Hydro announced in August that an estimated 140 jobs would be cut at the Monett plant with the shutdown of extrusion operations. The remelt operation, which employs 60 people, will continue.
Plant manager Bob Sharpe said operations will likely continue until Nov. 1, two weeks longer than initially expected. Back orders are credited with keeping the jobs active a little longer.
According to Leslie Abram, rapid response coordinator fot the Workforce Investment Board of Southwest Missouri, based in Joplin, the Hydro situation represents the largest closure in the seven-county southwest area covered by the board.
The rapid response team set up meetings with all the affected workers shortly after the job closings were announced. Information was shared on how to file for unemployment benefits, as well as accessing retraining and other job possibilities through the Missouri Job Center in Monett.
|A series of workshops were subsequently held,|
"People need to plan while they still have some income," Abram said. "We got them to start thinking about how much they were making, the maximum amount their unemployment would be, recognize the difference and start prioritizing."
In September, tests were scheduled with the Missouri Job Center Office in Monett for earning National Career Readiness certificates (NCRC). Abram said the exams test skills in locating information, reading for information and applied math. Depending on the score, workers can receive bronze, silver, gold or platinum certificates that indicate work readiness in different areas.
"Many employers know when they see the certificate level whether or not workers have the skills or potential to learn the skills to do the job," Abram said.
All of the services through the Missouri Job Center are free.
Workshops have also been held on career options, learning about preparing a resumé and cover letters, succeeding in an interview and general job seeking. On Friday, Oct. 5, a job fair was held at the Hydro plant for the affected employees.
In January 2013, a five-day FastTrac workshop has been scheduled to provide information on how to start a business. Abram said several of the workers have expressed an interest in moving on through entrepreneurship.
Abram said workers can go on their own to the Missouri Job Center any time and access different services that are available.
"We've heard some good comments on what we're doing," Abram said. "The workers have been very receptive to what they received in the workshops."
Another transition team that coordinates its efforts through the union has been active passing information through the ranks.
"We know all of these efforts have been helpful to a different degree," Abram said. "Since people are still employed, we can't say how much we've helped. In this case, because we knew ahead of time that the jobs were ending, we could be proactive. It's a lot nicer to work with a group of people while there still is time. The panic hasn't set in yet."
Abram added that Hydro has tried to help its workers by taking advantage of the services available through the Workforce Investment Board. According to a spokesperson with the Missouri Job Center, other Monett industries have actively engaged with the Hydro worker in the job search process to fill positions in their companies.