Workforce WV Offers Free Services
The American Job Center, also referred to as Workforce WV Career Center – located in the New Martinsville Plaza – offers a variety of programs and services to those in need. The center is a private, non-profit organization, and the Northern Panhandle’s division includes offices in Weirton and Wheeling as well as New Martinsville. Workforce is funded by the Department of Labor, and the Northern Panhandle’s division serves the following counties: Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler.
Workforce was described as a “one-stop career center” dedicated to assisting people in finding careers and offering related services. This organization provides both employers and job-seekers various career and workforce development services. These services include Assessment and Case Management, Career Pathways, Program Eligibility, Occupational Training, Apprenticeship Training, an On-the-Job Training Program – a new program that requires a mandatory $10-an-hour pay for participants, Basic Skills Training, Job Development and Placement, and Supportive Services.
The Workforce Center also provides services for youth including Guidance and Counseling, Tutoring Services, Alternative Education Services, Adult Mentoring, and Financial Literacy Education. The goal is to equip young people with the skills necessary to step into a career. As such, Workforce also has On-the-Job Training four times a year. This training lasts about six to eight weeks, and is designed to provide young people with jobs that will teach them basic job skills.
Becky Raspperry – Manager of three Workforce Centers – said that the center typically employs one individual from the program to answer phones and such, therefore teaching them basic office skills.
Raspperry reported that other participants in employing the youth involved in this program are the county courthouse, the 4-H grounds, and the city. However, it was said that any private, non-profit company can participate.
All of these services offered to community members by the Workforce Center are free. Christine Smith, who also works alongside Workforce, explained that citizens can use the center’s phone, fax machine, and computers for job search purposes. Workforce employees will also help any individual apply for jobs and give assistance in writing resumes. It was said Workforce works with local businesses to post all available job positions both online and oftentimes on a physical Job Board in the office. All of these services are also free to the community.
It was also said Workforce partners with social service agencies, either having a representative in the center or having quick access to them. Some of these partners include Adult Education, DHHR, West Virginia Northern Community College, and the National NCOA. Having access to these services provides Workforce with a broader range to help job seekers.
Rasppberry said that the Workforce center is dedicated to helping people overcome barriers for employment. In order to achieve this, the center is open to help individuals in all situations including those being laid-off.
When asked, it was said that one of the most popular programs offered to people was the Individual Training Account (ITA) Program.
The ITA Program was designed to help individuals seeking higher education achieve this goal. In order to qualify for this program, one must be determined “WIOA eligible” and pass a Drug Screening Test. This program offers financial assistance to send the eligible participants into training for an “in-demand occupation” in the region such as truck driving, work with heavy equipment, any medical field, work with computers, and business. The Workforce Center will fund up to $4,750 a year for training, not to exceed $9,500 for two years.
Rasppberry explained that currently the most popular field is truck driving as the training is only five to 12 weeks, and there are available jobs upon graduation from program and as soon as participants obtain their license. She said many individuals aren’t able to commit to a two-year program as they have families, but are able to complete the truck driving course.
However, it was said Workforce won’t forget about participants after completion of the program. Smith explained that Workforce performs a follow-up with individuals two years after their subsequent graduation from their chosen field of study. If they are still in need of the Workforce’s help, the center will continue to offer services to them.
According to Smith, many people aren’t aware of the existence of the Workforce Center or the services offered. She also expressed many individuals don’t approach Workforce as they fear they won’t qualify. However, Smith said, “Some people are actually surprised to find out that they do qualify for our services.”
She explained one doesn’t have to have been laid off, as Workforce gives assistance to those who are unemployed, under-employed, or part-time workers. One of the main goals of Workforce is to help people get from a job to a career, in order to sustain their family.
In addition to the many programs offered by this Workforce, Raspperry reported a Federal Bonding Program is offered to employers for free. It was said this program protects businesses from theft or damage for up to six months. This is just extra protection for employers as some programs’ participants may have criminal backgrounds.
The aforementioned programs are only examples of what is offered at the Workforce Center. There are many services, programs, and funding available at the center to help people change their lives. However, Smith explained that they first have to come to the center and see what they have to offer.
“When everybody sees the building, they think unemployment.” Raspperry explained. “It’s not just unemployment. We’re here to help the citizens and everybody in the Northern Panhandle.”
The American Job Center will hold a Job Fair on May 23 at the New Martinsville United Methodist Church in order to reach more people and offer job opportunities. All are invited to attend and see what positions are available.
For more information, call Toll Free 1-866-9JOBNOW or visit www.npworkforcewv.org