Employers and workers do best when the job and the employee are a good fit, experts agree. Two new local initiatives are focusing on that idea.
People are getting back to work after the economic slowdown triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-08 brought jobless levels to 10 percent, a 27-year high. For those who remain unemployed or underemployed, however, the upturn brings little comfort. And in the meantime, at some area businesses positions are remaining vacant for considerable amounts of time.
At a newly opened job center in Lisle, the Illinois Department of Employment Security is collaborating with employers to help people enhance their readiness to get back to work.
“What we can do is we can help individuals identify what they need to do to re-enter the workforce,” said Illinois Job Link and IDES spokesman Greg Rivara, who pointed out that coordinating unemployment benefits is just a small piece of the state agency’s scope of work. “Our primary role is to identify a person who has been unemployed, and look to see what job availability fits that person.”
When a suitable match isn’t readily available, Rivara said, the job seekers are encouraged to examine their circumstances through a wider lens to see if they have interests and aptitudes they’ve previously overlooked.
“So often we think of ourselves as an electrician or a plumber, rather than focusing on the skills that make us a good electrician or a good plumber,” Rivara said.
IDES Director Jay Rowell said approaching the task through partnerships will help free up funds for job training that will help workers begin bringing home a paycheck again.
“The ability to connect men and women with meaningful employment is critical to creating stable families and growing our economy,” Rowell said in a news release. “There are many great organizations that provide employment services. Together, we need to do a better job coordinating that effort.”
Finding a good work fit is an effort familiar to Joy Maguire-Dooley, who facilitates the Lisle Township Job Club’s meetings every Wednesday morning at the Community Career Center in Naperville.
“The whole thing we saw years ago was that there were lots of jobs and people out of work, but the two didn’t always mesh,” said Maguire-Dooley, who is pleased that the matter is being addressed. “It’s not going to be something that happens overnight, but I think it’s wonderful.”
The undertaking was made possible by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, federal job training legislation that passed Congress with strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Obama in July. The measure provides funds to help connect job seekers with employment, training, education and support services.
Rivara said employers are able to look through the center’s resume database, filtering their search criteria to fit the need for specific positions. Under the broad area of technology, a job candidate living in a certain geographic location who is a veteran and holds a specific set of licenses, for example, can be identified.
“We can find that person,” Rivara said.
Locally, another effort is filling some of the many available factory jobs. The Metro West Manufacturing Workforce Collaborative secured $200,000 from DuPage County in April to launch the program, a partnership including Career Connect Metro West, the Alliance for Illinois Manufacturing and DuPage United, a grass roots collection of community associations, faith groups and nonprofits that engage in civic advocacy and activism.
Amy Lawless-Ayala, lead organizer for DuPage United, said the Jane Addams Resource Corporation’s recent expansion to the Technology Center of DuPage will launch Sept. 2 with training in automated machining and welding. A dozen job candidates have qualified so far for the training after interviews conducted at a series of recruitment sessions throughout the county, she said.
“The missing link to addressing the workforce gap in DuPage for mid-skill manufacturing jobs … is finding people to get them into training,” Lawless-Ayala said in an email in which she pointed out that with some 1,600 companies involved in production, DuPage County is the state’s second-largest manufacturing sector.
The initiative aims to place about 80 people in jobs within its first year, “but about 1,000 are needed to fill open jobs,” she said, adding that one welding class had to be cancelled because of insufficient enrollment.
“JARC said they have never been able to get such a high ratio of quality candidates until CCMW came into the picture,” Lawless-Ayala said. “Part of why this is working is because CCMW is working with DuPage United, who is on the ground personally inviting people they know, doing on the ground outreach rather than an expensive marketing approach.”
Two upcoming recruitment sessions have been scheduled in Naperville: from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 4 at Loaves & Fishes Community Services, 1871 High Grove Lane; and from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Islamic Foundation of Naperville, 2844 W. Ogden Ave. For more information or to sign up, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the IDES assistance can be found at illinoisjoblink.com or by calling 877-342-7533.Tags: economy, Jobs, unemployment