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Services, job fair offered to laid-off ABB employees / January 13, 2020
The Virginia Career Works Center in South Boston has seen a steady flow of idled employees from ABB in the aftermath of Wednesday’s layoffs of 113 workers at the local plant.

Formerly known as the Virginia One Stop Center, the South Boston office provides assistance to job seekers through access to online job search engines like Glass Door and Indeed. Tapping the resource can be done on-line or over the phone, but the process can be somewhat tricky for non-tech savvy workers. Career Works Center staff will assist job seekers who need to create and upload their resumes to apply for a job.

“Unemployment benefits are not enough and I’m concerned my credit score may be affected,” said one laid-off ABB employee who asked not to be identified. He added, “I’m in my late forties. I thought this position would keep me financially secure through retirement.”

The ABB layoff is categorized as “trade certified,” which allows jobs seekers to receive higher payments with their unemployment benefits. These job seekers are skilled in a trade, which gives them a better chance to be hired over someone with no skills. The reason their unemployment benefits should be higher, according to the state employment agency, is because they shouldn’t remain unemployed for too long.

Although the Virginia Employment Commission anticipates that idled employees will be snapped up quickly in a strong hiring environment, that doesn’t necessarily make life any easier for people who’ve lost their jobs.

ABB workers “are not in peril, but change is difficult,” said Landon “Rock” Mason, South Center Region One Stop Director. The state’s 2.6 percent unemployment rate offers evidence of the demand among employers for committed, skilled workers. Individuals who’ve lost their positions at ABB hit the jobs market with a proven work ethic, have experience, and marketable skills, employment officials say.

Local residents are also accustomed to hitting the road for work, said Mason. “It is a transient workforce in Halifax County, they are used to traveling for better pay,” he said, adding that workers may have to drive out of the county for immediate employment.

Currently, the Career Works Center is coordinating a job fair with the Dollar General Distribution Center. Dollar General plans to hire full- and part-time employees with benefits. The job fair is scheduled to open on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Applicants must be enrolled in the VA Workforce Connections to take part; interviews will begin the first week of February.

“We are like your personal human resources department,” said Mason. The VA One Stop program will conduct interviews, pre-screen potential employees, and provide financial reimbursement up to 50 percent of new employee wages to the employer.

In addition to hosting job fairs, VA One Stop will assist employers by providing access to break-out rooms for job training or to conduct interviews.

“It is a one page application, no red tape,” said Mason, who encourages more local businesses to utilize these allocated state and federal resources.

The Virginia Career Works Center and VA One Stop services are available at the 2506 Houghton Avenue location in South Boston.

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