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In this issue..
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels recently announced the development of Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps, which is a program that will give young Hoosiers the opportunity to help improve Indiana's parks, trails and natural habitats. The program will use federal stimulus funds designated for employment and training of people 16 to 24 years old. The state plans on hiring nearly 2,000 Hoosiers from around the state.
According to federal requirements, the jobs will be for Hoosiers who are between the ages of 16 and 24 and whose family incomes are at or below the poverty level (approximately $23,000 for a family of four).The jobs will start no earlier than May 1 and end no later than September 30, 2009. The jobs will pay $8.50 per hour. The state will place a top priority on hiring veterans and those currently receiving unemployment benefits who meet the program's age and income eligibility requirements.
The 2,000 jobs include projects such as restoring natural wildlife habitats, building trails, beautifying Department of Natural Resources (DNR) properties, and rehabilitating historic buildings at nearly 100 DNR sites, including state parks, reservoirs, recreation areas, state forests, nature preserves, and state historic sites. All federal dollars will go into the young workers' paychecks; the DNR will use funds already budgeted for any needed materials.
The Department of Workforce Development and DNR will oversee the program. If you know of someone interested in applying for the program, job applications are being accepted immediately online at www.in.gov/yhcc.
Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (HB1379): Passed the Senate 46-3 and the House 52-47. Creates $300M in employer taxes. Does not balance the Trust Fund. Creates the Hoosier Workers First Training Program to improve manufacturing productivity in Indiana. Requires DWD commissioner to make changes to UI eligibility in order to qualify for the maximum amount available under the federal stimulus money unless the cost of changes exceeded amount available under the stimulus. Since solvency of the fund was not achieved, a federal tax increase of $58M will begin next year on employers as well.
Regional Workforce Boards, Providers and Operators (HB1651): DEAD. Allowed Regional Workforce Board Members to serve as a regional operator, fiscal agent, service provider or direct client service provider in a region other than their own. Allowed a Regional Operator to serve as a service provider, regional workforce board member or direct client service provider in a region other than their own. Allowed a Service Provider to serve as a regional operator, fiscal agent or regional workforce board member in a region other than their own. Allowed a fiscal agent to serve as a service provider, regional workforce board member or direct client service provider in a region other than their own.
Adult Workforce Training Grants (HB1656): DEAD. Creates $3,000 per year training grants for unemployed or underemployed Indiana adult residents using federal stimulus money allocated to Indiana for dislocated worker and employment and training activities.
Department of Workforce Matters (SB84): DEAD. Renamed DWD. Requires notification to employers. Includes adjudicator, ALJ and appeals level annual training.
DWD Collections (SB477): DEAD. Authorized DWD or its agent to collect delinquent unemployment insurance assessments and benefit overpayments after filing a judgment lien for the amount due. Creates specific collection procedures for DWD to use in cases of individuals fraudulently receiving benefits.
On April 22, a job fair for armed services veterans called Operation Hire a Vet was held at Stout Field in Indianapolis. The event was a huge success.
There were 116 vendors on hand to meet and interview job-searching veterans. There were close to 2,000 veterans in attendance to take advantage of the job fair and the opportunities it provided.
Indiana Workforce Development Commissioner Teresa Voors was one of the speakers on hand to open up the event. Voors stated that Indiana “appreciates the service that our veterans have given and hopes that all veterans have the opportunity to take advantage of the many services Workforce Development and WorkOne provides in helping them get back into the workforce.”
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development and its WorkOne Centers currently has a state-wide “priority of service” campaign that allows veterans and eligible spouses to receive immediate assistance when arriving at State offices (including all 90 of our WorkOne locations).
The 2009 Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) Career Development Conference was held April 29 in Indianapolis. The conference featured guest speakers, competitions, and workshops. Student competition categories that were featured included: problem solving, public speaking and interviewing.
JAG, is a school-to-career program implemented in 700 high schools, alternative schools, community colleges, and middle schools across the United States and the United Kingdom. JAG's mission is to keep young people in school through graduation and provide work-based learning experiences that will lead to career advancement opportunities or enrollment in a postsecondary institution that leads to a rewarding career.
Among the guest speakers at this year’s conference were Miss America 2009, Katie Stam from Seymour, Indiana, Rupert Boneham from the reality television show Survivor, and featured speaker Darrel “Coach D” Andrews, who offered an upbeat, exciting and inspirational presentation to the students.
