Need a new job?
Check out a Career Lab at a library near you if you’ve experienced impact from COVID-19 such as job loss or loss of income.
Zip code 55104 is one of the hardest hit for COVID-19-related job losses.
Ramsey County and the Saint Paul Public Library have opened six Community Career Labs, including one at Rondo Community Library.
“Ten percent of Minnesotans call Ramsey County home, and our local economy has been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Ramsey County Board Chair Toni Carter. “I encourage job seekers across Ramsey County to utilize our new Community Career Labs, whether you’re ready to apply for a job, looking to brush up on skills, or just starting your job search. We’re here to help.”
“We’re thoughtfully leveraging partnerships to invest our CARES resources and efforts where needs are the highest in our communities and Career Labs are a great example of this,” said Ramsey County Commissioner and Workforce Innovation Board Member Jim McDonough.
The labs provide reservation-based computer access, printing and copying, digital literacy programs, job search and resume assistance and other workforce support programs through 2020. All sites will require face coverings, social distancing and follow public health guidelines for layout and cleaning – access is regulated and available by reservation only.
“The career labs are open for anyone who is experiencing impacts from COVID-19,” pointed out St. Paul Library Public Services Manager Rebecca Ryan. “The labs provide computer and internet access, free printing, scanning, and faxing for job-related outcomes, and some physically distanced help. The labs are quiet spaces for people who need to focus on resume writing, job search, and career pathways training or re-training.”
She added, “We take the safety of our visitors and staff very seriously and have put in place a number of changes to make sure our labs are low risk indoor spaces.”
Folks are using Career Labs
to find jobs
Ryan shared a few stories of folks who have used the Career Lab.
• In August, patron Mary got a part-time job at Target after job searching at Dayton’s Bluff Career Lab. She returned to the Career Lab to share the good news, and completed her hiring paperwork in the Career Lab.
• Also in August, patron Dennis got a job interview after applying to several jobs at Dayton’s Bluff over a series of computer reservations. He hasn’t returned to the Career Lab, so staff suspect he found employment.
• In October, a patron told Career Lab staff that she had picked up a COVID-19 Relief Assistance Application form (from Community Action) from Dayton’s Bluff Career Lab, filled it out for housing assistance and was able to get help. She needed support after being laid off from her job during the pandemic. She continues to visit the Career Lab for job search/application support.
• A patron came into Rondo to work on his resume with staff assistance. He returned the next day wanting to apply for a custodial job at a local college or university. Staff helped him (over two hours that day) to find an open custodial position at a university located in Saint Paul. He successfully completed the application with staff help and said he planned to stop in again for help with further applications. He had experienced job loss due to COVID-19.
“Collaborating with Ramsey County to provide these services to our community is really rewarding, remarked Ryan. “When libraries closed in response to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were extremely worried as we knew how many community members relied on the library for access to the internet, technical assistance with job search, and more. While we aren’t open in the same way we were pre-COVID, we have tried to fulfill high priority need in the community.”
Career labs staff have gathered a wide variety of resources relating to career pathways, successful job search, and more that they share with users. “Our staff are practiced in helping job seekers with myriad technical issues,” said Ryan.
The career labs also offer space for physically distanced in-person meetings for digital navigators – people working with recipients of Ramsey County’s Techpak lottery.
Career labs staff collaborated with Ramsey County to offer an in-person Beginning Resume Learning Circle at Rondo Library for four Tuesdays starting in October. Participants left with a completed, updated resume.
The labs are one of a number of programs funded by Ramsey County Investment and Support Efforts through the federal CARES Act. (See sidebar)
“Libraries are recognized as trusted, safe spaces for learning, enrichment and community support,” observed Saint Paul Public Library Board Chair and City Council Member Jane Prince. “We are proud to adapt our Dayton’s Bluff, Rondo, Sun Ray and Rice Street locations as Community Career Labs providing critical job services for our neighbors and families who need it the most.”
“Connecting residents to economic opportunity is vital,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “Our Community Career Labs will offer the access, support and resources to ensure no one is left behind.”
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