Large job fairs in the past have given many job seekers luck in terms of finding the right career for them. However, like most large events, there haven’t been many opportunities for connection face to face.
In the past years in Richland County, the same story could be told. Without job fairs, and only limited options for online job boards, searching for the first or next job endeavor served as a challenge for most people.
The Area 10 Workforce Development Board had a decision to make. Like many other workforce development groups, they considered buying a virtual job fair program once COVID-19 hit. Due to the rising cost, however, they decided to go in a different direction.
“We didn't want to purchase something that was from another company that may or may not work for us locally,” said Teresa Alt, member of the Area 10 Workforce Development Board.
In May, the Board met with Gary Frankhouse, executive director from Crawford Partnership, who pushed for Richland County to get on board with the Community Opportunity platform. He saw it as a great way to promote a hyper-local workforce region along the Route 30 corridor.
Once the pandemic hit, the board was able to use administrative funds and allocate them over to Community Opportunity.
“What we're trying to do is work with the new platform to kind of make it a virtual job fair, but also a living, breathing platform that is used all year round,” Alt said.
Using Community Opportunity gives Richland County locals the benefit of finding more jobs near them, including manufacturing jobs, which Alt says they’re working hard to destigmatize by hosting videos on the site that show how advanced manufacturing jobs are today.
“We don't want people spending a lot of their time searching for their spot or searching for what will make them happy and what will click for them,” Alt said. “If they can figure that out by watching some videos and doing some research online, then I think we can move our local economy forward and our local businesses can thrive.”
Community Opportunity also gives high school students the ability to connect to those businesses and stay within their community.
“The overall goal is to make it available to both job seekers and students until we can go back to face to face, which could be a significant period of time that we have opportunities to connect people,” Alt said.
Clint Knight, director of workforce development for the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t be more thrilled to have a hyper-local platform for Richland County like Wyandot and Crawford County. So far, over 50 employers from Richland County have joined the site.
Because a lot of people have found themselves out of a job, the Community Opportunity website has become more prudent now more than ever.
“This is something new in Richland County. It's a one-stop-shop where people are able to go and see right here locally what is available to them at the moment,” Knight said.
“There are still jobs available, and there are good-paying jobs,” Alt said. “We just have to get people connected to them, and then we may have to connect them to our Ohio Means Jobs center for some training or upskilling to get them into the employer’s doors. But that’s the whole key—getting everybody to work together.”
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