The pandemic has caused record unemployment rates across the country. In Cincinnati, the unemployment decreased to just under 5% in January. But plenty of people are still looking for work. Since October, the Community Action Agency has been helping people switch careers and find work through its rapid employment program.
Career Pathways Manager Eric Thomas says over 200 people have been helped through the program and they hope to assist up to 300 before CARES Act funding runs out.
"So the program was designed for individuals who have been affected financially by the pandemic, whether it is they've lost hours, lost a job, had to go back home because of childcare (or) school issues, the list of ways that you have been affected by COVID is pretty extensive," he says.
CAA ensures people qualify for the assistance by being under the 200% federal poverty level and have lost wages due to the pandemic. Then, they refer clients to organizations like the Greater Cincinnati Urban League or Cincinnati Works. With funding from the CARES Act, people are paid $12 per hour for job training and resume writing assistance.
Both are essential, Thomas says, because people who've been in hardest hit job fields, like the service or retail industries, have to find ways to transfer their skills into jobs that are in high demand.
"Someone who has been a server — in that capacity, you have to have communication skills, you're constantly talking to people, you're constantly interacting with people, in addition to working on a team. Being a server, you're not just you on the floor serving. You have to be able to maneuver and work with coworkers in a team setting," he said.
Once people's skills are converted into points they can add to their resume, he says that helps them find jobs, particularly in the medical field where help is in high demand right now.
"We just encourage more and more people to reach out to us, even if they're doing their own independent job searches on Indeed and all these other services, which make perfect sense. We don't discourage people from doing that. We just want to assist you and try to help you as you're doing that process," he said. "If you need assistance, we're there to provide some of those tidbits to kind of get you over the hump."
For more information about how to connect with the job training services, visit the Community Action Agency website.