Legislative Column for October 2, 2020

The social distancing requirements imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused unprecedented disruptions in our state’s economy and dramatically altered how people gather. Children all across Missouri finished the spring semester in virtual classrooms and some schools continued to rely on distant learning when classes resumed this fall. Many businesses have asked employees to work remotely, while commerce increasingly occurs online. It comes as no surprise then that idled workers will need to employ this same online technology as they seek new job opportunities.

From now through mid-December, the Office of Workforce Development will host weekly “Return Strong” Virtual Job Fairs where Missourians can learn about open positions and develop job hunting skills. The events will be conducted online and allow potential employees to search job listings, meet with hiring companies, learn how to write a resume and prepare for job interviews. The Return Strong job fairs will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Tuesday through Dec. 15 (with a week off for Thanksgiving).

Employers participating in the job fairs will showcase their companies through virtual booths, and attendees will be able to chat with employers online. Aspiring employees will need an internet connection and a computer, mobile device or tablet to attend the events. Pre-registration is required, and participants must create a profile and upload their resume so employers can contact them after the fair. Job seekers and employers alike can find more information at www.jobs.mo.gov/return-strong.

To help Missourians develop the skills to compete in today’s economy, the Office of Workforce Development has teamed up with Coursera, an online learning platform offering more than 3,800 courses taught by instructors from leading universities and corporations. Coursera courses are interactive and students work at their own pace. Course videos, readings and assignments are available in multiple languages and the program can be accessed through a mobile app so students can work on classes when and where it’s convenient. Many classes apply toward university-accredited certifications.

To learn more about the free training courses, fill out the brief survey on the Return Strong webpage and select Coursera Training option in the “I’m interested about” pull-down menu. Coursera will contact you within two business days to provide more information. The deadline for registration is Oct. 31, and courses must be completed by Dec. 31.

Displaced workers looking to enter into or advance in information technology fields may earn industry certification through the CompTIA Mentored Learning Program, available through the Missouri Office of Workforce Development. The free program offers online, instructor-led workshops covering an advanced technical computer-skills curriculum. To participate, applicants must be at least 18 years old, unemployed due to COVID-19, long-term unemployed or self-employed. Access to the internet and a computer with webcam capabilities is required. Applicants must also complete an eligibility assessment through one of Missouri’s Job Centers. For more information, select the CompTIA link on the Return Strong webpage, contact a Jobs Center or call 1-888-726-5627.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many changes to our lives. Not the least among these is a greater reliance on the internet and distance learning. Some of us struggle to navigate this new virtual environment, but we can’t deny the technology is probably here to stay. As thousands of unemployed Missourians look for a path back to the workplace, they may find an onramp to their future success on the information superhighway.

It is my great honor to represent the citizens of the 33rd Senatorial District. Although the Legislature has adjourned for 2020, I remain your senator throughout the year. If there’s anything that I can do to assist you, please feel free to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.

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Author: Editor
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