In a previous edition of Focus on Laurinburg, you were introduced to the NCWorks Career Center in Scotland County and the opportunities and tools it offers to connect citizens of our area to good jobs with a wide variety of businesses and companies in the area. We now want to introduce you to one of the primary tools available through the Career Center, which can assist individuals with skills training designed to help enter into high demand, good paying occupations. That tool is the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, most often referred to as WIOA and its potential to assist you gaining meaningful employment is significant.
Let’s first give you the primary overview of exactly what WIOA is and how it works. The aim of the service is to address the employment and training needs of adults and dislocated workers, in conjunction with in demand positions in the community. Locally, the program is funded by the Lumber River Workforce Development Board and operated by Two Hawk Workforce Services in partnership with the NCWorks Career Centers in Scotland, Richmond, Hoke, and Robeson counties. Staff in the program provides career planning and counseling, basic skills assessment, resume writing consultation, work-based learning opportunities, classroom training assistance, and job search/job placement assistance.
By now you are likely asking if this is something available to help you, so let’s review some situations that might answer the question for you. WIOA is aimed at working with adults 18 years of age or older having difficulty finding employment or are long-term unemployed/underemployed. We often assist individuals that have been terminated or laid off and receiving unemployment benefits. Some of our customers have been impacted by a plant or business closure. We can potentially assist self-employed individuals who are no longer working due to economic conditions. Many times we work with displaced homemakers who are experiencing employability problems returning to the workforce. With our close proximity to area military installations, we can often assist the spouse of a deployed Armed Forces member who is experiencing decreased income & unemployment or underemployment. Staff members are always glad to meet with any interested customer and discuss their potential eligibility and suitability for program services.
Now let’s review the key services WIOA can provide for eligible customers. Many of our customers receive financial aid for classroom training that leads to an Associate’s Degree, Diploma or Certificate, typically using our local community college partners. This can include assistance with tuition, books, and fees; the focus is on coursework in high demand occupations and career pathways. We have participants enrolled in Industrial Technology, NCCER Electrical, Nursing and CDL training; all of which are resulting successfully in finding employment after completing training. There are work based learning opportunities such as Work Experience and On-the-Job Training (OJT). Both of these training services are focused on hands on experience and training with real work and real pay. OJT is a popular service which brings the job seeker and the businesses together for an immediate job placement that provides training while earning and learning on the job. In Scotland County, two local companies, Service Thread and Pilkington North America, regularly utilize the OJT service to provide training positions for new employees and both have strong success with participants being highly successful in learning new job skills and maintaining solid employment beyond the training period. This is a win-win for business, the employee, and ultimately the community. An example of our OJT partnership is a recent placement where we partnered with the CTE Director at Scotland County Schools to place a graduating senior (that was not college bound) with a Welding Certificate in an OJT contract with a starting pay of $13.00 per hour and the potential to make up to $20.00 per hour as he progresses in the job. Basically, WIOA services can address most any skills training situation a customer or business might have and do so in a manner that can be financially beneficial to the job applicant and with OJT, to the business itself.
These services are readily available to individuals and businesses in Laurinburg/Scotland County, but we need to hear from you if you are interested. Our Workforce Specialist staff members are ready to meet with individual customers to provide assessment and skill needs determination. Likewise, our staff can quickly and easily discuss the positive financial benefits available to local business customers interested in participating in Work Based learning positions, using tools like OJT. If you are experiencing difficulty in finding solid employment and committed to investing the time and effort to gain new skill sets which lead to better career opportunities, you need to act now. Information and assistance is only minutes away your local NCWorks Career Center, located at 303 North Main Street, Laurinburg, NC 28352, or you can call for an appointment at 910-276-4260. We are looking forward to hearing from you—learn and earn!
Regina Smalls, manager of NCWorks Career Center forScotland/Richmond/Hoke, wrote this week’s Focus on Scotland, an effort by community leaders on making Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.