The continued challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the workforce have forced employers and jobseekers across the country to create innovative solutions. One of those solutions not only continues to connect people with jobs but also provides a blueprint for other communities to emulate across the country.
EmployLNK, the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and other local partners hosted their 2nd Drive-Thru Career Fair on July 14. This event followed the initial Drive-Thru Career Fair on May 5, where 52 employers distributed 500 bags of employment information to jobseekers at Gateway Mall.
As a growing number of people are looking for new or different employment, the need existed to grow the career fair. The July 14 event expanded upon May’s offerings as over 1,000 bags of information from 54 area employers were distributed at three Lincoln locations. Gateway Mall, Lincoln Northeast High School and F Street Neighborhood Church were the sites for the second event, as partnerships with Lincoln Public Schools’ Community Learning Centers, the South of Downtown Community Development Organization and the coalition of workforce agencies that comprise EmployLNK provided a needed community service.
While Lincoln boasts an unemployment rate of 5.0 percent according to the preliminary May 2020 numbers, there are many jobs still open and industries that have been greatly affected by the pandemic.
“We believe that sharing this information is critical to help people get back to work, especially those that were formerly in hospitality and food service,” said Bryan Seck, director of workforce development for LPED.
“In Lancaster County alone, over 26,000 residents have filed an unemployment claim since March 21. There are currently around 5,500 job openings in the county, so the work continues on getting people back into jobs and into careers.”
Other measures are being initiated by LPED and EmployLNK, specifically through text messaging. Beginning this month, a new effort allows job seekers to text ‘JOBSLNK’ to (402) 608-2057, which subscribes them to a text listserv where fresh job opening information will be provided two times per week.
A key point for job seekers to remember is that the $600/week federal unemployment payments end the last week of July. This also supplements the change to Nebraska Department of Labor policy, which mandates that all people on unemployment benefits must resume their job search as of July 12, with a previous deadline of August 1 in place. The job search criteria include provisions such as completing and submitting five job applications per week, attending a career fair and other requirements which can be found here.
EmployLNK and LPED will partner with Southeast Community College to increase job training utilization with CARES Act funding. This funding and further details on the program will be announced in the near future.
Seeing the success that Lincoln has had with these two events, other locations throughout the country have followed suit and held their own drive thru career events. By keeping things simple and safe with the contactless distribution of packets, participants have felt safe while being connected with important information on potential jobs. From part-time to full-time work, spanning careers such as construction, healthcare, manufacturing, office and others, opportunity continues to exist even in challenging circumstances.