One-Stop Center offers local services to unemployed

Published 10:24 am Saturday, April 24, 2010

If you are unemployed — or simply looking for another job — your local One-Stop Workforce Center, or One-Stop, should be your first stop.

A One-Stop is a publicly funded center where individuals and businesses can access employment, training and career services. There are three Opportunity Inc. One-Stop Workforce Centers in Western Hampton Roads.

The first is at Paul D. Camp Community College Workforce Development Center in Franklin. Another, also in Franklin, is in the human resource office at International Paper and is specifically for employees affected by the mill closure.

Lastly, the Suffolk Workforce Development Center is a partnership between Opportunity Inc. and the City of Suffolk.

Three levels of benefits are available to jobseekers at One-Stop Centers: Core, Intensive and Training. Individuals can move from one benefit level to the next or receive services from more than one level at a time, depending on their needs.

Core services, usually self-directed, are available to everyone without eligibility requirement. These include work skills exploration; access to a computer, Internet, telephone, fax and copy machine; searches for jobs and training; access to lists of available jobs; résumé assistance; job search training; networking skills workshops; interview techniques workshops; referral to employers with job openings; and eligibility determination for additional services.

Intensive services and training have program eligibility and funding limitations. However, anyone who is currently unemployed, through no fault of their own, is more than likely eligible for intensive and training benefits. Additionally, significant levels of stimulus program funding have made funding available at levels we have not seen in years.

Intensive benefits include one-on-one assistance from a professional career developer, comprehensive assessment of skills and service needs, development of an individual employment and career plan, intensive career counseling, in-depth interviewing skills development, computer workshops and assistance with résumés, cover letters.

The goal of all One-Stop Centers is to help you secure a job in the career of your choice and to provide for additional education/training if you are switching careers or need to brush up your skill set.

First, career developers are there to assist your job search even if you have no need for additional training. However, should you need it, you can access educational programs from dozens of providers, including community colleges, universities, for-profit technical schools and others. The staff will even assist in applying for financial aid if the training stipend is insufficient to cover the particular course of study you choose.

Lastly, you can train and look for work at the same time; in fact, you are encouraged to do so. As long as you are eligible for benefits at the time you are enrolled into One-Stop services, you can complete your course of study even if you find a job first.

Training benefits include occupational skills training, on-the-job training, up-to-date work skills training, job readiness training, adult education and literacy, customized training for an employer who commits to hiring, and, in some cases, support services like child care and transportation while in training.

In the current economy, jobseekers need all the help they can get. Your local One-Stop Workforce Center truly should be your first stop in looking for work. They provide benefits you have paid for with your taxes in much the same way as unemployment insurance.

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