By LOU WILIN
It could be a win-win-win.
Win for employers needing good people for hard-to-fill jobs.
Win for those with a good work ethic but facing barriers to employment: a criminal past, mental health issues, mounting child support bills, child care concerns, or lacking a car.
Win for those depending on a family member with a barrier to win the bread.
Jobsolutions, an agency which seeks to boost employment, is trying to make all three wins happen with the help of a newly-created position. Workforce navigator Cayla Fortman helps good worker prospects take responsibility for personal difficulties that might otherwise block or cripple their employability.
“It’s all about accountability,” said Carolyn Rodenhauser, workforce administrator for Jobsolutions. “We don’t want to help people that don’t want to help themselves. We want them to change (their situation) and see they can change this.”
Employers can use such people.
“There are positions at various companies that may be an excellent fit for an individual that has had issues throughout life … We see some voids where (companies) can’t hire or maybe they can’t find the people,” Rodenhauser said. “So we wanted to make sure we were helping some of those individuals that are already currently living here fill some of those positions.”
Most people would be referred to Fortman before they get a job. Referrals would come from any of a number of sources, including Hancock County Adult Probation Department; Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services; City Mission; or Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Depending on the particular worker’s needs, the workforce navigator might help make sure the prospective worker gets needed licensing for a job or goes to counseling appointments. If it’s someone getting behind on child support payments, the workforce navigator will help them face the issue and make arrangements to get caught up.
If the worker has difficulty affording child care, the workforce navigator will help them make arrangements. Grants may be available to help people afford child care, Rodenhauser said.
Some are able and willing to work, but don’t have a car. The workforce navigator would help them find transportation or find a job within walking distance of home.
The idea is, eventually the worker will be able to afford a car or bicycle.
“We have found that sometimes those ex-offenders, once they get into a job, they’re really good at keeping that job because they don’t want to lose it. They work like crazy. They show up on time,” Rodenhauser said. “They’re not all like that, but … when we see that they are job-ready, usually those employers are thrilled and the individuals are thrilled because there is a marriage there. It’s something that’s worked out well.”
Many of the people to be assisted lack the financial and emotional support to help them learn to take responsibility for their continued employment, Rodenhauser said.
“Our goal is to have somebody that keeps them on track. Somebody they can trust, that says, ‘Let’s see how we might be able to help you get back on your feet,’” Rodenhauser said.
Rodenhauser knows of no other job agency attempting this.
Broker of jobs
Jobsolutions in 2013 had 15,336 visitors, either unemployed seeking a job, or already employed and seeking an upgrade.
The agency also coordinated 246 hiring events within its building, including job fairs, taking applications or conducting on-the-spot interviews, working with numerous employers and staffing agencies.
Besides matching job seekers and employers, Jobsolutions, the state Job and Family Services Department, and others work together to train people for jobs.
It also offers employers grants to cover on-the-job training for up to $8,000 per worker. Last year, it funded 198 such grants to nearly 50 employers.
Another grant program, individual training accounts, helps the unemployed or underemployed get short-term training needed for a job or job upgrade.
Instruction to obtain a commercial driver’s license, for example, takes four to five weeks, Rodenhauser said. Some manufacturing training can be done in a few weeks. The grant money goes to the training program, such as Owens Community College.
Jobsolutions also offers training on resume writing, interview skills and general work readiness for those on government assistance, ex-felons and those with past drug or mental health issues.
Its website, jobsolutions.net, is one of the state’s most active job seeker websites with more than 451,709 visits and more than two million page views since its inception in late 2009.
In 2013, it received 61,000 visits and 434,012 page views for 2,379 Hancock County jobs posted on Jobsolutions.net and the state website, OhioMeansJobs.com.
Jobsolutions by the end of March plans to upgrade its system with an app which will connect people even more easily with job listings on the Jobsolutions.net website.
Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin
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