September will be recognized as Workforce Development Professionals Month, and county officials say it’s an opportunity to recognize professionals who help job seekers in the community find employment.
The Merced County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the proclamation during a board meeting last week. “This is the second year that we’re being recognized for the type of work we do,” said Robert Morris, director of the county Department of Workforce Investment.
The department is now a partner of America’s Job Center of California, which links it to the state’s resources through a network of One-Stop Career Centers across California. “It certainly puts us in their network, and we’re all under one brand in California,” Morris said.
The unemployment rate in Merced County was 14.6 percent in July, up from a revised 14.1 percent in June, according to the Employment Development Department.
Merced County’s Worknet Employment Resource Centers have experienced an increase of 300 job seekers a month, officials said.
“Some of it can be linked to people whose unemployment benefits have run out, and they’re still not able to find jobs,” said C.J. Mount, who works in the Worknet office on Wardrobe Avenue in Merced. “We’re seeing more and more of that.”
Morris said the staff at the employment centers in Los Banos and Merced are trying to spread the word about the services they offer – for job seekers and employers.
For job seekers, staff can help with creating a resume, preparing for job interviews and training for those who want to enter an in-demand occupation, such as welding and truck driving. “No one really knows you can come in here and update your skills,” Morris said. The centers also offers programs for veterans, he added.
For employers, the center can help them find the right employees through a comprehensive job-skills assessment test called WorkKeys. Finding the right employees reduces turnover and hiring costs to employers, Morris said.
“It’s not just the hard skills,” Morris said. “People might be able to type, but we want to be able to help employers find people that are a good fit for the company.”
For more information on services provided for job seekers and employers, contact the Worknet offices in Merced at (209) 724-2100 or Los Banos at (209) 710-6140, or go to www.mercedworknet.com.