Chelsea Collaborative staff members are busy
helping residents prepare for rewarding career opportunities at Encore Boston
Harbor, slated to open in Everett this June. Encore Boston Harbor, the
first five-star urban gaming resort in the U.S, plans to hire over 5,000
workers for a range of rewarding hospitality careers. For more information,
More than 175 career-seekers participated in
workshops in recent weeks alone on resume writing and how to create a
Skillsmart profile. Skillsmart is a portal that helps match peoples’ interests
with positions at Encore Boston Harbor. “We are proud to create pathways
to better paying positions, so our residents can achieve better economic
mobility, and don’t have to work two jobs just to make ends meet for them and
their families,” said Sylvia Ramirez, Workforce Development Manager at Chelsea
Chelsea Collaborative is part of Encore
Boston Harbor’s community action network. Encore Boston Harbor is
committing $10 million over the next four years to support a wide range of
social programs and civic institutions that will help those in need and improve
the lives of residents in local communities.
Collaborative is leading the Chelsea 500 coalition, which mission is to engage
the City, businesses, and local non-profits to create a workforce pipeline so
that 500+ residents can gain the skills and support necessary to apply for
positions at Encore Boston Harbor. While Chelsea 500 capitalizes on the
casino opening, its longer- term ambition is to build local workforce
development capacity to improve Chelsea residents’ odds of securing employment
in the near term, and to work with industry leaders to help diversify the
employment options. Members of the coalition include City of
Chelsea, Chelsea Collaborative, TND/Connect, Chelsea Housing
Authority, Chelsea Recreation and Cultural Affairs Division, Bunker
Hill Community College, Casino Action Network.
As Melissa Perez has watched the Encore
Boston Harbor casino get taller and taller, she never dreamed she might work
there one day.
On Monday, Perez, 26, stood with a smile
from ear to ear at the Encore Job Fair in the Hynes Convention Center, reveling
in the good news that she likely would be hired as a pastry chef.
“I knew it would bring a lot of employment
opportunities for a lot of people,” she said. “I voted for it thinking about
the future. Now they are wanting to hire 5,000 people here at this fair. That’s
a really big number to think about. I was all for it from the beginning, and it
feels really, really good to think I have a good chance to be part of it. I’m
excited to see what they have in store.”
Perez was one of thousands of potential
employees, particularly from Everett, Charlestown, Chelsea and Malden, that
flooded the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay last Sunday and Monday
looking for possible employment at the casino – which is offering some 5,000
jobs in 500 different categories, and they’re jobs that need to be filled and
ready by the June 23 opening date.
Perez’s enthusiasm was shared by many, and
Encore President Bob DeSalvio said that the long-promised job opportunities
have now become reality.
“The message is, it worked,” he said on
Monday. “I was extremely impressed by the quality of applicants we saw on
Sunday. We saw so many people from Everett, Chelsea, Charlestown, Boston,
Medford and Malden. So many people had hoped to get an opportunity, and to see
it become a reality now is really impressive. All the planning meetings and all
the information for years that we’ve put out, it became real.”
DeSalvio said they had concerns of whether
they could find the right people in the right numbers, but he said after this
first fair, he no longer is so concerned. Many of the people they interviewed,
he said, were already employed.
“I think what we’re seeing is folks looking
to trade up,” he said. “Every single person I interviewed Sunday was already
employed. There was a few who were in between jobs or had been laid off, but
most of the folks I saw were already in a job and looking for their next
Like Perez, DeSalvio said applicants from
the Everett and Chelsea communities were interested in being closer to home.
“The people I spoke to were very happy about
a shorter commute,” he said. “Commuting has been a very big deal for people
trying to get time for their family and their lives. They liked the idea of the
bus lane and getting jobs where they could be close and take the bus to work.”
DeSalvio said they interviewed for nearly
every position, from hotel workers to food and beverage workers to banquet
supervisors to finance positions.
In the area of finance, DeSalvio said he was
surprised by the vast numbers of folks looking for an opportunity with Encore.
“We had an exceptional turnout for
accountants (and finance),” he said, noting that they had many from the banking
industry show up for their openings.
