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CareerLink partnership paying off

Mirror photo by Patt Keith / Laura Fridirici, a career readiness adviser with the office of elementary and secondary education, tests one of the new computers available to job seekers at the new Altoona CareerLink office at the Altoona Area Public Library.

The relocation of the Blair County office of Pennsylvania CareerLink to the Altoona Area Public Library offers greater access, convenience and resources for residents at a time when employers need more workers.

The new space on the second floor of the library places resources where they are most needed by those seeking employment. It is the second such partnership between a county CareerLink office and a public library.

In October, the Cambria County office of CareerLink moved from Richland Township to downtown Johns­town’s library, said Jeff Dick, Cambria site administrator.

“It just makes sense,” he said echoing the words of a host of local and state dignitaries from various organizations who attended Altoona’s official opening Thursday.

The Blair County site moved from its former location on Fairway Drive to 1600 Fifth Ave. — within walking distance of the Altoona Area School District and a stone’s throw from the Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center. The new location places the Blair County office on several bus routes, providing easier access. Prior to the move, Blair County Commissioners Chairman Bruce Erb recounted how a Fairview resident took three buses to get to the former location.

After Blair’s CareerLink moved July 1, the library saw an increase of 2,000 visitors compared with the 10,000 visits recorded in July 2018, Jennifer Knisely, director of the Altoona Area Public Library, said.

That trend is likely to continue, Dick said, as the downtown Johnstown library has maintained an average 40 to 50 percent monthly increase in library visits the past 10 months.

The new Altoona location comes at a time when many Pennsylvania businesses are searching for qualified workers, said Jennifer Berrier, Labor & Industry deputy secretary for safety and labor management relations.

“This is proof that working together at all levels works,” she said.

The Altoona and Johnstown offices are being “closely monitored” by others in the state, and even nationally. Regional leaders have been invited to a national work force association convention later this year to share how putting job-search resources in areas where those who most need them removes “barriers to family-sustaining jobs,” Berrier said.

With rich reference resources, a library is especially helpful for displaced workers, said Glenn Miller, deputy secretary of education and commissioner for libraries, recounting a situation across the state where a highly skilled mechanic of conveyor belts heard about a new company opening a warehouse. However, the new company only accepted online applications and this worker lacked the computer know-how and computer resources to apply. He visited the local library where a reference librarian helped him set up an email account and apply electronically.

“It took several visits, but he completed the application and got the job,” Miller said. “It’s a win-win-win. It’s a win for workers seeking jobs, a win for employers who need workers and a win for the library.”

CareerLink hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Mirror Staff Writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.

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