Below are links to the New England Cable News video segment aired last night (May 12, 2008) and Monday's (May 12, 2008) Boston Herald article. One stop career training for CVS Caremark Click here to play video (Peter Howe, NECN) - At the Jewish Vocational Service in Boston, a non-sectarian job-training center, there are lots of classrooms. The real CVS store is just one of the rooms. It is a full CVS store compressed into about 1,000 square feet. CVS Caremark recently opened the mock store at the JVS one-stop career-training center. It is the first in New England and a true-to-life training lab for working cash registers, restocking shelves, running the photo lab or working in the pharmacy. It is stocked with $20,000 worth of real inventory. All of the products are real, although you can't buy anything because it is all for training purposes. JVS runs several programs training people for jobs at hotels, hospitals, and other businesses - over 14,000 trainees a year, people who speak 40 languages. About 100 job trainees come here each week because it is more fun than a typical classroom. CVS executives love getting employees at dozens of stores all trained in a similar, consistent way. Team up for job training CVS, vocational center partner on retail effort By Paul Restuccia | Monday, May 12, 2008 | http://www.bostonherald.com | Business & Markets Click here for online article Above: Imranali Shaikh, from India, practices on the company's software. Inside a third-floor office in a building just off the Boston Common, there's a fully stocked and staffed CVS pharmacy/store - except there's nothing for sale. This is not something out of "The Twilight Zone." The mock CVS is actually a newly opened corporate training center within the offices of Jewish Vocational Service, one of the state's largest regional job centers. It's called the Boston Regional Learning Center, a partnership between JVS and CVS Caremark to help people get jobs and build careers at the pharmacy giant. It houses not only the store - complete with a pharmacy, photo lab and beauty department - but also classrooms and an 11-person training staff. "This is a unique partnership between one of the largest retailers and one of the largest work force training centers in the state," says JVS President and CEO Jerry Rubin. "It will allow people to achieve family sustainability and begin retail careers." Rubin says JVS is working with CVS on career-ladder programs and they are also partnering to create Lifelong Learning Accounts, a company-matched personal savings account to help workers save money for college. JVS' role will be to bring job candidates to CVS, many of whom will be enrolled in welfare-to-work programs or are recent refugees or arrivals such as Imranali Shaikh, from India, who is at the center to get training as a cashier. The first-year goal is for CVS to hire at least 50 JVS clients. JVS plans to refer candidates to CVS from its one-stop job center called The Workplace, which is open to the general public and serves 7,000 clients per year. Other CVS candidates will come from programs offered through the Department of Transitional Assistance and job-placement efforts targeted at recent refugees and the disabled. "We will refer candidates who have good English-speaking and customer-service skills, who present well, and who want to build a career in retail," says Erin Flynn-Blair, chief operating officer of JVS. The aim is to train 3,000 new and current CVS employees this year in the new Boston center. In addition to new hires, employees in about 150 CVS stores in the Boston area will also get additional training at the new center. "It's like playing store," says Kathryn Stone, a 17-year-old Wilmington resident who is training to become a pharmacy services associate at CVS in Wilmington and is going to Northeastern University this fall to study pharmacy. "You learn the register and how to handle all kinds of situations. It's the same environment as the store but without the pressure." Sara MacLean from Everett has just finished pharmacy tech training and is at the new mock store to get her CVS orientation. "I'm surprised at the number of staff they have here," says MacLean. "It's very real, but more relaxed. You can make a mistake and try again." Their CVS trainer, 22-year-old Ronnie Cox, says Stone and MacLean "will learn how to fill prescriptions from start to finish," practicing on specialized pharmacy software, and will also get up to speed on company policies on everything from sexual harassment to theft prevention. Vanessa Pino of Lowell, who is training as a cashier at the center and eventually wants to become a shift supervisor, says she's not only learning about things such as refunds, exchanges, rain checks and age-restricted products but trainers pretend to be angry customers. "You learn how to handle everything," says Pino. "I can't wait to start work in a real store." CVS has eight other regional learning centers around the country. Out of these centers, CVS has hired 60,000 people who were on public assistance since 1999, according to Mike Ferdinandi, senior vice president of human resources, corporate communications and community relations at CVS Caremark. "We can bring people in at an entry level and help them build careers here," said Ferdinandi. "With these one-stop centers we always have a pipeline of talent ready to go." The regional learning centers are the brainchild of Ernie DuPont, CVS Caremark's director of workforce development, whose team devised the mock store training concept in 1998. Some centers, such as the one in Detroit, are partnered with community colleges and others, such as those in Washington, D.C., work directly with the federal Department of Labor, AARP and National Council on Aging. The Boston center came out of discussions with JVS' national office. "These centers not only allow us to meet our own training needs, but they allow us to hire people that reflect the communities we serve," DuPont says. "We can reach out to a diverse group of candidates - get good, qualified people who will stay with us." DuPont says job candidates who go through the regional learning centers have a 60 percent retention rate, which is double the normal rate. Ferdinandi adds that of these 60 percent retained, each worker has been promoted an average of twice. "The regional learning centers have been a successful model around the country for bringing in a diverse work force," said CVS Caremark regional manager Bob Quinn. "And many of the people we hire can better serve immigrant populations because they can speak their languages." CVS is staffing the Boston center with three full-time and eight part-time employees, who do everything from a two-day training of cashiers to six-month pharmacy tech training. Boston center CVS trainer Jessica Jewett says training in the mock store is a huge improvement from the days when she held five-week manager training in CVS store basements. "It's made my job more fun and the training in the mock store is more interactive," Jewett says. "You can simulate almost every scenario." Rick Lafferiere, manager of the Boston Regional Learning Center, says another big benefit of a regional training center is the consistency of the training. "Instead of 150 stores giving different messages, we give one message," Lafferiere says. "There are no lapses in training here. It's all by the book. And we get better- trained people in our work force as a result. "A lot of training used to occur in a live in-store environment where the trainer gets distracted. And training here takes the work off the store managers' plates." Ferdinandi says CVS employees who begin as cashiers can start moving up the ladder within two to three years on several different career tracks - to become a pharmacy tech, which takes six months of training, or move into store management. Flynn-Blair says that CVS has done a lot of work around career ladders, tracking workers' career paths and making sure that existing employees can move up within the organization. "We're really excited to have this center here in Boston," says JVS' Flynn-Blair. "CVS will be the centerpiece of our retail jobs effort."