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Jobseekers in Lexington Public Library’s service population were often unaware of assistance offered, and unable to select programs which best fit their needs and skill levels. These difficulties indicated a need for a concrete plan of assessment and coaching to connect these library customers to relevant and skill-level appropriate programs already offered, such as resume and cover letter assistance, internet access, computer classes, and adult literacy instruction. In addition, we wanted to assist customers seeking to increase their competitiveness for 21st century job opportunities by providing an attainable goal and accessible instructors in a difficult economy.
We created a program, Skillsville, which organizes existing library resources. Skillsville participants meet with an instructor to assess their needs when beginning the program, and choose one of three 20 hour curricula based on this assessment: Basic Skills, focusing on adult literacy and basic computer literacy; Computer Skills, focusing on basic computer literacy and basic office software instruction; and Job Skills, focusing on basic jobseeker training classes and guided practice for participants. Participants self-report their attendance and progress, with instructors in close contact to offer encouragement and coaching as needed. After the participants complete their chosen curricula, they receive certificates of completion.
The stated goal of the project was to increase participant employability. Participant exit surveys indicate increases of 30% to 60% in confidence in the skills taught. One participant wrote, “The program really motivated me, and I have found better employment as a result of that. It also reminded me how much I love the library, and I have been frequenting several locations again.” Furthermore, one teacher described the mutual support network that has formed among participants: “I’ve noticed a real community developing…being unemployed is difficult and Skillsville has given many of its students the chance to meet others and know they aren’t alone in their struggles.” Due to Skillsville’s effectiveness, we are seeking ways to continue this program once the grant ends.