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By Marcus Estes, Barbara Hicks and Misty Vowell, Mississippi Department of Employment Security

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) is a federally funded state agency that provides an array of services through WIN Job Centers located throughout the state.  The WIN Job Centers offer convenient, one stop employment and training services to employers and job seekers.  WIN Job Centers also pay unemployment insurance to workers who lost their jobs.  The Labor Market Information Department gathers and disseminates labor force data used by private industry and public agencies for planning and resource allocation. 

MDES provides services not only through its 53 WIN Job Centers but also through its E-WIN Access Points. The purpose of the E-WIN Access Points program is to establish an alternative convenient site for job seekers to perform a job search without visiting their local WIN Job Centers.  E-WIN Access Points are strategically located throughout the state in both faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs).

 

Examples of faith-based organizations could include but are not limited to local places of worship, church administrative offices and/or family life centers, regional offices of various religious groups, etc.

 

Community organizations may include but are not limited to libraries, community centers, city halls, schools, county courthouses, chambers of commerce, volunteer fire stations, urban leagues, charitable organizations, community action organizations and rural assistance centers.

 

E-WIN Access Points will target high-poverty, Limited English Proficiency, and other high-need populations to increase the access of job seekers to workforce systems. Currently there are seventeen E-WIN Access Points across the state of which eight are located in public libraries.

 

 

On July 19, 2010, ETA hosted a Webinar on effective workforce-library partnerships.  We had presenters from ETA, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the State of Illinois and Jefferson County, Colorado.  This Webinar was a part of the partnership between ETA and IMLS, dedicated to spreading the examples of partnership between the workforce system and libraries.  Please see the presentation, recording, and transcript at http://www.workforce3one.org/view/5001019044924479529/info

By Linda Strong, JobLink Unit Manager, North Carolina Division of Workforce Development, and Mary L. Boone, State Librarian, North Carolina

 

North Carolina has been very successful in its library and workforce development partnership, and the key to that success has been a state-level collaboration fully supported by North Carolina’s Governor Beverly Perdue.

The partnership between the North Carolina workforce development system and public libraries began last year when the Secretary of Cultural Resources saw newspaper reports on how libraries were being affected by the economy and asked the question “Can’t we do something to help them?”  The Secretary tasked the NC State Librarian to create a program of Job Search Workshops to support public library staff in addressing the needs of job seekers in their libraries.    The Department of Commerce and the Employment Security Commission were identified as important partners and were asked to participate in the Job Search Workshops.  The Department of Commerce’s Division of Workforce Development (DWD) and the Employment Security Commission (ESC) had a commitment to address the increased demand on the workforce development system, and this project was viewed as a valuable opportunity to expand capacity of local communities to meet the workforce needs of their residents.  The DWD and ESC work together in implementing the NC JobLink Career Center (One-Stop) system, so they established the connection with existing workforce development partners and resources throughout the state.  

 

The Job Search Workshops were presented jointly by State Library staff and local JLCC staff in March 2009.  The workshops provided an opportunity for library staff to gain a working knowledge of multiple job search resources as well as to obtain the necessary skills to connect the job seeker with the appropriate resource. Workforce staff provided an overview of the JobLink services and shared information on how local libraries could partner with their local JobLink Career Centers (JLCCs). 

 

The content focused on an organized collection of online and print resources that addressed the challenges of job loss and needs of dislocated workers in NC communities. Job Search Workshops were presented to 296 public library staff from 66 of NC’s 77 public library systems and two community college libraries.  Workshop content was divided into three topic areas:  Getting Started; Where to Find Jobs; and What to Prepare.  Insightful dialogue followed with participants sharing their reviews and discovering many new ways to help library patrons in their job searches.  Participants were able to engage in discussion with the workforce development experts regarding some of the employment challenges experienced by their respective library customers.  Today, local library and workforce partnerships exist in communities all over the state.


The NC experience has yielded national recognition.  NC DWD and State Library staff participated in the April 2010 National Governors Association (NGA) conference call with state workforce liaisons and again in the June 2010 press announcement of the new partnership between the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), designed to help job seekers access employment and training services in public libraries. 

Caption: Left to right are NC JobLink Unit Manager Linda Strong, ETA Assistant Secretary Jane Oates, IMLS Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel, and NC State Librarian Mary L. Boone.

It is a great pleasure to join in this partnership with the Department of Labor. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries (including school, academic, research and public libraries) and 17,500 museums. We are primarily a grant-making agency and we have a strong and growing policy and research focus.
 
During the past ten years, thanks to support from IMLS, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, state and local funding, the e-rate, and resourceful librarians, more than 99 per cent of public libraries offer free access to the Internet. Wherever you are, large city or small town, your library and librarian will help guide you to the information resources you need.
 
