You may not be aware of the services offered at PA CareerLink® Suburban Station (operated by JEVS Human Services), but over the past year, more than 51,000 members of the Philadelphia community have stopped by 1617 JFK Boulevard! We sat down with Nicki Woods, site administrator, to learn about several exciting additions to the job search service menu, as well as ways in which the site is seeking to help reduce barriers for those seeking employment.
Q: For those who do now know, how large is PA CareerLink Suburban Station?
A: We served over 51,000 customers last year in all stages of their job search process. This includes folks who came in for either the EARN (Employment, Advancement and Retention Network) Program or as general customers seeking our career services (for example: workshops, job search and placement, one-on-one case management, career advising, training opportunities, employment networking, etc…). In Philadelphia, there are four PA CareerLink offices; as the largest of the four, we assist approximately 41 percent of the job seekers within the system.
Q: Can anyone go to any PA CareerLink?
A: Yes. As long as you are a PA CareerLink member, you can access any of the PA CareerLink offices in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There is no cost to the job seeker for our services. You could self-enroll at www.jobgateway.pa.gov or call 215-557-2592 to get started.
Q: As this is your second year as a fully-integrated employment services center, can you tell us what some of your specific areas of focus are for the coming year?
A: Certainly! We provide comprehensive services for all job seekers and employers. We seek to provide training opportunities, job search skills and assistance while matching workers to available jobs in the area. And providing services to everyone over 17–no matter your education, age, skill level, or place in your career–means that we strive to provide services that match whatever unique circumstance a job seeker may be facing. We have hired a disability navigator; we have support for veterans and for returning citizens (who have previously been incarcerated); we work with other JEVS programs to provide additional job search and placement assistance for their clients; and we partner with other organizations, such as Clarifi, to provide services that often go along with being out of work, such as budgeting and proper monitoring of personal credit.
Some of the updates:
Services for Persons with Disabilities
PA CareerLink has recently named Josh Shusterman as its “disability navigator.” Recognizing that even the registration process can be a daunting task, Shusterman works to make the process easy and accommodating. In this capacity, he helps first-time job seekers register on the “Job Gateway,” walks them through utilization of the system and performance of a job search, helps show customers how to upload their resumes, provides a job match for persons with disabilities, explains the process of accessing services, and helps customers navigate the many daily and weekly classes that are available to job seekers.
Shusterman also reaches out to organizations who serve those with disabilities, offering on-site presentations to potential clients or organizational staff to provide an overview of CareerLink services and free registration assistance.
Services for Veterans
PA CareerLink currently has two “veteran representatives”–Kathy Miller provides intensive case management for veterans who may have multiple barriers to employment, including homelessness, while Joanne Bell exclusively advocates for and markets to employers the skills and talents of our veteran clients.
Services for Returning Citizens
Recognizing that it was important to provide services on-site for jobseekers, PA CareerLink initially teamed up with Community Learning Center to provide literacy services. While literacy services are still provided, instructor Jeff Abramowitz also provides a weekly reentry workshop for those returning from incarceration, as well as for those who work within the prison system. Last year, 298 returning citizens attended the workshop, with a significant number of customers subsequently transferring to employment or a training program.
Services for Older Philadelphians
PA CareerLink is also fortunate enough to house JEVS Career Solutions for 55+, another program operated by JEVS Human Services, designed to help mature Philadelphians find meaningful, satisfying employment. Workshops, counseling, computer instruction and placement assistance are all available at no cost; orientation sessions are led by Judy Cherry each Friday.
Services for Career Strategies
Once a week, liaison Gary Lachow is available to help marry the one-on-one approach taken by JEVS Career Strategies, with the extensive job development services offered at PA CareerLink. Lachow provides streamlined service to his clients to help them enroll and take advantage of each program’s extensive employment network.
Services for EARN Clients
PA CareerLink also houses the EARN Center, which presents a wonderful opportunity for job seekers referred via the County Assistance Office. This expands the amount of services customers can access and increases the volume of employer activity–as thousands of great candidates are in one centralized location at any given time! EARN team members assist customers with barriers to employment that they may be facing, and each week, offer three or four information sessions where job seekers are able to speak to employers about job opportunities.
Partnership with Clarifi
A counselor is available each day at PA CareerLink Suburban Station offering programs on financial literacy as well as credit score and how that number can relate to the success of someone gaining employment. One-on-one services are available, as well as counseling on budgeting, saving and housing.
Partnership with Temple University – Center for Social Policy and Community Development
Started last program year, this partnership entails a six-week customer service training program on-site. Successful participants receive a nationally-recognized retail certification.
Partnership with other JEVS Programs
Participants in a variety of JEVS Programs (including The Choice is Yours, Work Ready, Philadelphia Independence Network, Orleans Technical College, Student Transition Services and Project Success) are able to take advantage of the services offered at PA CareerLink, including job readiness workshops, computer classes, employment advising and job placement.
According to Woods, even more changes are planned for PA CareerLink Suburban Station, as it seeks to assist the needs of job seekers and combat the workforce challenges faced by Philadelphia’s employers.
“My hope for the future would be that we continue to expand the services that we currently provide, partnering with agencies that provide community services and resources,” she said. “We want to truly be that one-stop center that helps an individual–and by extension, their family, their community, their neighborhood–get back on their feet.”