Job growth is heating up along with the summer weather, but it may not be enough to improve the forecast for workers whose skills are outdated or stale.
“Coming out of the recession, there is a lot of competition for well-paying jobs,” said John Dickson, Employment Security’s area director in Spokane. “Job seekers really need to sharpen their skills to stand out to employers.”
Thousands of unemployed workers have enrolled in formal training programs, but not every job seeker needs full-fledged retraining, said Margaret Hess, the department’s area director for the Olympic Peninsula.
“Some job seekers are very close to job-ready, or they have a job and they’re looking to move up,” Hess said. “A math or reading refresher or some tips on business etiquette may be all they need.”
That’s where local WorkSource centers can help, with a learning product called KeyTrain. KeyTrain provides online lessons that job seekers can take on their own, at their own pace.
The Employment Security Department has contracted with KeyTrain to make courses available for free to Washington residents – both the employed and unemployed. Individuals may obtain access by registering through their local WorkSource center.
After an initial orientation at WorkSource, they can take courses on any computer with Internet access, at their own convenience.
“KeyTrain fills an important niche in our state’s workforce development system,” said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause. “There are no classrooms, no grades, no schedules – and no tuition costs.”
In 2011, more than 26,000 people used KeyTrain to improve their marketable job skills.
There are 17 courses containing 200 lesson plans on topics such as reading, math, work habits, how to locate information, business etiquette and others. Employment counselors at WorkSource can help users pick lessons that will develop skills they need for particular lines of work.
In addition, WorkSource customers may earn KeyTrain completion certificates at no charge.
WorkSource is a statewide partnership that includes Employment Security, local workforce development councils and other state, local and nonprofit agencies that provide a comprehensive array of employment and training services to job seekers and employers. Most of the services are available at no cost to customers. Local centers are listed online at go2worksource.com.