Riverland workshops address joblessness

Published 10:47 am Tuesday, February 24, 2009

“New Directions” returns to help solve an old problem: joblessness.

The free workshop will be held at all three Riverland campuses at Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna.

The Austin campus will host the first workshop today. The other free workshops begin Wednesday at the Albert Lea campus and Thursday at the Owatonna campus.

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The workshops are designed to assist employees who have been laid off from jobs and looking for a new career or need additional training in their current field.

Participants can explore “hot job” opportunities in southeast Minnesota and learn about short-term training opportunities available to help secure these jobs.

Participants will also learn how to finance their training/education and discover methods to balance school, family and work.

Nel Zellar, assistant director of admissions at Riverland Community College, said the New Directions workshops should not be mistaken for a “job fair.”

“The New Directions worships have been held in years passed,” Zellar said. “They were originally designed to for non-traditional students and to help dislocated workers.”

As America quickly dipped into a deep recession and layoffs grew, Riverland saw a need for a newly-retooled New Directions workshop curriculum.

“We’re seeing more layoffs happen all around us,” Zellar said. “Owatonna has had over 800 layoffs in the last few weeks all by itself.”

Another target of the workshops is the segment of the population looking for a new career as well as those who have recently moved into the area and are looking for any kind of employment.

“The Workforce Development Centers in each community will be involved because of the resources they can offer,” Zellar said. “The workshops are really a collaborative of a lot of agencies who can help.”

According to Zellar, participants can take away “hope” from participating in the workshops.

“There are opportunities out there. We can give people hope in helping find them,” she said.

The workshops will be held the last Tuesday of each month in Austin, the last Wednesday at Albert Lea and the last Thursday at Owatonna.

The workshops will continue through July.

Today’s workshop will be held in Room C-123 at Riverland’s Austin campus.

All of the workshops at every campus will be held 6 to 7:30 p.m.

No pre-registration is required.

For more information, call Zellar at the Riverland admissions office 1-800-247-5239 or (507) 433-0820.