Southeast KANSASWORKS, with a Chanute office located in the basement of the Chapman Learning Center on the campus of Neosho County Community college, has many resources for those seeking employment and for companies looking for employees. Workforce Services Specialist at the Chanute office, Susie Ellis said KANSASWORKS helps employers and job seekers come together and find employment opportunities.
“Everything we do is free,” she said.
KANSASWORKS is a state agency, divided regionally into five Local Area Workforce Investment Boards governed by a consortium of local elected officials, local business owners and local government employees. Southeast KANSASWORKS is designated LWIB V and covers Lyon, Coffey, Miami, Anderson, Linn, Greenwood, Woodson, Allen, Bourbon, Crawford, Neosho, Wilson, Elk, Chautauqua, Montgomery, Labette and Cherokee counties.
Among the services offered by Southeast KANSASWORKS is the WorkREADY Certificate, which Ellis said validates skills for employers using the nationally recognized WorkKeys system. There are several employers in the Chanute service area that prefer job seekers who have this certificate.
The certificates are divided into four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum, and cover reading for information, applied mathematics, and finding information in graphical pieces. The proficiency levels are tied to a rough percentage of professions in the WorkKeys database for which the person with that level of certificate has the skills. Bronze certificates show that a job seeker has the skills for approximately 35 percent of jobs, silver for 65 percent, gold for 90 percent and platinum for 95 percent.
Ellis said job seekers who come to any Southeast KANSASWORKS office will be encouraged to take practice tests to see if they should take the WorkREADY test to help with their job search. The practice test is a great tool to ensure they get the highest score possible.
The certificate does not expire and is recognized nationally.
“It is a great tool to have with any job you apply for,” Ellis said.
Ellis said resume development and the development of “soft” skills or employability skills are very important in any job search. Soft skills include attendance, communication and interpersonal skills, teamwork and more, and are another area in which Southeast KANSASWORKS can help.
Anyone who comes in to Ellis’ office is encouraged to set up a kansasworks.com account and to check other sources of job information as well. The KANSASWORKS job board pulls in data from other job sites including Indeed.com and Monster.com. When the site was accessed this week, 545 jobs were available within a 25 mile radius of Chanute.
Kansasworks.com also has resources for job seekers, including those who may be thinking of retraining for another career field. It has information on labor markets, showing hiring wages and which industries are growing. The resources page also shows job fairs in the area.
Retraining services include the Kansas Health Profession Opportunity Project, which helps eligible individuals going back to school for numerous medical-related jobs. For more information, visit the Chanute office or call (620) 431-2820, ext. 634 or visit www.kansasworks.com for contact list of Southeast KANSASWORKS offices near you.
There is also an on-the-job training program, supported by a grant from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, for people who have some but not all of the skills needed by an employer. If that employer is willing, and is able to meet the wage requirements, Southeast KANSASWORKS can reimburse up to half of that employee’s wages during the training period.
Southeast KANSASWORKS has five workforce centers in Chanute, Emporia, Independence, Paola and Pittsburg. The Chanute office is a satellite office. It can be reached by calling Neosho County Community College at (620) 431-2820, then dialing extension 634 when prompted. When Ellis is unavailable, the Independence office fills in and can be reached at (620) 332-5904.