Overcoming Barriers For Job Seekers

December 17, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — Michigan Works! Kent and Allegan counties is introducing a new program to help job seekers who are struggling with some kind of barrier to employment. Examples of barriers include a lack of transportation, lack of education or difficulties with English as a second language.

The organization’s “Surviving the Changing World of Work” workshop is designed to give a boost to people attempting to enter or re-enter the work force. The heart of the program is a video series featuring people from the community who have faced significant challenges and who talk about the road they took to find gainful employment.  

“It’s pretty inspirational. It uses real examples of real people telling their stories,” said Jeremy Bakken, a director at Lambert, Edwards & Associates. Lambert Edwards, a public and investor relations firm, worked with Michigan Works! to create the 20-video series.

“There are several young people in the videos, as well, who talk about the importance of their education, the challenges they faced going through school and how education has changed their lives.”

The series is basically a motivational tool that’s meant to be shared. A Michigan Works! representative will present the series to school groups, church or any other community group that requests a showing. Bakken presented the video series last week to the school-to-work counselors and guidance counselors at the Kent Intermediate School District.

“It’s not meant for people who really need a lot of specific training or a lot of specific skills,” Bakken said, noting that Michigan Works! offers more in-depth career counseling at all of its service centers.

“It’s meant for, say, the single mother trying to re-enter the work force, or the people who don’t really will see themselves as having barriers — they just know they’re having difficulty getting a job.”    

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