Duluth WorkForce Development center helps job seekers learn skillsLocated on the second floor of the Duluth Government Center, the Duluth WorkForce Development center provides a variety of employment, job training, and career assistance programs for unemployed and underemployed individuals in the area. The office is one of 16 Minnesota WorkForce Centers that are federally funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
When the nonprofit organization that Theresa Bobula of Duluth was working for started losing funding last spring, she knew she was going to be out of a job soon. After she lost her position and filed for unemployment, Bobula discovered that she qualified as a dislocated worker.
She heard the Duluth WorkForce Development center was a good resource for individuals seeking jobs, so she decided to check it out. During the four months that she was out of work, Bobula went to a weekly program at the center, called “Job Club.”
“It’s so easy to get off track when you lose a job,” Bobula said. “For me, it was extremely encouraging to know that every Monday I was going to be sitting at a table talking about my plan. It helped propel me back into the workforce.”
Located on the second floor of the Duluth Government Center, the Duluth WorkForce Development center provides a variety of employment, job training, and career assistance programs for unemployed and underemployed individuals in the area. The office is one of 16 Minnesota WorkForce Centers that are federally funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
“We do a lot of stuff that is all centered around one thing–how to get people back to work,” said Betsy Harmon, regional job service manager at the center. “We serve people of all ages, with youth programs up to senior programs, and everyone in between.”
Bobula said getting involved at the WorkForce center helped her obtain her current position working for Minnesota’s Sixth Judicial District Court as a coordinator for drug courts on the Iron Range and in Duluth. Job Club is only one of several job training programs taking place at the center throughout the month.
“Job Club is successful for people because they can have some structure and some additional regular contact with people,” Harmon said. “It keeps people on track and gives them the structure and guidance needed when a job is lost.”
Held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. every Monday, Job Club helps individuals make progress in their job search by teaching skills related to interviews, résumés, networking, and how to use social media in their search. Sessions also focus on expanding social networks through Facebook and creating online profiles to connect with businesses.
Betsy Hill, job developer at the workforce center who has run the weekly program for nearly three years, said a new topic is discussed at Job Club each week.
“It’s a pretty loose format where people can come in and talk about their results from a job search,” she said. “What they feel is going well for them and any information that would help them in their search. I then try to refer them to resources in the community.”
Hill said she networks with many businesspeople in the community and is a board member for the Northland Human Resource Association, which helps her make job connections for the clients she works with.
“I like to ask employers what they are seeing and what’s impressing them about candidates,” Hall said. “The networking that happens among job seekers is also a benefit because someone might find a job that’s not a fit for them, but is for someone else.”
“People just want to help each other. I think that’s universal,” she continued. “Even if we want to help ourselves, it feels good to say ‘I can help you.’”
The Monday, Feb. 13 Job Club will discuss professional résumés and how to tailor them for specific jobs.
Help getting started
Opening as a one-stop work force center in 1998, the Duluth WorkForce Development center is now a partnership of the City of Duluth, Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training, Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, and several others that provide more intensive services for unemployed individuals that qualify. Some of these include an office for the State Services for the Blind and vocational rehabilitation services.
Duluth WorkForce Development also has a resource center available for job seekers, where they can use the Internet to search job listings and print resumes and cover letters for free. Hill said Mondays are always busy days because the computers are used to file for unemployment benefits every week.
“I just want people who come in to know that this is a place where there are resources,” Hill said. “That if you are overwhelmed in your job search, you can come here and get help to get started. It’s embarrassing for a lot of people to say that they are out of work, but I encourage people to claim their status as a job seeker and say they are looking for work.”
The picture in Duluth
As of December 2011, the unemployment rate in Duluth was estimated at 5.8 percent, according to surveys by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). This number includes only those individuals who are actively looking for work, as there is probably double that number when factoring in unemployed individuals who are not looking for work, said Drew Digby, regional labor market analyst at the Duluth WorkForce Development center.
“We’re still, in Duluth, probably 2,000 jobs below where we were three years ago before the recession really hit,” he said. “A lot of the jobs that people lost are not any that will be coming back. That means there’s a significant number of people who are struggling to find the right mix.”
Yet, there is optimism among the staff of the Duluth WorkForce Development center, who work to educate job seekers about what companies are looking for and how to get the most success out of their search.
“Career exploration is something we talk about a lot,” Hill said. “How do I find out what I want to be when I grow up? There’s so many millions of people changing jobs and careers, and there’s a lot you can do.”
To learn about more of the programs offered at the Duluth WorkForce Development center, visit www.positivelyminnesota.com. All programs are free, but many require registration, which can also be completed by calling (218)723-4730.
Several resources for job seekers that are shown to program attendees are www.minnesotaworks.net, which has job listings from throughout the state, and www.iseek.org, which can be used to research careers and identify personal skills.
Duluth WorkForce Development center upcoming events:
The session focuses on job search success and setting goals. Topics include tailoring résumés, building networks, and using social media for job searches.
The orientation is through the Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) to provide job search skills to individuals with disabilities.
The workshop focuses on skills for job searching, including writing effective résumés, preparing for interviews, and networking.
The session teaches job seekers how to use www.minnesotaworks.net to search for open positions in Minnesota and how to submit résumés on the website.