Do you ever wonder what became of the 265 Boise workers who were laid off in 2013? The Voyage Forward Worker Retention and Assistance team was established with a mission to connect people in need with available resources that can support personal and economic growth. The team began meeting in July 2013 and is comprised of about a dozen citizens representing our community.
The Minnesota WorkForce Center became a first point of contact for the laid off workers. There, staff from the Northeast MN Office of Job Training met individually with the laid off workers to provide information on the Dislocated Worker Program and Trade Adjustment Assistance eligibility deadlines. In addition, assistance was provided at the WorkForce Center with unemployment insurance benefits, education and career planning, community referrals, and job search strategy.
In order to provide dislocated workers with available services and resources, it was imperative to communicate, engage, and sustain a relationship with the affected workers immediately. A former Boise employee was hired as a Boise Liaison Specialist to assist with the high volume of dislocated workers. In addition, several other efforts were implemented to address the variety of dislocated worker needs such as: a monthly support group, monthly newsletter with program and resource updates;, targeted services (MNSure enrollment and computer training), a Job Fair, WorkForce Center Facebook Page, and the Voyage Forward website to name a few.
The current status of the Boise dislocated worker population is diverse. Approximately 25% of the 265 laid off workers are in retirement status, 20% were recalled to Boise permanently, and 25% are enrolled in training or have completed training to acquire new skills. Only 7% are currently looking for work with the remaining 23% having found employment; the majority of this group is locally employed.
By June 2016, Boise dislocated workers in training will have completed their programs in a variety of fields ranging from manufacturing and information technology to criminal justice and welding. Within the 12 industries represented by the dislocated worker training population; there are 35 different professional occupations in which they will be seeking employment.
The Worker Retention and Assistance Team continues to support and reach out to Boise dislocated workers, as well as other dislocated workers affected by business closings in the county. Currently, unemployed Boise workers are encouraged to meet with Northeast MN Office of Job Training staff at the WorkForce Center to determine eligibility for benefits and meet deadlines that are approaching in September 2015. For more information about the services offered at the International Falls Workforce Center, please go to www.mn.gov/deed, call 218-283-9427, or visit us at 1501 Hwy 71, Intl Falls, MN. Additional information about the Dislocated Worker program can be found on the Office of Job Training website at www.nemojt.org.
Voyage Forward Worker Retention & Assistance Team Co-Chairs,
Tammy Riley, Career Counselor, Northeast Minnesota Office of Job Training
Sheila Demenge, Workforce Development Representative, Intl Falls Workforce Center