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Industry leaders hear from WIB head

Friday, January 13, 2012

Monett industrial leaders heard about the efforts of the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) supporting local employment during the quarterly meeting of the Monett Industry Council.

Jason Jones, executive director for WIB, focused on the organization's role in the Missouri Career Center. There are two facilities operating in the seven-county southwest Missouri area, with offices in Monett and Joplin.

Jones said funding for the Missouri Career Center comes from federal workforce grants. The state of Missouri provides half the money, and the state's ability to pay has varied significantly in recent years due to the economy.

State officials have talked about eliminating funding for several career centers. Jones said efforts to keep the Monett facility open have significantly improved its chances. The biggest contribution has come from the City of Monett making the Community Center at Maple and County Road available as a new location.

Expanded space in the city building will allow greater testing of job seekers and space for computer training. Jones felt keeping the Monett office open for the next two years seems very positive.

Jones wanted Monett area industry leaders to know what services the Missouri Career Center provides in finding employees for them. In case state funding remains precarious, Jones said future opportunities may offer partnerships between WIB and the Monett Chamber of Commerce and the industries for some fee-based products that can help fund the office.

WIB is sponsoring a Southwest Missouri Workforce Summit on Jan. 12 at the Fairview Christian Church in Carthage. Geared mainly for human resource managers and economic development coordinators, the session will focus on hiring trends and skill gaps.

On Jan. 19, WIB will sponsor a jobs fair at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Joplin. Prospective employers and schools will have booths. Prospective employees are welcome to attend.

The area job situation has seen significant changes since the May 22, 2011, tornado in Joplin. Jones said at one time 800 temporary workers had come into Joplin to do recovery work. Some workers on manufacturing lines found higher paying temporary construction jobs or work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were available.

Higher paying temporary jobs will fade away in time, but Jones expects them to last well into 2012. Presaently, the Joplin area has a very competitive, tight labor market. A significant number of people are traveling from Barry and Lawrence counties to work on recovery efforts in Joplin, Jones added.

For more information about WIB, call 417-206-1717 or visit www.workforcezone.com on the Internet.

Leadership on the Industry Council changes with the new year. Under the rotating schedule, the chairmanship will go to a company at the beginning of the alphabet. The next Industry Council meeting is scheduled for March 12.

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