JobLink Center offers multiple services

Published 11:45 am Saturday, November 28, 2009

AHOSKIE – The celebration was cut short by reality.

Just after local, regional and state officials snipped the ceremonial ribbon last week that formally christened the Hertford County JobLink Career Center, a man walked towards the joyous crowd seeking assistance.

“Is this the unemployment office,” asked the man, pointing towards the JobLink Center now located on the Roanoke-Chowan Community College campus. “I just learned this morning that I lost the job I’ve had for 39 years.”

Upon learning that he was in the right place, the man shuffled through the crowd gathered for the grand opening.

“That’s what we’re here for, to offer assistance in any way we can,” Hertford County JobLink Career Center manager L.C. Hoggard III said.

And so it is…the Center, among a long listing of services, is the place for those wishing to file an unemployment claim or to seek financial assistance for tuition in order to re-train for another career.

“This is not only the ESC (Employment Security Commission) office, we are able to offer so many other services to those seeking assistance,” Hoggard noted. “Because of that variety of services offered under one roof, we are a one-stop shop. We have numerous partners working with us.”

Other than the traditional ESC office (assisting with unemployment claims and job searches), Hoggard said the local JobLink Career Center also offers WIA (Workforce Investment Act), which is a part of CADA (Choanoke Area Development Association).

“They (WIA) help dislocated workers through the use of a funding stream that helps to offset the cost of tuition when a person seeks to retrain for another career,” Hoggard said.

In addition, the JobLink Center offers the Youth at Work program, operated by GTC Services. That offering aids young people with in-school and out-of-school programs.

The Title 5 program, under the umbrella of the Mid-East Commission, is also a part of the JobLink Center. It assists those age 55-and-over locate employment opportunities.

A “floating office” within the Center is staffed part-time by two other service providers – Vocational Re-Hab (assists those with disabilities who are seeking employment) and the Department of Social Services Work First Program.

The JobLink Center serves citizens in Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Northampton counties.

Since moving to the R-CCC campus in late June, the JobLink Center has assisted more than 3,000 individuals.

Of all its services, one of the key programs is JobsNow.

R-CCC has the Golden Leaf Foundation and the Jobs Now “12 in 6” Initiative. These two programs are free and will provide training for dislocated workers.

The Golden Leaf Foundation is a grant R-CCC President Dr. Ralph Soney got approved for the campus. It provides courses in welding, building construction, plumbing and heating/air/ventilation/refrigeration. All the courses, except building construction, will last approximately 4-5 weeks. Building construction will require more training but it will be taught in sections.

The goal of Golden Leaf and Jobs Now is to provide free training in a shortened amount of time so the people who complete the courses can find work in an adequate amount of time.

John Mulder, Division Director of Vocational Technical Programs is heading the Golden Leaf efforts. Several faculty members have already been assigned and training for most categories has been designed. Welding and construction classes are already underway. Further classes will be made available when dates are finalized by faculty.

The Jobs Now Initiative is being led by AJ Tyson Jr., Senior Dean of Workforce & Student Development at RCCC. This is a grant from Governor Beverly Purdue awarded to community colleges around the state that will assist in the employment of people in 12 different areas in 6 months of training.

The jobs R-CCC is focusing on include Emergency Medical Technician, Healthcare Billing & Coding, Nurse Aide I and Phlebotomy. Nurse Aide I and Phlebotomy are offered in a traditional classroom and online.

Upon completion of the course, students will need to complete the Workkeys assessments in order to receive a certificate. These tests consist of three sections: applied math, reading for information, and locating information. Students will then receive a Career Readiness Certificate recognized by future employers.

Classes have already begun for several of these specialties, but it is not too late to apply through the Job Link Center.

“We are the first contact for the ‘12-in-6’ program,” Hoggard said. “Those interested can come in and see a JobLink staff member and we’ll take the initial information and then send them over to WIA to see if they qualify for the tuition assistance. From there it’s off to class to train for a career in one of the areas of education offered by the program through the community college.”

The Hertford County JobLink Career Center is located in the middle of the R-CCC campus near the Freeland Building. For more information, call 862-1257.

Taking part in last week’s grand opening celebration were Dr. Soney, Hoggard, Tyson, Hertford County Commissioner DuPont Davis, Region Q Workforce Development Director Walter Dorsey, Tamme Reese of the NC Department of Commerce and Carl White of the R-CCC Board of Trustees.

It was Davis who led a local effort to have the ESC return to Hertford County. The state-operated agency closed its Ahoskie office on April 18, 2008.

“We want our citizens to have access to Employment Security Commission services without having to drive through another county to get to the office,” Davis said earlier this year. “At this point, our citizens must drive through Bertie County to the ESC office in Williamston; through Gates County to the ESC office in Elizabeth City or through Northampton County to the ESC office in Roanoke Rapids.”

In February, R-CCC hosted a meeting of business and political leaders from throughout Hertford County in an effort to see what could be done about re-opening an ESC office or JobLink Center in the county.

That effort was rewarded when, in March, ESC announced the opening of an office in the CADA building in Ahoskie on Colony Street.

Meanwhile, Davis continued to push for the multi-purpose JobLink Center at R-CCC, one that opened June 26.