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Hoosier job seekers can find the process of gaining employment challenging, but WorkOne can help remove many of the barriers they may face, said Robyn Minton-Holmes, WorkOne's vice president of Workforce Initiatives.

Those barriers can include a need for training or education geared toward for a specific area of work; issues the disabled may face; and social concerns, such as lack of child care, housing, food stamps and more.

“We have partner organizations who provide social services as well as virtual links to other services,” Minton-Holmes said. Other partner organizations are on-site, including those that help with unemployment insurance and vocational rehabilitation.

WorkOne services are free.

“Anyone can come to WorkOne and use our services for a job search, attend a workshop, talk to someone about jobs in the area and what employers are looking for. They can simply come in and use our self-help area, or can have staff work right with them. People want sustainable incomes to support their families, so job search services are the most requested,” Minton-Holmes said.

In September 2017 WorkOne relocated its longtime presence in Gary to 504 Broadway.

“We’re so happy to be on Broadway," Minton-Holmes said. "Our office is in a nostalgic building for people in the area, and it’s nice to be in the revitalization in Gary."

A vital aspect for job seekers is WorkOne’s partnering with employers in the Region.

“Those employers tell us what qualities are essential, what they’re looking for. We have a number of tools to find that in a person,” Minton-Holmes said, including testing for basic education in reading and math skills and a test assessing ability to transfer to a different type of work.

WorkOne customers can get assistance obtaining certain certifications for different types of jobs, which sends employers a message about skill sets.

Which tests are taken depends on the type of work sought.

“And if (someone) takes the ... test that measures skills adults need on the job and misses it by two points, we refer you to help for that, empowering you to meet the qualification,” Minton-Holmes said.

Help with resumes is important. People who have applied for several jobs with no results may not realize their skills are not being communicated effectively on a resume, and WorkOne staff can assist with that.

WorkOne has workshops every day across a wide range of topics, and career advisors who are industry and career path experts help WorkOne customers find jobs.

“WorkOne representatives work with industries throughout Indiana, getting information about what employers are looking for, and trying to get the right candidate to the jobs,” Minton-Holmes said. 

Job fairs are offered often at WorkOne’s Gary location, one of nine offices across seven counties: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Stark, Jasper and Pulaski.

Minton-Holmes said transportation, health care, and distribution and logistics are the top three industries seeking employees, so job seekers are helped with obtaining some certifications for those areas.

She said employers are concerned about not just schooling and training, but also a solid work ethic that includes getting to work on time, having a positive attitude, and being able to work with a team.

People with justice issues get help in the HIRE program that works with employers and re-entry customers, and a veteran or spouse of a veteran can ask for a WorkOne veteran representative to receive priority service, with special training and scholarship opportunities available.

WorkOne is a pipeline, a continuum from youth through adulthood, said Minton-Holmes, so its Jobs for America’s Graduates program helps prepare high school students for the demands of the workplace.

“We also work with youth who have dropped out of school and want to get back in or find how to get employed,” she said.

Minton-Holmes said sometimes job seekers who have a specific job in mind may not know of other opportunities.

“We help figure out what skill you have and how that translates to other occupations. And what someone thinks of for a job may be available in only a few jobs. It’s about what employers are looking for and becoming that,” she said. “That piece of the puzzle that employers bring to the table is absolutely vital to us.”

WorkOne can cover some of the cost for some classes or training elsewhere. There are also programs like the Workforce Ready Grant that provides free training for Indiana residents of working age in Indiana’s highest-demand jobs.

“There’s also HoosierHot50Jobs, a list we check to see what’s happening locally. We use any resource we can to help our customers become what they want, as long as it’s an in-demand occupation,” Minton-Holmes said.

She said it’s gratifying to see WorkOne succeeding in its three key aspects:

• Working with an employer who has struggled to find workers and being able to prepare workers for them. “That’s a part of a good day and fun and exciting.”

• Working with partners who come together to create a shared approach to helping employers and job seekers.

• Hearing customers’ stories of how they’ve struggled and how, through WorkOne, they’ve finally been able to get a sustainable job, and how it’s helped their families.

“That’s such an important part of being able to help your community and help people have income for their families," Minton-Holmes said. "Work is a foundational aspect of our culture. Being an active worker provides routine and a community of people as it connects you with other workers. It’s very powerful to be able to participate in that, regardless of age, and especially now as people are staying in the workforce longer than they anticipated."

According to workone.com there will be more than 1 million job openings in Indiana due to retirements and the creation of new jobs by 2025.

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