He said they were also just looking for
talented people – even if they weren’t right for the job they wanted, DeSalvio
said they wouldn’t let them slip away.
“We’re trying not to let really good
candidates slip out the door,” he said. “If the job they are looking for isn’t
right, we can shift them to other similar areas.”
The job fair was the first of three that are
planned for the Hynes, and the usual Encore energy was transferred to the Back
Bay facility from the first step inside.
Applicants were greeted at the front lobby
of the main hall to check in or register if they were walk-ins. If one did not
have a resume printed or created, there were places on hand to get that done
before going inside.
Once inside, pulsating music sounded from a
live DJ in one of the back waiting rooms, while candidates registered and got
their number for the initial interview. After that process, they progressed to
a waiting room with comfortable couches, the live DJ, a dance floor and fresh
flowers. It was there they waited for their specific job interviews – with the
DJ calling their number over the music when it was time for them to interview.
Encore didn’t hire any special company to do
the interviews, but rather they had all hands on deck, with current employees –
including DeSalvio – handling the interview processes. Current employees from
food and beverage interviewed prospective candidates from those areas.
If all went well, candidates could leave
with a good assurance that they would be hired – though no jobs were given on
DeSalvio said they already have 400
employees on board, and they have another 1,100 that are already in the queue.
“We need about another 3,500 and we saw
2,100 people on Sunday,” he said. “I think we’ll do quite well on Monday too.
Based on the numbers of applicants we’ve seen, it tells me we can get there. As
long as we keep up this pace at the other hiring events.”
He also added they have been very pleased
with the success of the dealer school at Cambridge College in Charlestown. They
have about 150 that have graduated and the next session is full already.
“That’s going to be 300 folks that will have
gone through and be ready for employment as a dealer on day one,” he said.
“That is excellent. The instructors tell me they are quality students. They are
learning the game and infusing the culture of the company too…It’s not just the
mechanics of the game, but how we treat our guests.”
From the point of hiring, those who are
“onboarded” will have a series of licenses from the state or qualifications to
get through. Once that is done, they will begin reporting for their jobs in
late May and early June – with some of the culinary positions starting in late
DeSalvio said they will go through extensive
on-site training because things have to be perfect when they open. While there
will always be mistakes, at the five-star level, a resort has to be top quality
on day one.
“I has to be ready,” he said. “That’s one
reason we bring folks on so early.”
Encore plans to
have another large hiring event at the Hynes Convention Center in mid-March.
The Chelsea 500 Committee, consisting of local organizations such as the Chelsea Collaborative, TND, the Chelsea Housing Authority, the Chelsea Recreation and Cultural Affairs Division, and Bunker Hill Community College, will hold a Career Fair on Dec. 14 at Chelsea City Hall.
The newly formed committee is working collectively to create a jobs pathway for Chelsea residents with Encore Boston Harbor, the $2.6 billion casino and resort that will open in June, 2019, in Everett.
The committee is working on holding jobs pipeline information sessions, career readiness workshops, case management, interview skills workshops, ESL, computer classes and much more. All members of the community interested in working at Encore Boston Harbor are encouraged to participate in the various workshops and classes.
The “500” portion of the Chelsea 500 Committee’s name represents the committee’s hopes to create a workforce pipeline so that 500 or more residents can gain the skills and support necessary to apply for positions at Encore Boston Harbor.
While Chelsea 500 focuses on the opening of the casino, its longer-term ambition is to build a local workforce development capacity, along with advocacy and job readiness services, to improve Chelsea residents’ chances of securing employment in the near term. Building relationships with businesses in other hospitality-related industries is another goal for the committee.
Chelsea 500 will collaborate with the Casino Action Network, One Everett, Somerville, Boston, and the MassHire Metro North Workforce Board.
(Chelsea 500, MassHire and Encore Boston Harbor will host an information session on Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Mary C. Burke Complex. For more information, please call Sylvia Ramirez at 617-889-6080).
Now that the Encore casino tower has come into full view of Everett, it’s time to learn how to deal a good hand.
Encore Boston Harbor, Cambridge College in Charlestown and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) announced this week that they will begin the first session of ‘Dealer School’ at Cambridge College in early September, focusing on teaching dealer basics, Blackjack games and Poker games. In coming years, they will also offer training on other games such as roulette and craps.
