This month’s Spotlight! is shining brightly on the KRA/CTWorks One-Stop Centers in the Greater Hartford Region of Connecticut, their Online Learning Center (OLC) and Career Resource Center (CRC) facilities, and Terry Flowers, a successful jobseeker-customer, who reported, “I attribute my success in job-searching efforts to the very positive environment here… everyone was interested in helping [me] to achieve [my] goals.” Funded by Capital Workforce Partners, the WIB for the Region, this 37-town, multi-site, high-volume operation, provides unparalleled resources that serve WIA-eligible Adult/Dislocated Workers and a TANF-funded Jobs First Employment Services Program. Special-population KRA/CTWorks programs include a Homeless Veterans Integration Program; an employment-retention program for ex-offenders who are currently employed; and a National Emergency Grant Program for WIA Dislocated Workers separated from employment due to downsizing, reorganization, or closure at specific companies in the Region.
Each of the four offices includes a no-appointment-necessary, walk-in OLC that provides jobseekers a range of computer- and business-skills development services from beginning-level to advanced. The OLCs offer individual help to assist customers in learning or expanding computer skills; in taking online, self-paced training and tests for a wide variety of technology, business, and workplace skills; and in developing skills needed to find a job, including computers, Internet and email; resume preparation; and online job hunting. However, two of the offices, Hartford and Enfield, also house a CRC for jobseekers who possess the computer savvy to engage in job-searching/application tasks on their own. Staffed by a team of Customer Service Expeditors (CSE), these centers are designed as a more “self service” resource for independent job-search activities. In addition to providing CRC assistance to jobseekers, when needed, CSEs also assist customers by referring them to OLCs and other KRA/CTWorks services, including participation in a wide variety of work-readiness workshops.
Terry, who is 63, single, with no children, had been visiting the Hartford KRA/CTWorks One Stop Center since July of 2011, at which time he was certified as an eligible Dislocated Worker because he had lost his job through no fault of his own. With a BA degree in Psychology and English from Andrews University, as well as a long and successful work history in the mental health/social services arena, including licensure as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Terry was no stranger to the workings of computers, as well as their unique benefits when job hunting. However, lack of a home computer deprived him of access to the Internet, developing/posting electronic versions of his resume, searching job-related databases and websites, etc.
Terry visited the CRC on a regular basis to look for work, to rework/post his resume, and to seek the advice and counseling of the KRA/CTWorks staff available to assist him. Three CSEs… Madelyn Cruz, Llinet Espada, and Jerry Santostefano…helped Terry at different times, but it was Cruz who worked with him the most and discussed with him the idea of telling his story in the KRA Spotlight!. As a result of his access to all the CRC resources, Terry found his first part-time job as a CNA at Hebrew Health Center in West Hartford. Then on March 7, he visited the CRC to complete some paperwork needed for another part-time position that he had secured, as a Recovery Specialist…helping patients to find housing and other community services…at the Connecticut Mental Health Association in New Britain. Before leaving, Terry thanked the CSE staff for their assistance and guidance, telling them that for his successful job-search outcomes, “The importance of having such services and equipment available at the CTWorks One Stop Center during times of unemployment [was] essential.”
When asked about the overall atmosphere in the CRC, Cruz commented, “You cannot stress enough the ‘team environment’ that we have developed in the CRCs, with the guiding hand of our Core Services Supervisor, Beth McCabe.* No service provided to Terry, and hundreds of other CRC users, is considered too ‘basic’ or inconsequential by our team…we provide customers with up-to-date website information useful for job searching; review and critique their cover letters and resumes; provide resume paper and envelopes for hard-copy faxing or mailing; fax applications with other supporting documents; etc. It’s really quite simple, we provide whatever assistance is needed, whenever it is needed.”
*It was recently reported that Beth McCabe had been selected to receive the 2013 NAWDP Professional Development Award, one of four “Advancing the Profession” honors that recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the Workforce Development profession.