Job-Placement Centers out of Luck Training Programs Hit Rock Bottom as Employment Rate Soars

By Kimberly, James | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 12, 1998 | Go to article overview

Job-Placement Centers out of Luck Training Programs Hit Rock Bottom as Employment Rate Soars


Kimberly, James, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: James Kimberly Daily Herald Staff Writer

With an economy so robust it is producing jobs for 96 out of every 100 applicants, it would seem there is no shortage of work for anyone who wants it.

But there is one group that finds itself struggling to maintain a client base during these high economic times: those in the public job training and placement centers.

Enrollment in the federally funded programs offered by KDK Training, Employment and Business Services is at its lowest in a decade.

Likewise, the percentage of students enrolled in job training or career-related courses at Elgin Community College has declined steadily since 1994 and is at its lowest in six years.

Even the state Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, which partners with the Department of Employment Security to get the unemployed back to work and the underemployed into better careers, is having to sharpen its focus to maintain clients.

"It's a sign of the economy," said KDK Executive Director Donna Fike. "More and more people are finding jobs easier. They're finding jobs before they have to come in here for training."

Last year, KDK trained and found jobs for 724 people in Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties. That was less than half the 1,800 people it helped in 1994.

The shift in clientele has caused a shift in some of the job training priorities at KDK.

A few years ago, KDK's 35 employees could afford to spend time making sure job seekers had acceptable levels of education and vocational skills before placing them in a job. Now the agency is finding work for its clients first and then offering remedial training during off hours.

"Employers are taking whatever is out there because they need bodies in the job," Fike said. "After they take them, we're working on training: English as a second language, math and reading skills."

Much of KDK's focus now is on the Employment and Training Centers that have opened in Elgin and North Aurora with help from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, DCCA and Waubonsee and Elgin community colleges.

The centers are in a central location where the 4 percent of the work force that is unemployed - an estimated 9,270 people in Kane County - can go to file for unemployment insurance benefits, update their resumes or research help wanted ads and the skills necessary to land good-paying jobs. …

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