MANSFIELD -- As Ohio “reopens” amid historically high unemployment, agencies devoted to helping people find jobs are still operating, often remotely.
Temp2Higher is continuing to counsel clients and help with job placements. Tionna Perdue is also meeting with job seekers on an as-needed, appointment only basis.
“We do have several essential jobs available so we are business as normal," Perdue said. "Nothing has really changed for us, except that placements have to be an essential job.
“We’ve come up with a way to do phone orientation, you sign the forms electronically, I do FaceTime and then we eventually do meet when we go into the office."
Individuals interested in job assistance can call NECIC or begin the application process online.
Goodwill Industries of Akron has had to temporarily close its operations due to the Stay at Home order. A limited number of staff members continue to provide virtual job development and training to individuals referred by Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities.
There are also staff members working from home to provide virtual job search assistance and occasionally meeting clients for face-to-face job coaching.
Jennifer Bako, director of public relations, said offering these services has been challenging at times, since some individuals that Goodwill serves may not have access to a computer or internet connection.
The OhioMeansJobs Richland Center offers job seekers access to computers, the internet, a fax machine, copier and phones to assist them in their search. The Center also provides monthly workshops on resume writing and interviewing skills and allows local employers to schedule open interviews in the Center.
To comply with social distancing requirements, the center has spaced out computer workstations, decreasing the available number from 15 to seven. The number of people allowed in the building at any one time has been limited to ten. Workshops have been cancelled. Staff are required to wear masks in all public areas of the center, while customers are encouraged to wear masks.
Lori Bedson, assistant director, said that these days, many visitors are using the computers to apply for unemployment benefits.
“The most challenging part for the staff in the Center has been the inability to truly assist individuals with the process for applying for unemployment compensation,” she said. “Although the Center can offer computers for use by individuals to complete their initial and weekly claims, the Center staff cannot answer eligibility questions, review claims to answer questions about why a person’s claim has been denied or is pending or reset PINs.”
Mitch Jacobsen, director of vocational services at Catalyst Life Services, noted that public assistance recipients are still required to be part of a workforce development program.
Catalyst Life Services provides vocational services through onsite employment opportunities, temporary job placements and various Success Unlimited programs, which help job seekers overcome barriers to employment.
During the month of April, case managers kept in touch with clients via text or video conferencing. Most of the staff is still working from home whenever possible and wearing masks whenever they meet clients in the office.
“It’s been a challenge but I think we’re responding to it as best we can,” said Jacobsen. “Keeping in contact is the biggest thing.”
Catalyst is continuing to use telehealth to meet with clients.
While many industries are reopening or preparing to do so, there are still jobs available. Catalyst has been helping its clients tailor their resumes and secure letters of recommendation.
“We see a lot of the essential businesses right now, they’re desperate. They’ll hire as many people as they can,” said Jacobsen.