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WIN center helps job search efforts

The Brookhaven Mississippi Employment Security Commission officeand partner agencies are looking to help jobless citizens “WIN” intheir efforts to find new employment.

With development of the Workforce Investment Network (WIN)center, jobless citizens have a one-stop location to obtaininformation on job availability, training programs and otherjob-related activities.

“The idea is to go to one place to receive the services orinformation about the services,” said David Holland, the BrookhavenMESC office manager.

One-stop career centers were developed as a result of theWorkforce Investment Act of 1998. Mississippi and Brookhaven’sefforts regarding the centers kicked off in July 2000.

“It’s changed the way we do everything,” Holland said.

Brookhaven’s effort got a boost recently with an expansion andrenovation of the MESC office on Brookway Boulevard. The expansionprovided space for a resource center to offer a variety ofjob-related services.

The resource center includes five public use computers, withmarked websites to help in job searching; telephones; resumepreparation assistance and information on partner agencies suchCopiah-Lincoln Community College’s vocational-technical trainingprograms.

“They can look at the information and see what kind of trainingthey’re interested in,” Holland said.

Curt Thompson, MESC executive director, was impressed during arecent open house to celebrate the expansion.

“I think it’s great,” Thompson said. “This really adds alot.”

The center also provides help with Adult Basic Education and GEDprograms. Co-Lin representatives visit the Brookhaven office everytwo weeks for GED enrollment, Holland said.

Basic computer training is available through the center.

“The best thing is that it helps people know if they want to gointo further computer training,” Holland said, adding that one- andtwo-year courses are available.

In a number of cases, vouchers to cover the costs of trainingare available, Holland said. The vouchers covers tuition, books andsuppliers.

“Normally, that will be at community colleges because it’svocational-technical type training,” Holland said.

The state is divided into six Workforce Investment Areas, andthe Brookhaven office is part of the 16-county Area Three. Eachlocal office is required to have a one-stop career center.

Area Three is governed by a Workforce Investment Board, withBrookhaven represented by Shannon Aker and Brookhaven schoolssuperintendent Dr. Sam Bounds. Partners in the one-stop careercenter, which operates under Southcentral Mississippi Works,include MESC, Co-Lin, the AJFC Community Action Agency, MississippiDepartment of Rehabilitation Services, the Regional HousingAuthority and the Mississippi Job Corps Center.

With the resource center, Holland said the process is no longerlike a visit to the doctor’s office where a person waits to talk toan MESC interviewer.

“They’re doing other job-related activities while waiting totalk to an interviewer,” Holland said. “It may be they might noteven need to talk to an interviewer.”

Holland said the center offers different levels of assistance,ranging from those who may only need labor market information tothose who require more intensive help.

Holland said the Workforce Investment Act, which replaced theJob Training Partnership Act, provides more opportunities foremployment officials to help citizens find work or train for newemployment. The resource center is an important tool in thoseefforts.

“We’re trying to help them get access to all the sources,”Holland said.