SIKESTON - Those seeking jobs and those in need of workers are able to make use of the Division of Workforce Development through the Internet or any of several Career Centers such as the one in Sikeston.
Larry Hightower, designated principal assistant for the Division of Workforce Development, traveled to the Bootheel on Friday to visit Career Centers, including the Sikeston version. It was a homecoming of sorts - Hightower worked in the same building some 25 years ago.
There are five Career Centers in the southeast corner of the state with the others at Park Hills, Caruthersville/Kennett and Poplar Bluff. The Division of Workforce Development falls under the state's Department of Economic Development.
"We have partnerships with state and local agencies come together to provide employment and training opportunities," he said. "One-stop shopping."
Some of those agencies include the Workforce Investment Board, Division of Family Services, community colleges, Adult Basic Education and DAEOC, though Hightower admitted it is different for each facility.
Those seeking jobs are assisted in their search and notified of training opportunities.
Employers are assisted in finding qualified workers without paying fees, continuing training programs and obtaining tax credits. Tax credits are available through two programs - Welfare To Work and Work Opportunities.
"Welfare To Work tax credits are available to businesses making new hires where the person might have a barrier to employment such as having been on temporary assistance," he said.
"We work with DFS to help reduce the number of persons on welfare rolls and increase the number of employed persons. Its been remarkably effective.
"We find that usually the biggest barriers to employment are not lack of transportation or motivation, but public perception," he said.
As technology advances, the Division of Workforce Development has made good use of the Internet and offers assistance through the web site: www.missouriworks.com
"Someone said to me that MissouriWORKS is one of the best kept secrets. Well, that's nice but its kind of a dubious distinction," Hightower said.
"It has all kinds of career and workforce information that businesses and job seekers can use."
Job seekers can go online in search of employment and by following a simple enrollment process, they can have an online resume completed automatically and posted on the web site.
Employers can look through the list of candidates, or post their own version of a "help wanted" sign.
The web site currently lists some 42,000 job openings and some 135,000 active job seekers.
Those seeking employment range from those holding doctorate degrees to those who have not completed high school.
"The growth of that site has really been phenomenal. Its been so dramatic," he said. "The more enrolled, the more options."
Without naming specific companies, the Web site also contains information about the best paying jobs, where the most job openings are, county/city tax rates, school district maps, county commuting patterns and many other statistics of interest to potential workers or employers. Much of the data is organized by county.
"It's just a treasure trove," he stated.
School counselors can use it too to show career alternatives to high school students. "What does it pay, where is training available, what is the outlook for that field; that information is available," he said.
"We're helping students realize the opportunities they have. Helping them realize that a high school graduate earns more than a dropout, that a college graduate earns more than a high school graduate."
Those without access to the Internet are welcome to make use of the Career Centers.
"Basically, we do business through Career Centers throughout the state," he said.
The facility in Sikeston is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is located at 202 S. Kingshighway; the telephone number is (573)-472-5250.