The collaboration is known as the Greater Boston Gaming Career Institute and is long in the making, debuting now as Encore begins ramping up for the hiring of 1,100 dealers to fill out its gaming staff. Hirings will take place next spring, and it is expected that two full sessions of the Dealer School will be completed by the Encore opening on June 24, 2019.
Classes will start on Sept. 17, and the cost is $700. However, residents of Everett, Malden, Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea and Medford will have the opportunity to win scholarships that will make it free. The deadline to submit applications for scholarships is Sept. 10.
“We have been talking with Cambridge College for a number of months about this and it has worked out well,” said John. “The space is 2,500 sq. ft. and it will hold about 80 students per classroom. They will have three sessions per day.”
The sessions will run Monday to Thursday, with sessions at 8 a.m. to noon; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. A student is expected to stay in their time slot once they start.
The Blackjack training will last nine weeks and the poker training will last 14 weeks.
There will also be a weekend session that only offers Blackjack training all day Saturday and Sunday for nine weeks.
Doug Williams, vice president of table games, Gary Hager, director of poker operations, and John all said that the Dealer School is a great opportunity to be ready when Encore ramps up to hire gaming staff next year. If one does get hired, it can mean a starting salary of $60,000 for a full-time job, plus benefits.
“This could be transformational for certain people,” said John. “In a matter of months for a 16-hour commitment and flexible times, you can begin a new career that starts at $60,000 for full-time work. It’s a chance for you to earn good money and have a career for the rest of your life. This isn’t for someone who likes to play cards and wants to do something fun. This is for someone really looking to make a career change.”
Said Williams, “It’s also a good avenue for someone who isn’t going to college or doesn’t want to go to college now. It’s a career you can take with you for the rest of your life. There aren’t many instances in a major metropolitan area where a new industry just pops up and you can get in on it.”
Added Hager, “When these kinds of jobs open up on the strip in Las Vegas, they don’t stay open long. These are good opportunities and this is getting in on the ground floor here.”
Those enrolled in the school will practice hands-on training, being taught by five former Encore dealers who will teach them all aspects of how to deal and oversee a good game. More than that, they will teach them the basics of being a dealer. That includes how to let people enjoy themselves and how to show off a good personality that will enhance the customer experience.
Basic requirements are that one have an 8th grade level of math competency; be 18 or older; be willing to work weekends, holidays and off hours; and have a great personality.
“The personality is very important,” said Williams. “We hear all the time it’s not whether a customer wins or loses that determines whether they had a great time, but it’s the interaction they have with the dealer. They may enjoy themselves more because you are they’re preferred dealer or you become their lucky dealer. You can go a long way here with a winning personality.”
John said, however, there is no guarantee that anyone who completes the Dealer School would be hired, but they would have preferred status.
“Honestly, we don’t know if they will definitely be hired by Encore,” he said. “It’s the first time we’re doing this. Obviously though, if you get through the program, you’ll have preferential status and you’ll be the first person we look to when we’re hiring.”
The full information about scholarships and enrollment in the Dealer School can be found at www.BetOnU.com.
Once again, classes for the first session start on Sept. 17.
Encore Boston Harbor and the Chelsea Collaborative started the first of many monthly job fairs last Thursday, Aug. 2, at the Collaborative’s Broadway headquarters.
The Collaborative’s Sylvia Ramirez said they want to make sure Chelsea residents can benefit from the 4,000 full-time casino jobs that are coming in June 2019, and time is of the essence.
She said Encore will begin coming to the Collaborative to discuss and assist potential applicants with the process. The first such meeting came last Thursday, and Ramirez said the next one will be Aug. 30.
“The Collaborative has a workforce development department and we are trying to forge partnerships for financial sustainability and better jobs,” she said. “We are collaborating with businesses around the community. It also has a lot to do with the casino. We want to teach career readiness so they can be prepared when the jobs come down the pipeline.”
Ramirez said the casino is going to affect Chelsea as much as it will Everett and Charlestown, and with that in mind, she said residents should be ready for the jobs that will be coming very soon. She also said Chelsea is falling behind, and now is the time to get ahold of the opportunities.
