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Teamwork helps link people to new careers

October 05, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County CareerLink office in Chambersburg led its eight-county district in the number of people it found jobs for in July. That's because of the cooperation and teamwork among the 13 partner agencies that share the work in the massive office building, said Wes Cool, the site administrator for the facility.

In July, 132 job applicants were hooked up with employers that hired them, the most of any in the eight-county South Central Pennsylvania region.

By the close of its 2002-03 fiscal year July 31, the Franklin County office had found jobs for nearly 2,300 applicants, Cool said.

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"When we have problems, we work through them with one thought in mind - to get employers the employees they need and job seekers the jobs they need," he said. "There are no turf fights here."

"Teamwork. That sums it up," said Cathy Bowen, CareerLink coordinator with the South Central Employment Corp., one of the 13 partner agencies in the office at 600 Norland Ave.

The office opened in 2000 a year after the federal Workforce Investment Act was passed, Bowen said. Pennsylvania was one of the first states to implement the act, which is set up to provide one-stop service for job seekers and employers.

The list of services offered by the 13 partner agencies include, among others, orientation for first-time users of the on-line system that connects job seekers with prospective employers, career counseling, labor market information, veteran job placement, rsum preparation, G.E.D., literacy and English-as-a-second-language classes, on-the-job and classroom training, public assistance programs including welfare-to-work, child care, food pantries, utility and weatherization assistance, and even help with housing.

Cool said 56 full- and part-time employees work in the 20,000-square-foot building that houses the center.

"This is not your grandfather's job center," said Joan Wolfgang, CareerLink program supervisor. "In the old days, jobs were listed on the wall. Now they're all on computer."

One thing the office doesn't do is handle unemployment compensation claims. Applicants apply for jobless benefits by telephone at the Unemployment Compensation Service Center in Lancaster County, Pa.

"We're about employment here, not unemployment," Bowen said.

Job seekers can come to the office in person to log on to the system or log on at home.

Cool has numbers that show applicants who come into the office do better at finding jobs than those who try from home. In the last fiscal year, of the more than 10,000 applicants who logged on at home, 221 found jobs. Of the more than 4,500 who took advantage of the 14 computers in the office plus the one-on-one personal service provided by center employees, 2,077 found employment, Cool said.

Applicants come from Franklin County, all over Pennsylvania and nearby states. The on-line jobs bank offers positions locally, statewide and out of state, Cool said.

Last week, Steve Schuchman, 48, of Chambersburg, was sitting at one of the center's 14 computers trying to line up a job with a security company to replace a similar position he lost in a layoff.

Next to him sat Heather Myers, 26, of Greencastle, Pa. She said she's not working and is thinking of going back to school to train for a career in health care. Her training is in business, she said.

She said she was searching the jobs listing "to see what's out there" in case she decided to return to work instead.

"I'm just enrolling and putting out my rsum," she said.

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