By Patricia Jones, Task Force on Poverty
In the last few months we have seen a major change in Nebraska’s unemployment rate due to COVID-19. February’s rate of 2.9% had risen to 8.3% by April but dropped to 5.2% in May. Many of these lay-offs have been temporary, with workers waiting to be called back as more businesses and activities reopen. Some jobs have been lost forever.
Maybe you are a worker whose job has ended. Maybe you’ve had time to reevaluate your career choice. Maybe you are an essential worker who has decided it’s time to switch occupations. Where do you go for help? The Alliance Career Center for the Nebraska Department of Labor, 1750 Sweetwater Avenue Room 013; in the lower level of the Alliance Learning Center, which houses the city library and WNCC’s Alliance Campus.
The Nebraska Department of Labor has two sides. One, in Lincoln, processes unemployment claims. The other side is for employment, and that is the focus of the Alliance Career Center. The primary function of the Career Center is to help job seekers find positions that are well suited to them and to help employers find candidates who are well suited to the openings they have.
Job seekers who come into the office will meet with Kim Hielscher or Jill Langemeier, Workforce Coordinators. They might also meet with Donna Kuskie or A.J. Trook, who have specialized programs we will learn about in a future article.
Job seekers are asked to bring information with them that will assist with their resume, cover letter, or application process. Specifically they need to have their work history of previous employers and dates of employment. They will register for work on the Nebraska Department of Labor site NEworks.nebraska.gov. The career center can assist them with their job search, preparing a resume and cover letter. Arrangements can even be made for a mock interview.
You can get career tips on the website NEworks.nebraska.gov where you can set up a personal account. There you can view a guide to the steps you should take to follow the path to your ideal occupation. If you aren’t sure what jobs you are well suited for, there are three assessments available through Career Explorer: Match Your Skills, Match Your Work Interests, and Match Your Work Values.
Sometimes you realize you need more education or training for your ideal job. The Workforce Coordinators will connect you with the GED program (high school diploma), Pine Ridge Job Corps, Vocational Rehab, or WNCC. They might recommend you upskill with free online courses from alison.com, a website that that lets you learn specific skills and issues a certificate once you have mastered that skill.
Anyone can view jobs available in our area and throughout Nebraska for those considering relocation. If you set up an account, the Virtual Recruiter will send you an alert when new jobs are posted that relate to your career preference. Job descriptions might include wage information or the number of potential candidates who might also be considering that position.
Hielscher and Langemeier can help you put together a great resume and cover letter. They can get you set up on a computer so you can fill out job applications. Equipment you can use to help get a job includes computers, copiers, fax machine, phone, scanner, and a conference room. You can make an appointment for a mock interview, or get a list of questions to be prepared for.
Many of the people who come into the career center have been devastated by their job loss. Some have never been unemployed and don’t know how to begin. Langemeier and Hielscher will work with you to get on track. They may also refer you to other agencies if you need public assistance.
You can communicate with an Alliance Workforce Coordinator by phone, 308-763-2935, email [email protected]. Or contact the state office via Internet or the NEWorks app; it is not necessary to come in. The Alliance office is open and available and practicing social distancing.
The Task Force on Poverty recognizes that one of the best ways to get out of poverty is to get a better job, one with higher wages or benefits like insurance and retirement. The best resource to use? The Nebraska Department of Labor and the Alliance Career Center.