Conversations over coffee aid jobs center staff to direct people to careers

Posted on: May 10, 2023

Sheri Trusty Special to The News-Messenger

OAK HARBOR – Across Ottawa County, employers, the unemployed and the underemployed are struggling in a workforce environment that can be difficult to navigate, but there is an advocate in the county that is working tirelessly to help businesses and potential employees connect and succeed.

The Ottawa County Workforce Team based at the Ottawa County OhioMeansJobs center has many services available to help, and, last week, Monica Metcalf and Megan Kimberlin highlighted those services during a series of Careers, Conversations & Coffee events held at coffee shops across the county.

Metcalf is the Manager of Employment Resources at the Ottawa County OhioMeansJobs center, and Kimberlin is the Workforce Development Supervisor for Ottawa County. The coffee shop events were held in conjunction with In-Demand Jobs Week, a statewide celebration of jobs, industries and skills that are in demand.

Ottawa County jobs office emphasizes one-on-one service

Throughout the state, workforce teams celebrated In-Demand Jobs Week with career fairs, hiring events and business spotlight campaigns. Metcalf and Kimberlin chose to approach In-Demand Jobs Week the way they approach their daily work, with one-on-one connections. The Ottawa County OhioMeansJobs center has built a reputation for offering personal service, and people often drive from Lorain County and Lucas County for career assistance.

During the coffee shop events, the women invited local employers and job seekers to stop by to hear about the services available through their office. What they learned was overwhelming. Metcalf and Kimberlin have created a remarkable foundation for workforce success in Ottawa County.

The Summer Youth Job Program helps teens ages 14 to 18 plan and prepare for their future through services such as career counseling, summer job assistance and budgeting advice. The Comprehensive Case Management and Employment Program (CCMEP) offers personalized career assistance to work-eligible people ages 14 to 24.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) offers funding to adults for education and training for in-demand careers such as LPN, administrative assistant, welder and carpenter.

“We can help people to earn certificates, diplomas and licensures,” Metcalf said. “This helps job seekers get back to work or helps upskill employees already in the workforce.”

Program can provide funds to employees with new trainees

The On-The-Job Training program provides up to $13,000 to employers to fund wages earned by eligible new trainees as they learn their job. The program helps fill in-demand employment positions.

“It helps our employers and our job seekers,” Metcalf said. “We’ll come to the business to do the paperwork. We simplify the process and then send them a check.”

The Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) program provides funds to employers to pay for skill development for current employees. The program helps increase employee productivity and business growth. IWT funds can pay for many upskill resources, including marketing training, OSHA safety certification, and robotics training.

The Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) program helps people receiving unemployment benefits reenter to the workforce.

“We send them job opportunities that pertain to them and information on schools. We give them training in resume writing,” Kimberlin said. “We try to pull them back into the workforce.”

All of the center’s services are offered in a one-on-one setting, which allows the staff to personalize services for its clients.

“We get to know our clients and their families. People will drive hours to come to us,” Kimberlin said. “Monica does a really good job of pulling skills out of people. One woman recently said she didn’t know she had marketable skills until Monica talked to her.”

Metcalf said personal attention allows the staff to empower their clients so they are better equipped to find and maintain jobs.

“We value our clients and enjoy helping them,” Kimberlin said.  

The Ottawa County OhioMeansJobs center is at 8043 W. Ohio 163 in Oak Harbor near the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. It is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. No appointment is necessary.