Abbott Wood, site manager of the Decatur Career Center, said it isn't always a simple solution to determine how skills of those seeking work match up with the available jobs.
"For example, say an employer wants someone with a year of forklift experience," Wood said. "A lot of people will apply for that job even though they don't have the one year of experience. They think the employer might see other qualities in their work history that would make up for the lack of a year's experience."
But if the employer decides to hire such an individual, Wood said, his agency could assist the employer with on-the-job training for that person.
"We have dollars available to help individuals go back to school or to get a job, if on-the-job training is a training component, " he said. "Those are the two things we offer regarding training."
Wood, who marks 40 years with the state in April, has been at the Decatur office since September 1995. He spoke with The Daily about the area's job climate.
Q: Has there been an increase in job seekers?
A: There really hasn't been a spike. There have been more people looking for work since the downturn in the economy in 2008. Once the economy turned down nationally, it turned down locally. We've had 7 to 8 percent unemployment. Our numbers of people seeking work remains constant.
Q: Can you quantify that?
A: The number of people who walk in seeking jobs averages about 3,000 per month.
Q: What deficiencies do you readily see in many of the job seekers?
A: The people who walk in usually don't have a computer at home, and their computer skills are generally lacking. We try to give them some assistance one-on-one, hands-on to get through the computer process, to make them self-sufficient. We will put them on a computer, stand behind them and assist where they can go online and look for jobs. They do this by going to our resource room. But we do not teach computer classes.
Q: What do you consider your jobs to be at the center?
A: To take persons off the street and do a complete registration, post their names and then search for job openings over www.joblink.alabama.gov. Those who have computers can search from home. Our main job is to inform employers of our online site they can use to post job openings.
Q: How does the online site work?
A: On a recent day, there were 1,010 jobs posted on various sites on the system within a 10-mile radius of Decatur, including all facets of industry and occupations. There were 477 on our site.
Q: How can an employer refine his job search?
A: For example, he can locate a truck driver in a specific geographical area. He can look at each candidate for the work history and determine if its someone he wants to hire.
Q: What is the most convenient way for the job seeker to be notified?
A: It's good for all who are looking for work to have an email address. They can get free email through the state system. Where we are now, it's the Internet and computers for people who are looking for work. We never see many of those seeking employment because they do their search online.
Q: You say it's difficult to know overall how skills are matching up with those seeking work. But what type jobs in this area are most prevalent?
A: We usually deal in manufacturing, retail, service industries, government and construction jobs. And when the economy is like it is now, you usually have more qualified applicants for that one job. However, I do see an exception. Employers are finding a lack of qualified applicants for multi-craft maintenance personnel in manufacturing plants.
Symone Medecke, 27, of Decatur, is an exception to walk-ins seeking jobs at the Decatur Career Center who don't have computer experience.
Medecke earned an associate degree in computer aided drafting and design at Virginia College in Huntsville. She recently moved to Decatur from Huntsville.
"I lost my job at Sam's Club, and I haven't worked in three years," she said. "I'm looking for a job in either retail or anything involving computers. When I get my resume developed, I will post it. This is a good service here."
Ronnie Thomas can be reached at 256-340-2438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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