Coach D focused on three key points to be successful in life: Key #1: You must make your future dreams your current reality, Key #2: You must establish goals that lead to high expectations, Key #3: You must love yourself enough to let go of toxic relationships.
One student in particular was affected by Coach D’s positive words, Jackie Harris noted “the conference showed me that although statistics from the world show that I shouldn’t succeed, others want me to, and it helps to inspire me to keep going, and always believe that things can get better. Coach D noted “It can be done” and those words have resonated deeply with me.”
Recently, the Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI) hosted 11 postsecondary, Employment Services and Ministry officials from the Republic of Serbia. Referred to CWI by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the visitors were on a learning mission to the United States sponsored by the Heartland International group, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois. The trip was part of Heartland’s Serbian international developmental project. Heartland International works around the world designing, implementing, and managing political, economic and social development projects in addition to establishing international education exchange programs.
The guests came to the CWI office to learn more about designing and managing workforce and employment service programs, with a particular interest in youth programming. Miche Grant, CWI vice president of quality assurance and an international consultant to Eastern Europe, provided an overview of the current programs and new initiatives which are proving to be promising practices in the Northwest Indiana structure. “They gained insight into our WorkOne employment system and relationships were formed between the visitors and CWI so that informational exchanges can continue,” said Linda Woloshansky, CWI President & CEO.
CWI oversees the state’s workforce development system in the region and also offers ground-breaking solutions for employers, educators, and job seekers, ranging from innovative programming, to workplace literacy, to grants for improving workplace skills.
After experiencing layoffs, many people in Boone County have been challenged finding employment in a new industry. The opportunity to learn new skills was recently offered to a number of individuals through a unique program called “Logistics Boot Camp.” The three-week program focuses on warehouse distribution, OSHA requirements and business processes, including critical thinking and decision making. Students also receive the opportunity to have hands-on fork lift training.
In this pilot program all of the participants earned three certifications, one in warehouse distribution, one in forklift training, and one in OSHA safety. Ivy Tech was the educational partner in this venture and used accredited curriculum developed in the state of Georgia. Boone County Learning Network was another partner in the process.
The first class consisted of nine students. Some comments from the students were “they had gained so much from the experience and hoped there would be another boot camp so others would have the opportunity to learn new skills and start a new career also.”
Michelle, one of the program’s graduates noted “the interviewing process with potential employers at the end of the boot camp was extremely beneficial. It allowed the participants to know what was out there in the field of logistics.” Michelle revealed that she secured a job as a shipping coordinator at Hatchette Book Distributors located in Boone County. Michelle is absolutely thrilled with her new job and hopes all of the boot camp recipients will be hired so they can apply their new knowledge and skills and feel as valued as she does now.
With many years of experience in process improvement, human resources, training development and implementation, management, credit, business development and banking, Mary Johnson joined DWD in June of 2007 as the director of Human Resources. She came to state government hoping to make a difference in the lives of both DWD employees and the people they serve. Mary holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) Certification with the Human Resources Certification Institute.
In December of 2008, Commissioner Teresa Voors asked Mary to take over as Deputy Commissioner for Unemployment Insurance. Mary was charged with the huge task of revamping the unemployment system and how DWD provides services to customers throughout the state. Mary’s experience in human resources has helped enormously in developing performance models and training for the UI staff. Her background in processing is probably the area that has helped the most in revamping the way DWD does things. Mary said, “We make changes to help our customers, not to make our jobs easier.”
Mary oversees Unemployment Insurance Benefits which covers adjudication, benefit determinations and benefit charges. She is also responsible for appeals, the review board and customer service. Her group has an extremely important role to play especially in these hard economic times.
There are three main goals that Mary has set in place for her staff. The number one and most important goal is customer service. After that comes improved efficiency and improved processes.
DWD has made great progress in dealing with claimant issues. This has been accomplished through staff training, new technology, clarification of procedures and better communication with field offices and other internal functions such as auditing. Capitalizing on the use of new and better technology has taken UI processes away from the use of paper-based products. Moving toward the use of technology has served DWD very well in light of the unprecedented volume seen in the last few months.
Mary noted. “It is our responsibility to be accurate and timely in all our decisions and we need to continue to find the right balance between those two.
In the future, we hope to continue to refine these processes we have put into place while improving customer service for both claimants and employers.”