Without the Johnston County Job Training Office, Clara Stephens says she would be lost.
“I’d be out there looking with nowhere to look without their support and guidance,” Stephens said. “I don’t know how I would have made it without them.”
Stephens, 60, is one of many helped by the office, a contracted agency of the Capital Area Workforce Development Board.
Stephens, who lives in Selma, lost her job at TT Electronics in 2009 because of layoffs; she had worked there for 20 years, she said. But thanks to the Job Training Office, she is interning at the Clayton Chamber of Commerce to get experience to apply for full-time jobs.
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After losing her job, Stephens returned to Johnston Commnunity College, where she studied office management; she graduated earlier this year. While in school, Stephens said, she also received support from multiple JCC programs
The Job Training Office helped her get through school and taught her how to apply for jobs again, Stephens said. “They help you out with the things that you need,” she said. “They have their computers there. They tell you the websites to go to to look for jobs, and if you’re having problems, they assist you with it, step by step. ... I couldn’t ask for a better company to help me.”
The Capital Area Workforce Development Board receives roughly $6 million in federal grants each year to provide free job resources in Wake and Johnston counties. Its services include job training, polishing resumes, helping clients apply for jobs and working with companies to find qualified employees. The board helped more than 10,000 people in Johnston County in 2012.
In Johnston, the board contracts with the Job Training Office. No need to make an appointment, said Rommell Oakley, head of the training office. “All they need to do is just come to the office, and we will have someone meet with them to discuss their needs,” she said.
The Job Training Office has two locations in Smithfield: 300 S. Third St., Suite A, and 224 Peedin Road.
Oakley’s office helps the young with little job experience, the old needing to learn new skills and everyone in between. The office can help clients create profiles on NCWorks, the online job database that matches employers to people with the right skills.
Oakley’s office also helps people write resumes, learn computer skills and access online training that teaches interview skills. It can even help people improve their math and reading skills.
“We have many different workshops that take place,” including mock interviews, Oakley said. “The individuals can schedule mock interviews where they actually make an appointment to come in. We record the interview, and then an adviser will sit down with them. The benefit of that is they can actually see how they’re presenting themselves, and they can observe their body language and listen to their responses.”
The Job Training Office also partners with Johnston County Industries and Johnston Community College.
The Capital Area Workforce Development Board is preparing for some changes thanks to recent state legislation.
Currently, the board signs an annual contract with Oakley’s office. But starting this coming year, it will have to open the contract process to other bidders. Even though the board has been working with Oakley for years, that could change if another provider presents a better offer.
“I think (the change) is OK,” said Pat Sturdivant, executive director of the Capital Area Workforce Development Board. “Competition is always good, and we do want the best organization possible to provide services to our citizens. It’s challenging in a sense that we’ve worked with and have a good working relationship with the Johnston County training center.”
Regardless of who ends up with the contract, roughly $2 million will continue to flow directly into Johnston County for workforce development. “It tweaks how we select the delivery of services, but it doesn’t change the service,” Sturdivant said.