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Employment agency is helping people get to work

With recent job layoffs locally and a murky outlook for 2009, a local agency is doing what they can to help.
The Full Employment Council is a one-stop shop for those who have been recently laid off, or are having a hard time finding a job. Their offices are located just east of the square on North Main Street.
Office Coordinator Carolyn VanBibber spoke to the Richmond Kiwanis Club on Tuesday and said the last couple of months have been busy times for her office.
“In the last two months, we are significantly busier,” VanBibber said. “It has really hit home.”
The council provides a wide array of services from simply letting someone use the computer, to classes, on the job training and financial assistance.
VanBibber said the most important part of her work is getting the word out to those who are looking for work so they are aware of the council’s services. She said her office has a rapid response team that was used last month when local employer Henkel had to make some voluntary and involuntary layoffs. Henkel officials supplied a meeting area where displaced employees could go and hear what the council’s services are.
On the job training and vocational training services are provided by the council. VanBibber said some of the programs send workers for on-site training, with the knowledge that if they do well it will lead into a full-time position.
Other programs send workers to job training. VanBibber said the program does not send people to two or four year school programs. She said their emphasis is on ready to work programs.
VanBibber said the council has staff members that focus on jobs that are in demand and searches for those jobs locally. She said the council doesn’t send clients to training for jobs that are commission-based or out of demand.
“We’re not going to send anybody to typewriter repair school,” she said. “It has to be in demand.”
She said the council also helps with resume writing and interview skills. She said they could also provide financial assistance for things, such as interview clothes or uniforms to gas money and car repairs.
“We don’t want to just send people out and say, ‘Ok you have a job now, so you can’t have any assistance,’” she said. “We want to get them on their feet.”
The council also finds work for teenagers in the summertime. The council sends kids to not-for-profit agencies to volunteer and then pays the teens wages. She said they do anything from dressing mannequins at the Ray County Museum to cleaning work at the Richmond Housing Authority.
“Sometimes it’s not nice because they have to clean out an oven or something, but they want summer jobs.” She said.
VanBibber said her office cannot solve problems overnight and there is a paperwork process. But she said her office would get people back on their feet if they stick with the program.
“Jobs are scarce right now and it seems like it is going to be more so, but we are finding jobs,” she said. “We tell them, ‘If you follow through it will work out in the end.’”
For more information, contact the FEC council at 816-776-3920 or visit their office at 103 E. North Main St.

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