New online platform to connect Marion County job seekers with work, training

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A new online platform aims to connect thousands of Marion County residents who have filed for unemployment since March with new job and training opportunities.

EmployIndy and Ascend Indiana on Tuesday announced the launch of the platform through the Ascend Network. Ascend provide individuals with personal support to help them find meaningful employment or training.

From March through June, more than 120,000 Marion County residents filed for unemployment benefits because of COVID-19.

The network is part of the Rapid Re-Employment Response plan, a coordinated effort by the Regional Workforce Partnership, which is comprised of not-for-profits, employers, state agencies and community organizations. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional Workforce Partnership, at the request of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, turned its attention to creating a unified plan to assist residents in getting back to work as quickly as possible.

The city allocated about $1 million of its Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds to the effort.

Now, job seekers who live or want to work in Marion County can visit employindy.org/RapidReemploymentResponse to get started.

There, they will create  a login and answer questions about their education and work experience that will help the network direct them to either jobs that are immediately available or career-readiness resources such as skill training to help them qualify for better jobs.

Organizers say job seekers will receive personalized support to help them navigate the path toward applying for a job that is equivalent to or better than their previous job.

The service is provided free to job seekers.

“Through this effort, we will connect job seekers with higher paying jobs in the region, which will mean a faster economic recovery for all residents,” Jason Kloth, president and CEO of Ascend Indiana, said in written comments. “We must create systems to rebuild our post-pandemic economy so that everyone, especially those left out of economic recovery in the past, have access to opportunities that will lead to prosperity for them and their families.”

Already, 400 employers are using the platform to market “several hundred” current job openings. It is free for employers to use the network.

“We have real jobs and real opportunities available right now,” Kloth told IBJ.

To meet the city’s goal of creating a more inclusive local economy, the network will not feature jobs that pay less than $13 an hour.

“We felt like we want to have a threshold and a standard that we’re working toward that enables people to take care of themselves and take care of their families,” Kloth said. “And that’s where our focus is.”

The platform will receive data from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to identify residents applying for unemployment benefits. Employees at Ascend will reach out to those residents to help them get logged onto the platform.

Work-ready job seekers who are enrolled in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program or have less than four years of experience will get one-on-one support from Ascend, while job seekers with a high school diploma or equivalency or a post-secondary degree and more than four years of experience will get one-on-one support from EmployIndy.

Other dislocated workers who may not be work-ready, meaning they need additional career readiness support or upskilling, will either be directed to YES Indy or WorkOne, depending on their age.

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