Library service has been transformed by the accessibility to new technologies and by professionals trained to handle the public’s information-seeking and information-understanding needs. And the public has responded: library visits (over the past ten years) have increased more than 20 percent—to 1.7 billion in 2008.

Libraries can be the “on ramp” to one-stop services. Collaborations with libraries help the public workforce system by offering trusted welcoming community spaces with free internet access, meeting rooms, data-base resources for career training and job seekers, convenient hours and locations, and librarians trained as knowledgeable information navigators.
 
IMLS has very strong relationships with state library administrative agencies. In every state, there is a state librarian and although they wear a variety of hats and are situated within state government in many different ways, they have two things in common. All of them are responsible for library development in their states and all of them administer federal funds from IMLS. If you ever have a question about how to work with libraries in your state – the state librarian is your “go to” person. IMLS has contact information for every state librarian on its website at www.imls.gov/programs/libraries.shtm.

The IMLS web site features many links to employment-related resources developed by libraries, often in partnership with the public workforce system. It also includes a series of podcasts with state librarians who are working with public libraries to facilitate these important connections. See www.imls.gov/about/workforce.shtm.
 
Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries, a study we supported together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, reports that:
  • More than 77 million people over the age of 14 used a library computer last year.
  • 30 million people used library computers to help address career and employment needs.
  • Among these users, 76 percent reported that they searched for jobs online.
  • Among job seekers, 68 percent went on to apply for a job or submit a resume.
  • 23 percent used library computers to receive job-related training.
  • 3.7 million people reported finding work using a library computer.
 These data show that libraries are already in the workforce-development business, and we believe that this collaboration with the Department of Labor will benefit not only our agencies and our institutions, but, more importantly, the American people.

--Mary Chute, Deputy Director for Libraries
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Greetings from the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals. The Recovery Act provided an unprecedented opportunity for states and local areas to invest in the professional development of One-Stop employees who are on the frontlines of reemployment services. Building the capacity of front-line staff to serve the unemployed and develop their own careers is an investment that will pay off over the long term. As the demands of today’s businesses and job seekers increase, it is critically important that the workforce development profession continue to evolve.  That means that we, as professionals in this field, need to continuously update our skills in order to meet the changing needs of our customers and to develop our own career pathways within the system. 

 

When customers come to a One-Stop Career Center, one of the first things that frontline staff do is to assess their skills and abilities.  They help them identify the best path to achieve re-employment and self sufficiency.  One Stop staff encourage the unemployed to create a career plans, take the necessary training to remain current with their particular field of interest, and obtain an industry-recognized  credential as a way to remain viable in a shaky economy. But what about the One Stop staff themselves? Where is the system’s dedication to creating our career pathways?  While it is easy to use overwhelming workloads as a reason to not invest in our staff, the fact remains that it is imperative that the workforce system takes its own advice.   

 

Whether you choose the nationally-recognized Certified Workforce Development Professional (CWDP) credential administered by NAWDP or one of the other credentials out there – now is the time to encourage your staff to highlight their professionalism and commitment to lifelong learning. Now is the time to think about investing those remaining ARRA RES funds in some frontline staff professional development options that exist out there. Believe me, your staff will thank you for it, and will be more engaged and proactive in their duties, because they will know you care as much about their careers as you do about the customers.

 

For frontline staff, now is the time to make the commitment to ourselves,  to our employers and our customers, to continuously update and enhance our skills by attending local workshops, national conferences, or even simply reviewing the valuable information that is posted on this site.  The bottom line is without our nation’s highly trained and highly skilled workforce development professionals – there will be no quality in our nation’s workforce development system.  And, where will that leave our customers?

 

 

 

 

 

Through the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, Wisconsin Job Service has significantly expanded and enhanced the Re-employment Services (RES) program. With the hiring of 50 new staff we have been able to expand our RES services beyond our 22 Comprehensive job centers to over 65 locations. This type of growth has allowed us to serve more customers throughout the state, making our programs and services more accessible to the citizens of Wisconsin.  We also provided a comprehensive 3 day training for these new staff in July, 2009.

 

  Job Service has increased the number of RES sessions from 10 per week (serving 150 claimants) to 80 RES sessions per week (serving 900 claimants). Since July, 2009 we have been able to serve over 35,000 customers, with 80% of attendees being referred to other services and programs within the Job Center.

 

Part of the requirement for RES is that each participant posts a profile on JobCenterofWisconsin.com, completes an RES intake form and participate in a three-hour workshop.  Following the presentation, each job seeker participates in a one-on-one session with an RES staff person who assesses their job seeking process and refers them down one of three paths:

 

?      Work Ready Path,

?      Referral Path, or

?      Employment Counseling Path.

 

In an effort to better prepare our customers for a quick entry to employment we have invested significant resources in the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC). By partnering with ACT, Inc we are making major strides in helping customers become work ready. All RES customers are provided the opportunity to obtain their National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).

 

 

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