fit. In-person training is available to assist with job readiness, skill-building, college or vocational certification, career counseling, job placement, and job retention. Portsmouth@Work hosts monthly classes and other learning and networking opportunities like resume building workshops and hiring events for job seekers.

“The main goal is to help residents not only gain employment but to also offer them resources and training that equips them to land a better job, which will lead to a better quality of life,” Saleh says.

Later this spring, Saleh’s office is slated to launch a pilot program geared toward helping previously incarcerated individuals get back on their feet, whether they have been recently released or have been out of lockup for years. Services of the boot-camp style re-entry program will include training in communication and other soft skills, resume building, mock job interviews, health screenings, expert speakers, mentorships, and more.

“We want to provide them with as many services as possible,” Saleh says. “There is a need for more one-on-one intensive services. Often individuals know what they need to do, but they don’t know how to do it. There will be a chance for them to connect with peer mentors which is really important.”

Portsmouth’s Workforce Development also helps young adults with securing employment through the YouthBuild program. The program provides individuals 18 to 24 who are not enrolled in school, with assistance to earn their GED, as well as training to become certified in a skilled trade.

Also this spring, Saleh’s department will host career tour events with local businesses for the City’s high school Career & Technical Education students, as well as a hiring event for those who will be graduating and entering the workforce. Six businesses will be partners in the three-day career tours for students: Elizabeth Rivers Crossings OpCo, Collins Machine Works, Hampton Roads Community Health Center, The Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Cintas, and Linx Industries.

“We want to expose students to the job opportunities that are available in Portsmouth,” she says. “There are endless opportunities here. There are a lot of hidden gems that many students may not know are right here in Portsmouth.”

Additionally, for the first time, Portsmouth is collaborating with Norfolk, Hampton Roads Workforce Council and Tidewater Community College on a series of hiring expos for job seekers. The next event will be held from 10am to 2pm on Thursday, Feb. 15, at the TCC Portsmouth Student Center, 120 Campus Dr. More than 50 regional employers are expected to participate.

Saleh, a native of Chicago, has been in the workforce development space for seven years. She loves building relationships and working with local businesses to promote jobs and assist with retention. Eventually, she would like to offer additional services to help at-risk youth. But for now, the goal is to continue to bring awareness to the community about what the City’s Workforce Development Office does.

“I love working here,” she says. “I love working with residents who want a job, letting them know about the services and resources that are out there, hearing about the impact we have on their lives and seeing their excitement when they earn a certification, and are ready to explore what’s next for them.”

For more information on Portsmouth’s Workforce Development department, visit portsmouthatwork.com or call 757-393-8832.

Photo credit: Portsmouth Economic Development.Pictured Left to Right: Sonja Briggs, Workforce Development Specialist, Belinda Jones, Administrative Coordinator I, Nahla Saleh, Manager of Workforce Development

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept

Privacy & Cookies Policy