As 2020 came to an end, Colorado unemployment claims began rising once again after months of steady declines following unprecedented increases in the spring and summer. In Jefferson County, that …
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As 2020 came to an end, Colorado unemployment claims began rising once again after months of steady declines following unprecedented increases in the spring and summer.
In Jefferson County, that meant even more residents were seeking out the services provided by the Jefferson County Business and Workforce Center, which provides resources to help facilitate connections between county workers and residents and has been dealing with extraordinary demand since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic just as it also had to rethink how it provides its services.
“When the center was open we were probably seeing 150 to 500 individuals a week depending on the time of the year,” said Michelle Foley, the program manager for the Business and Workforce Center. “We went to that to having that many people coming in or calling us per day.”
But as the center works to help clients navigate this latest spike in unemployment, it will be doing so with the help of a new and improved website that Foley believes will help both businesses and residents more easily locate, make sense of and access its offerings.
Foley said the creation of the new website, which can be accessed at jeffco.us/4157, was spurred by the realization of the center’s staff that they would no longer be able to depend on offering in-person services during the pandemic.
While the center had an existing website, Foley says many users found it difficult to use often ended up not learning about the center’s resources as a result.
“You really had to know what you were looking for in order to identify some of the services that we listed,” Foley said. “And so the way we’ve tried to identify this new website is to highlight the most common reasons people would come to us and then each of those has a tab containing those resources.”
In addition to creating the new website, Foley said the center has also adapted many of its services and offerings to the COVID-19 environment.
For example, the center now offers free online videos addressing job interviewing over Zoom as well as information for businesses about how to access PPE and other resources to keep their business operating as smoothly as possible despite everchanging range of new restrictions and rules.
Unemployed workers can also find updated information about accessing unemployment and stimulus benefits, while businesses can find out about grants and other sources of aid funding and get help with applying.
But while the center has adapted resources to being able to be offered digitally, Foley said clients can still expect a personal experience.
“What we’ve tried to do that is different is still have our workshops be instructor led,” she said. “So you can still have the benefit of some live with other people who are going through the same situation as you as well as with the instructor, which is a lot more engaging than sitting through a webinar that is pre-taped.”
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