Hometown Jobs: Virginia Career Works Centers

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 5:48 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Did you know there are free resources in Virginia which can help you find your next career opportunity?

“There are 65 Virginia Career Works Centers around the state, no matter where you live, if you’re watching this, you’re probably close to one of those centers. And they’re really an underutilized resource that anyone can tap into for help with their career development,” said Tim Saunders, Business Engagement and Outreach Coordinator.

If you need help getting started in your career search, the people at a Virginia Career Works Center can point you in the right direction.

“When they come in, we’re going to first ask them to do a very short intake survey that will give us some basic information that we need to know to better serve them and then our resource room staff is going to help the either working on resumes, working on the job search, whatever it is that they need help with. We do have people staffing our resource room the entire time that we’re open and then if something is needed beyond what they can do, they will make a referral to one of the other agencies that’s part of our organization,” said Toni McLawhorn, Business & Development Manager.

There are some things you should know before going in.

“We’re not the unemployment office. We are here to help people find jobs and to overcome barriers that they might have…They might have little transportation or no transportation, they may need help with childcare arrangements, they might need help with purchasing clothing to wear until they get a paycheck to start coming in, they might be between jobs wanting to change and go into a new direction,” said McLawhorn.

“Not only are we plugging people into jobs that they can do right now, we’re trying to get them connected to jobs that will be in our community for a long time where they can grow and move up in their career and continue to make more and more money and find that fulfillment they’re looking for,” said Saunders.

At the center in Roanoke, the staff created a hot jobs wall.

“Because we have usually forty to fifty people walking in our center daily, instead of having a lot of paper laying around, we wanted to make an attractive way to present that. So, we created a hot jobs wall, where we can put specific job information and put copies so that people can take it with them,” said McLawhorn.

“People would be shocked at the number of jobs that exist in manufacturing and healthcare. Those are the two big occupational sectors in our part of Virginia. You think sometimes that manufacturing has moved outside of the United States. That’s not true. We have an enormous amount of manufacturing activity here in Central and Southwest Virginia and there are a lot of employers that are looking for people that pay very well, sometimes more than $20 an hour for someone that maybe has a very limited working background. So, if you’re someone that hasn’t worked in a long time and wants to get into the workforce, now is a great time and you can get connected with some great opportunities to make good money and support your family,” said Saunders.

The resources at these centers are free and can change your life.

“We encounter people during their worst day in their life, a lot of times. We’ve had someone come into our Lynchburg Center recently, who told us that she had no money in her savings account, and only $4 in her checking account, and we were thankfully able to find an employer in the community that was ready and willing and interested eager to hire her and get her plugged into a job that now she’s actually gotten a raise just in the last couple of months. She’s moved up into another role and all of that was a result of walking into a Virginia Career Works Center and getting connected to a dislocated worker career navigator who was able to help her transition from being unemployed, to having a great job now that she is able to support her family with,” said Saunders.