CAA offers job search assistance

The Harlan County Community Action Agency has a number of programs available to assist those unemployed and under-employed persons who qualify and are searching for employment.

Workforce Investment and Opportunities Act (WIOA) Director Jill Blevins talked about some of the avenues the Agency offers.

“We assist clients who are either dislocated workers — laid off from a job — or in school and out of school youths and adults…we help them either retrain or increase their skills to get a job,” Blevins said. “We offer Job Club, resume writing, mock interviews, the whole nine yards.”

According to Blevins, anybody who wants to take part can contact the CAA to see if they qualify.

“If we don’t have anyone on our schedule we’ll see them that day,” Blevins said. “We see walk-ins or they can call and make an appointment. We never turn anybody away really.”

She pointed out the agency also assists with signing up for unemployment.

Blevins also explained Paths to Promise, a new program open to eligible people between the ages of 16 and 58.

“That is a program for SNAP recipients,” Blevins explained. “To be eligible, you cannot have a child under six years of age in the home.”

KTAP or disability recipients are not eligible for Paths to Promise.

Anybody wishing to participate in the Paths to Promise program should inquire soon, as the program will end this year.

“That program began in April, 2016,” Blevins said. “We will stop taking recruits past March of this year, and the program will end in December.”

Blevins stated the goal of the Paths to Promise is to assist people in getting off of food stamps.

“Our goal is to either train them or educate them so they won’t have to be dependent on public assistance,” Blevins said. “That may mean getting a GED…we have a lot who have gotten certifications in medical assisting, we’ve had a lot of success with that program.”

Paths to Promise is a pilot project, according to Blevins.

“They can do work experience or OJT (on the job training),” Blevins said. “If they are enrolled in a training program or doing work experience, they may receive transportation assistance and child care may be available.”

Many people have successfully completed the program.

“We have one person who recently was accepted into the Kentucky State Police,” Blevins said. “That was his goal all along.”

Blevins said the individual participated in the program in order to complete the education requirements for applying with the Kentucky State Police.

Blevins said many former coal miners have completed lineman training through CAA.

“We have a lot of clients who have successfully completed the lineman training, and they seem to love it,” Blevins said.

Linemen perform work on electrical lines, utility poles and other equipment. The pay, according to Blevins, is eventually comparable to mining wages.

“The only drawback is most of the time they have to work away from here,” Blevins said.

The lineman training program is a 12-week program.

“With that, they get the lineman training, the CDL (commercial driver license) and they get fiber optic training as well,” Blevins said.

Blevins also explained the agency has programs specifically for younger people looking for employment.

“We work with in school and out of school youth,” Blevins said. “We assist them with training and work experience. As of right now, because we are in a Promise Zone, if they live in Harlan County all the youth are eligible.”

To take part in the programs, you must meet certain requirements.

“If you’re an adult and you are employed and make under $13.40 per hour you’re eligible,” Blevins said. “If you’re looking at one of the dislocated worker programs, you must be receiving unemployment or exhausted your benefits.”

She said the youth programs are available to those in or out of school.

“In school youth can be in either college or a high school junior or senior,” Blevins said. “Out of school youth are considered to be 18 to 24 years old.”

Blevins explained services and requirements continually change, therefore anybody who is interested is encouraged to contact the agency.

“A lot of people that may not have been eligible five years ago may now be eligible,” Blevins said.

There are also services available for businesses which may be looking for employees or simply wish to offer work experience at no cost to the business.

“We have a business service rep who works with businesses,” Blevins said. “There are services we can offer businesses through work experience and on the job training programs. For work experience programs, we pay the whole salary, and for on the job training programs we can reimburse.”

Blevins explained the workers must be paid at least $10 per hour.

“We also work with the department of labor for apprenticeships,” Blevins said.

Anybody interested in any of the programs may go to the CAA offices located in the old National Guard Armory at 319 Camden Street in Sunshine or call 606-573-5335.