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In an effort to put county residents back to work, several county officials recently met with representatives from the state employment department.
Lancaster County Council members Rudy Carter and Jack Estridge, County Administrator Steve Willis and Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. President Keith Tunnell met with officials from the newly reorganized S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce.
Formerly known as the Employment Security Commission, the department provides unemployment benefits, job opportunities and workforce services for state residents. Its main goals include promoting stable employment and economic growth, as well as connecting employers with job seekers.
Designed as an informational meeting, council members had a chance to introduce themselves to the department’s new director and express their concerns with getting jobs for the unemployed.
Tunnell gave a presentation at the meeting about the state of jobs, training and unemployment in Lancaster County.
Willis said council also wanted to express concerns about the efficiency of the local OneStop office, where county residents file for unemployment benefits and look for new jobs. He said Lancaster’s OneStop, like many throughout the state, has become overwhelmed with handling unemployment claims.
“They are just spread thin and they haven’t been doing a lot of job searches or matching folks with jobs because they’ve been swamped,” Willis said. “The department is looking at moving unemployment issues to over the computer or by telephone where calls could be answered by regional service centers. We hope it will free up local offices to be more involved in helping with jobs and matching people up.”
The meeting gave county officials a better understanding of how the Department of Employment and Workforce plans to match employees with jobs and train them for new careers.
Carter said the most important question he wanted answered was how to efficiently train many of the county’s unemployed workers so they can look for other jobs.
“We wanted to get to the bottom of why we felt not enough effort was being put forth to do training,” he said. “The meeting worked out quite well and we got some answers to things we didn’t even realize.”
Carter said he and other county officials wanted to find out who was in charge of the OneStop offices, who was in charge of training opportunities and who was setting up training programs.
“We had seen training set up at the old Thaxton buildng to train people for call centers, but that kind of went away. We were curious to find out what it would take to put training together here,” he said. “Now we know there are plans in the works to streamline the operations for the OneStop and the WIA (Workforce Investment Act).”
“The meeting ended on a very positive note and we were pleased with what we heard,” he said.
Carter said these changes will mostly likely begin Jan. 1.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416