Rachel Daily Press

CEP aims to connect employers, employees

Ashland Daily Press 5/25/2016
By Sara Chase

The Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. – or simply CEP, as it is locally known – is looking to assist area individuals looking for job opportunities.

CEP Executive Director Brad Gingras said they are looking for anyone 18 years of age and older who are seeking new career opportunities. Whether they are in a job that they are just not thrilled about or they are simply looking for work, CEP can help people acquire the training that they need.

“There’s so many people that don’t know that there are entities like us that can help them out,” Gingras said. “People that just believe that they can’t afford to go to school and they need some financial assistance. That’s the type of person we’re looking for, that’s motivated, that really wants to advance their career.”

Gingras said that CEP is federally funded through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which provides dollars to help people with career training and job placement.

“So we have funding to send people through training programs with our local colleges,” he said. “But also we have dollars to place people with employers, where we can pay a portion of the wages for the employer.”

Gingras said they are looking to funnel people into training that offer good career opportunities in high-growth careers.

“We don’t just put someone in training to a dead-end job,” he said. “We’re looking at careers that offer a high growth potential.”

Gingras said that some of the primary courses they are currently seeking interested individuals for include truck driving, heavy equipment operator, critical core business skills and medical assistant.

“If there is something else that may be of interest, we can still help,” he said.

Gingras said they are in a partnership with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland and Superior and are seeking individuals that are interested in a career in the healthcare industry as they have funding available to send them through the medical assistant course.

“It’s a level above CNA so there is more responsibility but there’s also higher wages for those individuals and there’s expected shortages of medical assistances in northwest Wisconsin,” he said. “So we’re working with WITC to get people into the training program. We will pay for their courses and then they receive a great certification to just really advance their career.”

Gingras noted that WITC would be holding what they called the Summer Launch on June 7 in Ashland and June 8 in Superior.

“We want to get people into that class quickly and then if they need funding for the summer to do those classes, we have it available for them,” he said.

Gingras said CEP is also in a partnership with Northcentral Technical College, which covers Price and Taylor Counties. They are looking for individuals to go into what they call the Critical Core Business skills training, he said.

“We’re funding the entire course so it’s free for individuals interested,” he said, adding that they have a group of employers that are interested in interviewing individuals who complete the training.

“It’s pretty valuable,” Gingras said noting that it’s a relatively short training – about two weeks – and anyone willing to travel to Phillips could take advantage of it. “We’re looking to kick that off on Aug. 1 in Phillips.”

Gingras said while they have funding available to funnel people into truck driving and heavy equipment operators, there is certainly some travel required, as courses are available at Chippewa Valley Technical College, Lake Superior College and Northcentral Technical College.

“Even though the course is offered quite a distance from the Ashland area, we have funds to help support mileage so that it’s less of a burden on the individual,” he said.

Gingras explained how the funding works.

“We have this funding available, if that person is eligible for financial aid, they would have to apply for financial aid and whatever finical aid doesn’t cover that’s what we can then help cover,” he said. “We assist with tuition but you know they would have to go through the financial aid steps.”

Gingras said CEP is looking for businesses that are looking for good, motivated employees. He encouraged interested business to contact CEP as they have two different programs for employers.

“One is called our on-the-job training and on-the-job training is where we will place an individual with an employer for a contracted length of time,” he said. “We will pay 50 percent of the wage and the employer will pay 50 percent of the wage so it gives the employer and the employee almost a test run on a partnership to see if it’s the right match for each party.

“We also offer what’s called work experience where we simply put someone to work at an employer for a particular length of time and we will pay the entire wage.”

Gingras said that unemployment rates in Wisconsin right now are rising because there is a gap.

“There are so many employers that cannot find employees to work for them, so there’s really a disconnect right now between people looking for jobs and employers looking for employees so where’s this breakdown,” he said. “We are that entity that will break the barriers so that the people looking for employment and the employers looking for people can find that connection, we are that connecting entity that will help bridge that gap.

“There is a skills gap, whether it’s hard skills or whether it’s soft skills, we really are that entity that will make those positive connections between employers and people or training and people.”

Besides running the Facebook page and the job group that’s on Facebook for Ashland and Bayfield Counties, Ashland CEP Customer Service Representative Rachel Lee also helps people who stop by the Ashland office

“They can search for jobs on our computers and get signed up on the Job Center and I’m here to help with that,” she said, adding that they also have jobs posted on the in-office Job Board.

“We’ve got information about other resources they can utilize,” she said. “There’s a lot of reading that they can do and basically I’m just here to kind of help them figure out what they need and then how to get all that stuff done.”

Lee noted that using the website and applying for jobs online can be intimidating for some people.

“That’s kind of what I’m here for, I help walk them through,” she said, adding that she can help with resumes, cover letters and applications.

Gingras said Job Centers are open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and he said they have centers located in Ashland, Superior, Park Falls and Spooner.

“Stop into your local job center,” he said.

Gingras noted that people should like CEP’s Facebook page to have job leads sent right to their news feed.

For more information check out CEP on Facebook at Northwest Wisconsin CEP – Ashland, visit them online at www.nwcep.org, call them at 888-780-4237 or stop on by.

Original Article From Ashland Daily Press: CEP aims to connect employers, employees