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New program will help locals be work ready

COVINGTON -- Included in next year's budget for the city of Covington will be funding for a program to assist locals in obtaining and keeping jobs.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston introduced the New Leaf Workforce Development Program Monday night.

Shamica Redding, who teaches a finance and home-buying education course funded by the Covington Redevelopment and Housing authorities, gave details of the program to the council.

Redding said her clients have been requesting help with job searches and skills in addition to finance management.

"Teaching someone to manage finances is the tip of the iceberg," she said.

The Workforce Development Program will be geared to post-high school individuals who are unemployed, underemployed or not considered employable because of a lack of tools and knowledge, Redding said. As baby boomers enter retirement, communities who do not address the unemployable workforce will not succeed, she said.The four-week program will focus on basic requirements to get and maintain employment, such as computer skills, time management, goal setting, work ethic, interview skills, how to dress for success, resumes, customer service, conflict management and creating a job search plan.

Applicants will be required to pass a drug screen and participate in each section of the course to earn a certificate.

Johnston said there is a need for such a program, noting that he recently toured a local industry where managers said they are using temp workers because they can't find qualified people to fill those jobs.

Johnston said it will take $90,000 to get 300 people through the program over two years. He plans to ask the county for half of the funding. He said if county officials do not agree, he will propose the city still commit $45,000 in next year's budget, which begins July 1. Johnston said some start-up funds may be needed from the current year's budget as well. As long as local funds are used, the program can be limited to local residents; however if federal grants are obtained, residency cannot be limited.

The council did not vote on the matter Monday.