Thanks to a pilot program through Scotland County Joblink called “Opportunity North Carolina,” Scotland County residents receiving unemployment insurance benefits now have an opportunity to get a leg up on the competition for workforce vacancies.
Opportunity NC, currently being managed by the Scotland County Employment Services (Joblink) office of the Department of Commerce Division of Workforce Solutions , allows employers to take on potential employees for up-to-six weeks of training (max. 24 hours per week), and at the end of the six weeks the potential employee may be offered a position with the employer.
“It’s like an extended job interview,” said Betty Galloway, manager of the Scotland County Employment Services office.
“It’s a really good opportunity for both employers and job-seekers because both get a chance to see if the other is a good fit.”
Individuals matched with an employer are exempt from unemployment insurance’s job seeking requirements while they are training and also receive a $100 weekly training allowance to cover expenses.
Scotland County is one of six counties currently running the pilot program, which began in March of 2011.
Since its start 23 benefits recipients have entered training, with eight completing the course. Six of the eight that completed training were hired to the company they trained with.
While mostly manufacturing firms have participated on the employer side, Galloway is seeking the participation of employers in other sectors.
“Every employer is invited to participate in this program, no matter what area,” said Galloway.
The Opportunity NC program provides for workman’s compensation for potential employees during training.
The program is currently funded through June 30, and Galloway said that they are currently trying to make a push to boost enrollment.
“As a potential employee you really get a sense of a day in the life on the job, and if you are hired, then that’s one less person receiving benefits – and that is what the program was designed to do.”
Galloway noted that she it is currently unclear whether the North Carolina General Assembly will continue to fund the Opportunity North Carolina beyond this year.