From College Bookstore to Career Center

What was for years Northern Essex Community College’s bookstore is now the home of the ValleyWorks Career Center’s Haverhill Office.

NECC President Lane Glenn opened the center Tuesday, Nov. 18 with a story illustrating why the partnership between the college and the career center make perfect sense. On his way to the Hartleb Technology Center for the opening program, Glenn said he stopped by the career center and happened to meet a job-seeking client named “Tiffany.”  When he introduced himself, “Tiffany” shared how excited she is about recent assessment tests that show she has an aptitude for math. “Tiffany” said she is now considering a career in accounting and is very interested in Northern Essex’s accounting program.

“Education is an option for many job seekers, and having the center located on our campus makes it easier for them to explore what Northern Essex has to offer,” he said.  “I’m very glad you are here as neighbors and partners.”

When ValleyWorks announced in 2013 they would be closing the Haverhill location, on Merrimack Street, due to budget cuts, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini pulled together a group including representatives from the college, the Workforce Investment Board, and ValleyWorks.  “I knew we had to do something,” he said.

That’s when the partnership was born. The college was planning to move its bookstore, and would have space available on the first floor of the Behrakis One Stop Student Center but that space wouldn’t be available until the spring.  In the short term, ValleyWorks offered limited services from space in the Hartleb Technology Center.

Rafael Abislaiman, executive director of the Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, said that co-locating community colleges with career centers is a national model that works.  “I can’t imagine anything a better way to help people when they lose their job than to help them get the skills they need to apply for a new and even better one.”

The ValleyWorks Career Center is a one-stop career center, providing a wide range of services to job seekers and businesses in the Merrimack Valley.  In addition to the Haverhill site, Valley Works has a Lawrence site, located at 439 South Union St.

In addition to Glenn, Abislaiman and Fiorentini, speakers at the event included Jennifer James, undersecretary of workforce development, state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development; Alice Sweeney, director for Department of Career Services, and Arthur Chilingirian, executive director of ValleyWorks Career Center.

As part of the opening, the resource room in the new career center was dedicated to the memory of Ron DiNicola, the former manager of the Haverhill ValleyWorks, who died soon after retiring 2012. The plaque which was unveiled at the ceremony and will be placed in the resource room reads “inspiring leader, mentor, and friend to all.”

To learn more about the ValleyWorks Career Center, visit the website