MUST Ministries beefs up Workplace Development program

MUST Ministries buildingMUST Ministries (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Cobb County’s MUST Ministries is beefing up its Workforce Development program, as it braces for what could be a surge of jobseekers. The agency has put a jobs hotline in place and is also in the process of developing an online portal that can help clients schedule and access help.

Director of the program Nathan Marsh says so far, that uptick has not materialized but they want to be ready.

“Fear of contracting Covid and strong unemployment benefits may have paused individuals from actively engaging (with them), ” he said in an email. “We are not sure how many individuals will go back to their old jobs, people are still in a wait and see mode. “

Marsh said the changes were already in progress before the pandemic, but “Covid-19 provided us with a launch-pad opportunity. I wanted to figure out how to address services in real time and future-proof the department.”

The hotline, 470-313-1960, will help “disperse” potential clients to the agency’s employment specialists and volunteers. It will operate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Marsh said those hours will eventually be expanded.

A planned expansion of the agency’s online job services is also in the works. Marsh said help topics at their centers have included skills assessments and job-matching, as well as resume help, interview skills training, aid with applicant job tracking and in-house training programs leading to various job certifications.

Currently, the program maintains in-house hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Marsh said that’s proven to be a time period during which some jobseekers can’t connect, apparently tying in with daytime commitment, traffic and Covid-19 concerns. In response, Marsh said that a cadre of volunteer employment counselors is being trained, who will work remotely and offer help beyond those existing hours.

 “My eventual goal is to have them available for 12 hours, but we’re nowhere near that right now,” he said, with an initial training class just having completed last week.

A similar notion underlies the interactive web portal, with what the workforce director says is a couple of hour’s worth of information planned to be available on the site.

He said that may mean that some looking for work might be able to get needed information without coming in to one of their centers or otherwise seeking help.

He said the portal will also allow those accessing it to participate in mock interviews and get resume help remotely, self-schedule times that they can speak to specialists and even work jointly together with MUST personnel on needed documents in real time.

He expects the portal and associated software to be ready to go by roughly August 1.

Marsh said that a side-benefit, he hopes the changes will give the workforce program greater visibility, given that the social-service agency is  best known for help with food, clothing and housing.

“I’ve met people who have volunteered here for years and they say ‘you have a workforce development program?’ My long term goal is to get people to think of MUST as the place you go to get a job.”

 Virtual Road Race to benefit MUST Ministries

Atlanta’s Independence Day Peachtree Road Race has been postponed until November, but MUST Ministries is staging what could be called an alternative-a VIRTUAL road race dubbed “MUST Feed the Need.” It’s planned to kick off July 4and run through July 11.

The agency said runners can tackle a variety of distances and are being encouraged to send in their times for inclusion on the MUST website. All races are $30 and include a t-shirt. Proceeds will be applied to MUST’s food, housing and employment services.

More information and registration: mustministries.org

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