Job Center will pay employers to train workers

Published 10:08 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Brookhaven WIN Job Center has workers available for hire, and they’ll pay businesses to train them in suitable jobs.

An internship program available at the center pairs job seekers with employers and pays the workers’ salaries during their employment.

“The WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) is fairly new,” said job center manager Dana Hester.

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It took the place about a year ago of a program called Out of School Youth Work Experience program, but there’s some key differences between the two.

“The internship program allows eligible adults and dislocated workers to participate, in addition to youth ages 18 to 24, whereas the work experience program was specifically for youth. Also, the internship program is geared more towards finding individuals permanent placement in the workforce and allowing them to explore careers and gain the appropriate skills needed,” she said.

Hester is putting out the call for hiring managers of public businesses and non-profit organizations to sign up for the program.

In exchange for providing training for a qualified applicant, which they’ll interview, select and hire themselves, the WIN Job Center will pay the employee’s salary.

“Becoming a worksite means they would be participating in the goal of helping eligible individuals gain practical work history and obtain job specific skills during a prescribed period. Any employer who wishes to participate would still have the opportunity to interview the prospective intern and prospective interns must meet the employers qualifications and application requirements,” she said. “Of course, it is also meeting a need for the employer in filling a potential hiring need and offering.”

The program length varies from 160 hours to 320 hours, depending on the specific type of employment workers are placed in.

Participants cannot climb on roofs, operate lawn mowers, power tools, or any heavy equipment or perform any other job that is unhealthy, unsafe, illegal, or dangerous, unless they have been properly trained and certified, Hester said.

Also, some jobs are not allowable internship occupations such as grocery store checkers and baggers, stock persons, retail associates, child care workers or teachers, jobs dependent on commission, or any other type occupation or position that does not serve to fulfill the goals of the program by providing long-term career employment, she said.

The latest unemployment rate is 5.8 percent for Lincoln County, Hester said. That’s down from  6.7 percent in January and 6 percent in February, “So it seems like things are improving and we are seeing good things in the way of new businesses and growth in Brookhaven,” she said.

By providing valuable job training and experience to those workers who need a leg up finding a job, his program can help lower the unemployment rate even more.

“There are many benefits to the program for both employer and intern,” Hester said. “The employer is having a need met for a period of time while the individual is not on their payroll and the individual is gaining critical skills needed to be a productive part of the workforce in our community. It also levels the playing field some for individuals who might have been out of the workforce for quite some time or who need extra support in finding employment.

“Overall it is a wonderful program and one that we are excited about. We have several employers who participated in the program over the last year who were able to hire several of the interns.”

The internships are funded with WIOA funds which are distributed through the Department of Labor to all 17 counties of the Southcentral Mississippi Works SMW Workforce Development Area.

There is currently no limit on the number of internships available, she said.

The ultimate goal of the program is to match unemployed workers with jobs that will offer them training needed to go out and find permanent employment.

Sometimes that employment might be with the company that provided the training.

“They (interns) definitely have the potential to be hired permanently and the goal of the program is for the individual to be placed in unsubsidized employment by the end of the internship,” Hester said. “There is no obligation on the employers part to keep that person however.”