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McDuffie-based organization opens job market in surrounding counties

It's been described as the one stop that people need to make. And for people like Vivian Stewart that description turned out to be true.

Ms. Stewart worked in a factory that closed its doors in 2001. She heard about a program that would help with school and decided to take advantage of it.

The East Central Georgia Workforce Development Center, located behind Farmer's Furniture in the old K-Mart building in Thomson was able to find out Ms. Stewart's strengths, get her started in classes at Augusta Tech and help pay for her education. She will graduate with an associate's degree in accounting on July 13.

"I appreciate it a whole lot," Ms. Stewart said of what ECGWD did for her. "I probably would have gone to school (without them) but it would have taken a long time."

Ms. Stewart now works part-time for ECGWD. And there are others out there with a similar story. The Workforce Development Center, which is a federally funded non profit organization, has helped people of all ages with job training and employment search.

Their services are available to residents in 12 surrounding counties. Besides McDuffie, people in search of jobs from Columbia, Jenkins, Glascock,ŻLincoln, Hancock, Jefferson, Screven, Taliaferro, Washington, Warren and Wilkes Counties can utilize help from the center's staff and resources.

Satellite offices are set up in Sylvania and Sandersville. Also, kiosk sites in the other counties' libraries are set up so that job seekers can use a computer to search for employment. The center also works closely with the Georgia Department of Labor, Your Future Inc. and Vocational Rehabilitation here in McDuffie County.

And Interim Director Joyce Blevins gets excited about all the possibilities that the center is presenting to the public, both to those seeking jobs and to those who seek employees.

"I think the most exciting thing about this organization is you do have the ability to help people in so many ways," she said. "We are trying to change the focus from supply driven to demand driven."

ECGWD currently has many programs available to help the displaced worker, those in need of job training or additional schooling, as well as those needing a career assessment.

Also, they are starting to partner with industry to find out what employers are looking for in employees. Right now ECGWD has a contract with Shaw and Milsco to help train workers for those specific industries.

"(Business and industry) create the jobs," Mrs. Blevins said. "And if we can ... help those businesses and industries train those people and pay half their salary while they're training, that not only helps the individual who needs a job and needs training, but it helps the business and industry too."

"So it helps the employers save, and we're hoping to cut back on their turnover," said Youth Program Coordinator Angela Collins.

Ms. Collins also spoke highly of several programs available to job seekers such as KeyTrain and WorkKeys which help with reading and math ability as well as job specific skills.

Besides Ms. Stewart, there is at least one other person who found a job within ECGWD after benefiting from all of the available services. Jeanelle Ashmore is now the receptionist there.

And those are the kinds of success stories Ms. Collins and Mrs. Blevins like to see and talk about.

Web posted on Wednesday, July 7, 2004

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