Program connects job seekers with employers

By John Bush -

By John Bush

LIMA — Allen Economic Development Group, in conjunction with OhioMeansJobs, has launched the second phase of its job training initiative that local officials hope will put more people to work and ultimately bolster Allen County’s economy.

The initiative, which is meant to bridge the gap between economic development and workforce development, was made possible through the Industry Workforce Alliance grant provided by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation.

“This whole initiative is employer-driven, so it’s listening to what our local employers need and assisting in matching that need,” said Jeff Sprague, president and CEO of Allen Economic Development Group and lead sponsor of the Industry Workforce Alliance Grant. “There’s opportunities for employment in Allen County, so it’s all about job creation.”

As part of the initiative, a local task force has been assembled to screen candidates for local jobs using a comprehensive evaluation process, according to a news release.

“What will make this new screening process so useful to employers is what it takes care of right up front, long before a job seeker ever sits in front of an employer,” said Doug Arthur, Link Lima program director at Allen Economic Development Group.

According to the release, interested job seekers who show up at the OhioMeansJobs office, 1501 S. Dixie Highway, Lima, are immediately asked to do a drug screen and criminal background check. After potential employees complete this step, they are assigned a coach/case manager to determine if there are barriers keeping them out of the workforce. Barriers could include drug or alcohol abuse, child care, transportation, housing, literacy or mental health issues. If it is determined any of these barriers are in the way of a candidate’s success, they are assigned to a team of experts called “success prep partners.”

“We started working a lot more collaboratively with the mental health board, the United Way, Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs, substance abuse groups — we pulled all those folks together and created a network,” Sprague said. “If a potential job candidate is identified and they have one of these barriers, then we can work with those agencies to help rectify that.”

The job seeker takes a personality assessment survey to determine the kind of job they are best suited for and in what kind of work environment they will be most likely to succeed. Next, they attend a “job survival skills workshop” that is meant to help them understand what will be expected of them in the workplace, and how to deal with problems that may arise.

The coach/case manager then meets with the potential employee to discuss options and determine the best jobs for the candidate. OhioMeansJobs will contact local businesses to invite them to interview the job seeker.

“The plan at AEDG is to assist local businesses looking to expand and to help fill those job openings with job-ready candidates,” the release states.

Joe Patton, director and workforce liaison at OhioMeansJobs, said this is the kind of process improvement that should make a difference to employers.

“We are screening the job candidates ahead of time, and removing the barriers that have caused so many people to fall short of what our local employers need,” Patton said in the news release. “Hopefully, this will significantly improve the quality of the candidates who are being interview by our employers.”

Though the grant is specific to job seekers interested in a manufacturing career, Sprague said anyone interested in participating in the job training initiative can stop by the OhioMeansJobs office during regular business hours.

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.

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