“This is the beginning of the conversation,” she said. “I don’t want to be behind on this. I think Everett is so far ahead of us with the Everett United organization. We need a coalition as well. We don’t know what it’s called, but we need to set goals and metrics to advocate for our Chelsea residents. Everett doesn’t have 4,500 people available to hire.”
By bringing in representatives from Encore once a month, Ramirez said it ensures that the company will commit to Chelsea. The city does have preference in line with Boston and Cambridge. Only Everett and Malden come ahead of Chelsea.
“We want to make sure they really commit to us and give some opportunities to our people. Just because some of our people in Chelsea have limited language, it doesn’t mean they can’t do a job there.”
Representatives from Encore will be able to help residents one-on-one in English and Spanish. They will be able to define the jobs that are available and what one needs to do to qualify for those jobs. Likewise, they will be discussing the new “dealer school” that is about to start at Cambridge College in Charlestown. The six-week course will begin in the fall, with applications coming soon.
Meanwhile, Ramirez said the casino jobs Ð whether in the gaming area or in non-gaming functions Ð can provide a better income to help solve the rising housing costs in the city.
“Anyone who lives in Chelsea, they pay $1,500 in rent now and they’ll likely be paying $2,500 in the next few years,” she said. “ How can they keep up? They need to stay in the city and have jobs like these that pay well.”
Facing a do-or-die situation for the completion of major off-site roadwork this summer, and a slower-than-expected work schedule on an Eversource project, Encore Boston Harbor and the City of Everett have announced on Tuesday the areas of Beacham, Dexter and Robin Streets will basically be closed off from Aug. 8 through October.
The change will likely have much more dire consequences for Chelsea than for Everett, as the roadway in and out of the New England Produce Center will be shut down for all intents and purposes. Beyond that, cab traffic from the airport will also be diverted away from the normal route through Beacham Street.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they’ll have to take a wait and see approach in the coming weeks to figure out the proper response.
“It’s just hard to say what the impact will be,” he said. “Given the Second Street alternative (for the Produce Center), I’m hoping the impact is not too substantial. But, we will have to wait and see.”
Chief Brian Kyes said the Police Department would employ its message boards around the city to inform people of the sudden change.
Many had hoped that the work could get done side-by-side, and by making the Eversource transmission line project and the Encore traffic project a dual project Ð it could bring down the pain associated with so much construction work in one small location.
However, that ended up not happening, said Everett Planner Jay Monti, who indicated that Eversource moved too slow on their project. That, in turn, has put things in jeopardy for the casino to get its work done before the end of the outdoor construction season Ð which closes in early November when the asphalt plants shut down.
“Due to delays in permitting and obstructions on the road, Eversource has gotten behind schedule to the point it’s going to threaten Encore in getting its [off-site] roadwork done and without that work they can’t open the casino next year. We’re up against a wall and the only way to get it to work is to go 24 hours a day and essentially shut down the roadsÉThings got critical last week and Eversource was just not making progress. Encore came to us and said they can’t wait any longer. They can’t risk not opening up the casino on time because of the Eversource project running behind.”
The shut-down began Aug. 8, and will run for about 10 weeks into October so that Eversource can work around the clock, three shifts, to get their work in the area done and move on to Chelsea and East Boston. Following that, the shutdown will allow Encore to work around the clock to get the work done that has been held up due to Eversource running behind.
Monti said the corridor will be open to pedestrians and bicycles during the 10-week shutdown. To be clear, though, the roads will be open for drivers, but it will be more than difficult to get through at all hours of the day. So, they are suggesting people use other ways to get places like the airport, the Produce Center and other areas. “For all intents and purposes, it’s closed because anyone who goes down there will sit in traffic for three hours,” he said. “We want to send a message to people who use that corridor. If you’re a cabbie going to or coming from the airport, you have to take the Tobin and pay the toll. If you’re a delivery driver for Amazon, we don’t want you in that area because this work needs to get done. If you’re a driver for the Produce Center, we encourage you to take Rt. 16 and Second Street into Chelsea.”