JobLink lives up to name

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 24, 2009



LAPLACE – In an effort to continue to capitalize on slight gains in the job market over the past three months, the Louisiana Workforce Commission recently scheduled a series of job assessment events across the River Parishes.

The program, known as JobLink, was the first of several assessment events scheduled across the state by LWC. Officials said the events are part of an effort to upgrade the quality and readiness of Louisiana’s labor resources.

“The career expo is a proactive means to match the workforce supply within the River Parishes with the demand levels of employers that are currently hiring,” said Tina Wright, a coordinator for the St. Charles Parish Consortium. “Knowing where the workforce is situated strengthens both our local and state economy.”

The JobLink event targeted more than 800 residents across St. John, St. James and St. Charles Parishes during the two-day event.

Gregg Smith, a spokesman for Workforce7, the workforce development consortium handling the event, said representatives with LWC provided job and training opportunities, future labor market information, skills assessment and career coaching.

“This was more than just a simple job fair for the unemployed,” Smith said. “Attendees received information on where they are best suited to work, where those industries exist and where the workforce outlook is headed. Another 200 job seekers participated in our WorkKeys skills assessment program.”

Smith said organizers also assisted in breaking down or reducing barriers to potential employment, including transportation and day care.

“A pivotal part of finding that right job is the ability to get out to the job,” said Smith. “We show them where to find the resources to get them out into the workforce.”

Smith said the emphasis of recent efforts have focused on dislocated workers in the state’s workforce. He said dislocated workers are those that have been terminated or laid off due to a permanent closure, a substantial layoff in an industry, an influx of foreign competition or a lack of demand for a specific skill.

“You can see why it is so difficult for these people to get back into the workforce,” Smith said. “In many cases, these individuals were working at a job for a number of years and now don’t know where to make the next move. These expos show them what other skills they may possess.”

According to stats from the commission’s Web site, the LWC has served more than 237,400 individuals throughout the state from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009, which is an increase of 49 percent from the previous 12 months.

The stats indicate that roughly seven out of 10 dislocated workers who received assessment assistance from LWC entered employment or education programs to help find employment. More than 80 percent are still working after six months.

“The average earnings of those individuals increased by more than 26 percent from dislocated workers served the previous year,” said Smith.

“Not only have we been able to help workers find jobs, but we’ve been able to help them improve their financial status, even during the recent national economic downturn,” he added.

Local statistics show in St. James, St. Charles and St. John parishes, 6,441 participants received LWC services from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009, with more than 92 percent of the dislocated workers who entered employment still working after six months.

“It’s all about finding where strengths lie,” Smith said. “There is a talented workforce in the region that just needs to show what it can do.”