Stimulus Blog: Workforce Development in Pittsburgh via Stimulus Money


This is part of a continuing series of blog post on how the Stimulus Package (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act) affect Pittsburgh’s Northside.

(For the first post on the stimulus blog, click here.)

Disadvantaged and dislocated workers in the Pittsburgh area — including the Northside, of course — now have more access to free services through Pittsburgh CareerLink thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Pittsburgh’s division of the state’s CareerLink program received extra money from the government this year to help disadvantaged and dislocated workers because of its service record helping adults find well-paying jobs in the area, said program manager Judy Hill Finegan.

CareerLink offers two types of training to help qualifying adults find jobs. The first type, called intensive training, offers a “structured job search.” This includes teaching the individual any skills she might need to get a job, such as working toward a GED, learning how to write resumes and cover letters and interview skills.

The second type of training is an “individual training account,” and involves the individual in learning a new skill set in growing industries. The state has a list of hundreds of approved training courses in fields like nursing, welding, commercial driving and “green” technology like solar panels.

While CareerLink offers these services for free to qualifying adults, Hill Finegan said not all people will be able to take the unpaid time to complete a course.

“A lot of people don’t want training,” Hill Finegan said. “They want a job now because they have a gas bill.”

She also said that CareerLink tries to place people in jobs before sending them to any kind of individual training, because it’s expensive.

In order to receive either type of free training, Hill Finegan said that each adult must speak with a counselor, who will determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis, taking into account income and household size.

According to the PittMAPS Stimulus Tracker, CareerLink received an extra $505,000 for disadvantaged adults seeking employment and approximately $1 million for dislocated worker training.

Hill Finegan said she did not know exactly how many more people CareerLink would be able to help this year, because it would depend on what each individual needed. She said, “In adults we’ll help $500,000 more. At least another 100 people will be enrolled in a program.”

For those who do not qualify for the training services, CareerLink offers workshops that are open to the general public at no cost. Many of the workshops focus on similar topics as the intensive training program — such as writing resumes and cover letters or how to apply for jobs online — but are less structured and not tailored to the individual.

Hill Finegan said that anyone could post resumes on the Pittsburgh CareerLink Web site, and encouraged job seekers to come into the Downtown office, talk to a counselor and check out available workshops.

These programs are part of the City of Pittsburgh’s $46.8 million in approved projects as of June 15, 2008, up from last week’s total of $43.8 million.

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