WorkNow program successful in putting people to work

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WorkNow Kentucky, an employment program launched last summer, helped job seekers in the Lincoln Trail area find permanent positions. WorkNow Kentucky was a collaborative effort of the state’s workforce and human services agencies that helped nearly one in five Kentuckians find a permanent position. The program was administered through local Workforce Investment Boards, including the Lincoln Trail WIB.

WorkNow Kentucky reimbursed 100 percent of wages and benefits at the same rate as an entry-level, full-time employee with federal funding. Hourly wages ranged from $7.25 to $32.85. Job seekers who qualified were matched with employers based on their skills, interests, occupational goals and experience, as well as the needs and requirements of the employer.

“WorkNow Kentucky gave job seekers an opportunity to earn a paycheck, gain work experience and make valuable connections with employers,” said Jim Skees, business liaison for the Lincoln Trail Area Development District. “This program provided much needed support at a time when unemployment had risen above 10 percent.”

Nearly 3,000 employers participated statewide, including city governments, state parks, school districts, health care providers and manufacturers like NPR Manufacturing in Bardstown. NPR hired four people through WorkNow Kentucky and offered two permanent positions at the end of the program. Through a Lincoln Trail WIB program called Project RENEW, NPR was able to offset the cost of on-the-job training for the new employees.

 “WorkNow gave four job seekers an opportunity to get their foot in the door and interview for a full-time position with benefits,” said NPR’s human resources manager, Colla Luckett. “Our production associates require two to six months of training, so we were able to leverage two great employer assistance programs by participating in Project RENEW.”

More than 85 percent of the nearly $29 million federal dollars for WorkNow Kentucky went to more than 9,000 Kentuckians in the form of wages. This brought $1 million in tax revenue into state and local coffers.

For more information on job seeker and employer services, visit the Lincoln Trail Career Centers website at www.ltcareercenter.org.