John Hampe
There was a time when, if you worked for a company for five, ten years, you were pretty much guaranteed a job for life.

Those days are gone and there is no better indication of that than the current recession in which employees with years, sometimes decades, on the job, are being laid off.

The stimulus-funded National Emergency Grants (NEGs) were implemented to help those workers who lost their jobs because of mass layoffs or business closures, many of whom had been with their companies for a long, long time.

John Hampe is one of those people. He worked for DHL as a driver for 15 years But about a year and a half ago, Hampe along with hundreds of other workers was laid off. "Fifteen years seniority wasn't enough," said Hampe.

A requirement of his unemployment assistance was to check in at a career center. Hampe went to the Employment and Training Resources (ETR) branch in Norwood. ETR, which has branches in Marlborough and Newton, received $1.9 million in stimulus funds in three grants: $936K for dislocated workers; $752K for youth employment programs; and, $257K for the economically disadvantaged adult population.

Hampe's career counselor at ETR told him about the additional NEGs that the center

Jeffrey Simon, John Hampe and Dave Marden
received. These grants were designed to expand the service capacity of Workforce Investment Act training and employment programs by providing funding assistance when economic events cause significant job losses. ETR received a total of $7.1 million in NEGs to help those who were laid off by area companies in the financial industry and to cover nine employers in the Metro Central region who had experienced mass layoffs.

Hampe was covered under the Metro Central grant and his counselor thought he was a good candidate. "She asked me what my strengths were and I had to really think about it," he said. "In my industry, I worked in shipping, receiving and delivering packages every day and I worked with handheld computers. So I was proficient with Windows-based applications and I thought maybe I could go to school for Microsoft training to be a Microsoft-certified desktop technician."

Hampe put together a grant proposal, which involved talking to employers in the field and demonstrating why his retraining made sense. "It was a lot of legwork," he said.

But it was worth the effort. Hampe got a stimulus-funded NEG grant to go to New Horizons in Waltham. He attended from November, 2009 through April, 2009 and graduated with three certifications.

"After 22 years of being out of school, I was surprised I could do it," he said. "But I really wanted this and I knew at age 41 if I'm trying to get back to work, I needed to get into an industry that is growing. And the IT industry is growing." Hampe noted that the industry is supposed to grow about 60 percent over the next six years.

Employment and Training Resources group
Hampe didn't have a job when he graduated but his career counselor encouraged him to be proactive and volunteer in an organization that needed an IT technician to get practical experience. The Norwood ETR branch needed some IT help so Hampe stepped in, "not thinking anything would happen."

Four weeks later he was offered a full time job as an information technology coordinator with ETR. "Our IT manager was running ragged taking care of three centers and John was great," said Ellie Rose, the director of ETR. "We didn't want to lose him so we offered him a permanent position. It's working out really well."

Hampe agrees. "Mine is a great story," he said. "I was looking at the big picture and the resource center provided the grants and the guidance."