JobConnect continues putting Nevadans back to work
Nevada JobConnect, which provides on-the-job training, job related equipment support, incentives for qualified businesses, recruitment services, a database for job seekers, online access to post job openings and up-to-date labor market information has grown immensely since launching in 2002.
The Northern Nevada Business Weekly published information during its first month of operations about JobConnect.
In the first six months after former Gov. Kenny Guinn launched the program, 79,000 people and 3,500 businesses were assisted with their employment needs across the state. Last year about 111,000 Nevadans visited JobConnect to benefit from its services and 15,540 individuals found employment with an average wage around $12 per hour.
Among the Nevadans who received benefits from the program last year were 9,000 military veterans who have the benefit of receiving priority services when visiting any of the 10 Nevada JobConnect offices across the state. Each location has dedicated veterans representatives that target services to veterans who are 18-24 years old, disabled, long-term unemployed or low income. All veterans however, receive priority of services in Nevada JobConnect offices throughout the state.
Through the years other programs have been implemented to help some of the most underserved, unemployed Nevadans find work in collaboration with Nevada JobConnect. One of those is the Silver State Works program.
The Silver State Works initiative was authorized by Gov. Brian Sandoval during the recession to create an opportunity for employers to help strengthen Nevada’s economy while receiving incentives to hire pre-screened qualified workers to staff their businesses. The targets for this program are individuals receiving unemployment benefits, disabled workers, ex-felons and other groups that have a difficult time getting back to work or finding employment.
The program has two major components where employers can receive up to $2,000 per employee in incentives or reimbursements for new hires that qualify for the program.
One of them is on-the-job-training function that reimburses employers for training or the salary the company pays the employee during training. The retention incentive function offers employers $500 a month for up to four months for each employee from the targeted groups hired through JobConnect that is retained.
The program was launched during the recession in order to combat the high unemployment rate across the state.
“(During the recession) there was an incredible amount of traffic in our offices and what we saw was a desperation in the workforce,” said Ron Fletcher, chief of field direction. “Compounding that with the foreclosure situation that broke lose in Nevada, it was just really a traumatic time for workers. Fortunately we’ve climbed back out of that hole but it took us quite a bit of time to get out of that unemployment hole that we were in.”
In 2002, according to data from Local Area Unemployment Statistics, the civilian labor force for Washoe County totaled 203,150 coupled with an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent.
During the years of the recession starting in 2009 the unemployment rate in Washoe County hovered between 11 and 12 percent. Since then, the workforce in Washoe County has grown and in 2016 totaled 230,356 with the unemployment rate returning to a healthy level of 5 percent.
With greater penetration in the business community, hosting various hiring events and assisting companies such as Tesla Motors, Panasonic and Amazon.com, Fletcher said the future for JobConnect is looking strong.
“I have been working with the state for more than 40 years and I don’t think in any of those years we have been as good as what JobConnect is performing today,” Fletcher said. “Our collaboration with the business community is better than it’s ever been and we are seeing more and more large employers using Nevada JobConnect as a recruiting source. I think it’s a dynamic employment program and it’s doing an excellent job putting Nevadans back to work with more jobs and better pay in all employment sectors.”
Gov. Steve Sisolak made it clear Wednesday night his latest directive urging as many Nevadans as can to stay home is not martial law but a plea for everyone not in a critical, essential industry to not go out and possibly spread the coronavirus.