Where to turn with job centers closed

Posted at 9:00 AM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 19:28:17-04

MENASHA (NBC 26) -- At the Fox Valley Job Center, tables are collecting dust and computers have been turned off.

Employees left in March and haven't returned.

“That’s really disappointing for us because we know as the coronavirus was shutting everything down, there were a lot of people who were either being furloughed or were being permanently laid off," Fox Valley Workforce Development Board CEO Anthony Snyder said. “We had all the equipment here that would normally help a job seeker or someone recently laid off find their next job and file for their UI (unemployment insurance).”

As many businesses now return to the office, the job centers around Wisconsin have remained closed. Snyder said there are two primary reasons for that. The first is that the necessary safety and sanitary measures aren't quite ready to go.

The other reason, Snyder said, is that the Department of Workforce Development has reassigned staff that work inside the center to now answer telephone calls for the DWD unemployment insurance helpline.

“What our mission is to help people get back to work, and it’s frustrating for me that we’re now three or four months into this and we can only help virtually," Snyder said.

Those virtual efforts have helped dozens of people. The job center's website now contains a form that people can fill out if their employment status has been impacted as a result of the pandemic. Then, a career planner for the job center can get in touch with that person and provide help on several steps of a job search process.

“We’re helping people with resumes, cover letters, job search, that type of thing," lead career planner Donna Janda said. “It’s huge and the job can be very satisfying that way. It’s amazing the feeling that you can get when you help someone.”

Snyder said about 100 people have gone through that online process, but he wants to do more. Snyder said with staff still reassigned and safety measures not in place, the centers aren't likely to open until August at the earliest. Until then, the team at the center will continue to help in any way possible.