With snow on the ground and a chill in the air, there wasn’t a rush on the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission’s Workforce Development Career Coach as it opened its doors Tuesday morning in Flowery Branch.
But business has been otherwise brisk for the employment-focused operation, as the agency’s two coaches have made their way throughout the GMRC’s 13 Northeast Georgia counties, including Hall.
“Four to five days a week, we have both of them on the road,” said John Phillips, the GMRC’s workforce development director.
The coach generally travels to libraries, such as the Hall County system’s Spout Springs branch on Tuesday, and job fairs, helping residents search and apply for jobs, write resumés and cover letters and generally figure out career interests.
The Career Coach is visiting the Good Samaritan Food Bank today and Friday at 1220 McEver Road in Gainesville.
Visitors include high school graduates “who don’t want to go into college yet and don’t really know what (field) to go into,” instructor Micah Thomas said.
But then, “I’ve worked with the former vice president of a Fortune 500 company, an older gentleman who wanted to do something part time,” he said.
“We get a wide range of people, from underemployed to those who can’t find a job because of the market — where it’s still not quite picked up in that field,” Thomas said.
The GMRC works with area colleges, as well as the Georgia Department of Labor, in helping residents.
“A lot of people may need extra training, more certification, and we help provide (tuition aid) to be able to do that,” Thomas said.
“A lot of grants will offer money for just tuition, but we also offer money to help with child care, which may hold people back from being able to go to school.”
Some people may want to switch jobs or improve their job situation. In that case, the career coach, which is equipped with computers and several computer programs, can help residents with writing and updating resumes.
One program takes the user through interview skills, such as help in giving the right answer to tough questions.
The Career Coach was “a lifesaver” as it helped Wal-Mart at a job fair last fall, said Anna Anthony, human resources manager at a store on Peachtree Parkway in South Forsyth County.
“We talked to (people) without any application in front of us ... about their work history and such, but with them printing out an application (from the coach), (the hiring process) was so much better,” Anthony said.
“It’s a great asset,” she added.
The coach began operating a few years ago out of necessity, Phillips said.
“There are not a lot of career centers in (the GMRC’s region),” he said. “Some residents in our mountain counties have to drive almost 40 minutes to get to one, and the unemployed really can’t afford to do that.”
And many residents are repeat visitors, as the program often enables a sort of step-by-step process to employment.
“And we kind of help them figure out where they are in that step and point them (in the right direction),” Thomas said.