Workforce offers help to qualifying workers

Agnes Hapka

August 17, 2013

MASON COUNTY — Help is available through Workforce West Virginia for Mason County residents who are aged 55 and older and wish to return to the workforce or update their skills for a changing job market.

John Shaw, who oversees the West Virginia territory from the northern panhandle down into this region, said that the local office for Workforce will arrange for participants to undergo a 15-hour-per-week training program at nonprofit sites, during which they will be paid at minimum wage.

After this, Shaw said, the agency will work with nonprofits and private businesses to place workers in jobs.

“We can offer to cover workers’ wages and workers’ comp for the first month if the businesses would like a trial run,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the program, which is federally funded through the Department of Labor, currently has around 120 participants.

“We’re looking for new recruits,” Shaw said. “Call the Wheeling office, and we’ll route you where you need to be.”

Those interested may also learn more about this and other programs at Shaw said that the main page has a link labeled “I am,” under which further links lead to more information.

“Click the link that says ‘an older adult’, and it will take you to several options,” Shaw said.

One of the options concerns jobs and training, Shaw noted, while another leads to information about getting help with paying bills. This is the other major program under Shaw’s supervision; it is named “BenefitsCheck-Up” and helps people in the 55 or older age bracket find help with paying bills.

“If people have any trouble navigating the site, they can call us and we’ll walk them through it,” Shaw said.

The local component of Workforce is run by Ramona Sticker, employment facilitator for Mason County. She works at the Point Pleasant office, but is there only during certain hours, usually between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

Shaw said that for those interested in the Workforce program, the best thing to do is either call the Wheeling office at (304) 218-2873. Ramona Sticker may be reached during limited hours at (304) 675-0857 or at the Point Pleasant office, which is located at 404 Main St, Point Pleasant.