As the recession deepens, and jobs become scarce, many are taking advantage of job training and other resources at The Source of Northwest Ohio.
The Source is designed to streamline employment and training programs, help job seekers find work, and help employers find workers, according to Eric Walker, director of the Lucas County Workforce Development Agency, which administers the program.
“We have a variety of programs and services here,” said Walker. Within The Source are representatives of more than 20 different agencies and organizations dedicated to helping businesses find the right people and helping job seekers start or advance their careers.
Supported by federal funds, services at The Source are free to companies and individuals.
So what can the unemployed expect at The Source?
“We let people know, first of all, about unemployment benefits,” said Walker. “Then we talk about educational and training services. We have the Jump Start Initiative, and 12 different workshops and seminars here on a daily, weekly, and monthly rotation. You learn how to get an interview, how to dress for success, basic computers skills, career exploration, how to use the Internet, how to market yourself, how to fill out applications online, resume cover writing and critiquing.”
Job seekers can also learn about a new computerized job service, OhioMeansJobs.com, which is linked to Monster, a national jobs database. “We encourage people, once their resume is done, to upload it so they’re into the huge database where employers can find them online to hopefully call them in for interviews, and hopefully for employment,” he said.
There is something for people of all ages who are looking for employment, he said.
For people who are 50 and over, there is the 50 plus program, as well as Experience Works.
Workshops include identifying transferable skills.
Older workers, he said, have been in one industry or occupation, or have been in one particular sector, for a long time.
“Many times, those activities and responsibilities transfer to another industry, occupation or sector,” he said.
“We have a wide range and variety of services, from the 20-year-old to the 60 or 70-year-old. The employment sector is a competitive market these days. Many times, employers will take 60-year-olds before they take 16-year-olds because of the fact they have work maturity and experience. They have reliable transportation. They’re a little bit more flexible. But we try and work for everyone,” he said.
The Source operates under the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998, which is designed to streamline employment and training programs, help job seekers find work, and help employers find workers.
WIA is funded through the U.S. Department of Labor. The Lucas County Workforce Investment Board oversees WIA programs and services.
“The funding comes through the state to the board of county commissioners,” said Walker, who reports to the county administrator.
The programs are mostly free, he said.
“There may be some out-of-pocket costs. For dislocated workers, everything is definitely free and there’s no income requirement,” he said.
Educational funding, he said, is a bit different.
“We try and do as much as we can, but people are required to fill out financial aid applications at the educational providers we contract with. Then from there, we try to work as best we can for them. We offer up to $6,000 grants on a yearly basis that are free. The only requirement is that people have to choose a career occupation that’s in demand. It sometimes may be a little more, especially if they’re going into nursing. If you are looking at Lourdes or Mercy College, those programs are a little more expensive, than, say, truck driving, which is $3,600, and that’s easily covered through a variety of our different programs,” he said.
“We have contracts with 30-40 different educational institutions and proprietary schools, from Lourdes College, to Stautzenberger College, to Davis College, and Owens Community College,” he said.
Owens has a 12,000-square-foot learning center inside The Source.
“So there’s probably any number of arrangements that can be made or any number of courses that are available at any time,” he said. “They have everything from introduction to finance, to astronomy, to business law, to human resource management, computers, nursing, and public speaking. They have a variety of different offerings, and they’re open here Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.”
The Workforce Development Agency, among the 20 different organizations within The Source, has been very successful, he said.
“All of our partners contribute to our success. The Workforce Development Agency has been doing very good. We’re working with a smaller customer base or clientele. We work with 200-250 people going through training every year. We have 500 youth who are enrolled in our programs every year,” he said. “We were number one in the state for two years in terms of our placements, but obviously the economy has dropped off, so we were number two last year. I don’t know what it’s going to look like this year because unemployment has been running rampant at the moment.”
The Source won the State of Ohio’s Workforce Development Award for one-stop customer service in 2007. It also won the Veteran’s Services Team of the year award. There are more Certified Workforce Development Professionals as recognized by the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals, at The Source, than any other one-stop in Ohio, he said.
For more information, call The Source at 419-213-JOBS (5627). Its Web site can be accessed at www.thesourcenwo.com