American Job Center comes to New Milford
NEW MILFORD — A group of 20 young adults filled a high school classroom one evening last week to learn about careers in technology.
But unlike their daytime counterparts, these students are hearing presentations organized by the American Job Center, operating under the state Department of Labor, as part of a partnership with the high school’s adult education program.
This is the first semester that American Job Center has come to New Milford.
Weekly presentations focus on different industries and are geared toward adult education students earning a GED diploma, but are open to the community as well.
The recent presentation focused on tech careers.
“It’s all about getting a job and supporting yourself,” said James Amis, project manager of the TechHire ITXpress Program, an alternative to college aimed at those between ages 17 and 29.
Representatives from the American Job Center sit in the high school career center to meet with residents about possible training sessions, as well as assist them with other aspects of the job search, such as resume writing, interviewing skills and navigating the CT hires website for jobs.
“I hope it will be something the community will embrace and utilize,” said Christy Martin, New Milford’s adult education program manager. “Our hope is always to build on it.”
Martin negotiated for the Job Center to come to New Milford because she knows it is difficult for residents to get to regional centers in Danbury, Waterbury and Torrington. The hours presented a challenge for those who couldn’t visit before the centers close at 4:30 p.m.
Alexis Carter, 17, of New Milford, said about half of her peers in adult education don’t have drivers licenses and wouldn’t be able to get to the Danbury center. She plans to attend a culinary school, but she appreciates the center’s work with adult education to present other options to her class.
“It’s great that adult education is offering more than a high school diploma,” she said. “They’re giving you ways to get a job and a career. A regular high school doesn’t do that.”
Denise Babcock, the program supervisor for the American Job Center for the Northwest region, agreed it can be hard for people to get to the Danbury office for training and hopes this program helps reach a larger audience.
“We try to bring the services to them,” she said. “Often times, people don’t know what we do.”
Interested participants attend information sessions and, if eligible for the services, meet with a career navigator to discuss training options and help them find a job. The navigator stays in touch with the person throughout the training, job search and the first year in the new job. Participants are required to pass a test based on the intended training program, an it often includes ninth-grade English and math skills.
The American Job Center is funded by the Northwestern Regional Workforce Investment Board.
New Milford’s adult education program has worked with the American Job Center before, but this is the closest partnership between the two organizations yet.
“Both parties were excited to collaborate,” Martin said. “Job training and adult education go hand in hand.”
The closer relationship stems from changes to state law. The program now operates under the Workforce Investment Opportunities Act now instead of the Workforce Investment Act.
Martin said the center offers services the adult education center can’t provide on its own, including all of these career presentations that discuss the requirements and benefits for various industries.
Haileigh Paola, 17, of New Milford, said she appreciates these opportunities as she decides what career she wants to pursue.
“It’s like an open field,” she said.