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Unemployment office offers more than just a check

Need help finding a job?

Rowan County’s NCWorks Career Center, at 1904 South Main Street in Salisbury, is more than just a place where people signup for unemployment benefits. It’s a resource to help people find work and improve their job skills. Services available at the office include:

• Computers with Internet access are free to use.

• Workshops focused on resume building, interview skills, money management, networking, self marketing and more

• Career counseling and job-placement assistance

• Veterans can receive help with their job search from specially trained staff

• Assistance for people having trouble finding a job because of a criminal record

• On-the-job training for people who are eligible

• Funding for vocational education for those who qualify

The employment situation in Rowan County improved in 2014, but there are still people looking for a job, and in some cases a better job.

One well-known, but potentially underused, resource for people looking for work is Rowan County’s NCWorks office — commonly called the unemployment office — on South Main Street in Salisbury. People may think of it as the place where people go to collect their unemployment check, but it’s really meant as a resource to help people find a job.

NCWorks, part of the state Department of Commerce, works with employers to help them connect with potential employees, according to Debbie Davis, the branch manager for Rowan County. It also provides workshops and other resources for people to use to improve their job skills.

“We connect with employers and let them know some of the things we can offer to help them find people,” Davis said.

The NCWorks website is the state’s newest tool to help match workers with employers. Companies can post job openings on the site, www.ncworks.gov, and job seekers can search for jobs by location or job type.

People can also upload their resume to the site and be matched with jobs that fit their skills, Davis said. NCWorks offices have computers with Internet available for people to use.. Weekly workshops are held where people can come in and learn how to create a resume using the NCWorks website.

Other workshops, on topics such as improving interview skills, money management and networking, are held too.

“We try to offer a variety of things to help people,” Davis said.

Rowan County’s NCWorks office also partners with the county’s Chamber of Commerce, the RowanWorks economic development organization and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College to connect people to jobs and improve the county’s workforce.

The office has 15 full-time staffers. Some specialize in working with veterans, others in helping those on unemployment find a job.

But “everybody wears a lot of different hats,” Davis said.

Debbie Davis, manager at Rowan County's NCWorks office, said people don't realize all the services available there.

Debbie Davis, manager at Rowan County’s NCWorks office, said most people don’t know about all the services available through the office.

She said one of the most common issues her office faces is helping people who haven’t had to search for a job in a long time adjust to the process.

People who file for unemployment are required to register with NCWorks and put a resume in the system, Davis said. Orientations are held that introduce people to the available services.

For people who qualify, “Intensive Services” and on-the-job training are available. The programs are offered through the Workforce Investment Act.

The Intensive Services program gives people access to career advising, basic-skills training — like math or computer skills — and online courses where they can earn certification in software such as Microsoft Word and Excel.

Jackie Music, an instructional coordinator in the office, told an orientation group the goal isn’t just to help people find any job, but a career that can provide lifelong self sufficiency.

“Our goal is to get you into a position that’s going to help you to be able to support yourself and your family,” she said.

During the recession, Davis said, her office was seeing 5,000 people a month. The number is significantly lower now, she said, but she didn’t have an exact estimate.

She said the biggest hurdle is getting people to come to the office and learn about the available resources.

“Once they start working with us, then they realize what we offer,” she said.

Contact reporter David Purtell at 704-797-4264.

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