Thursday September 27, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The nation's unemployment figures, including local figures released by the state on Tuesday, are a regular topic talked about at Berk shireWorks.

BerkshireWorks, a state-designated "one-stop career center" at 160 North St. in Pittsfield, exists to offer free services to help people in Berkshire County find the resources and support services needed to find a job.

This week, Heather Boulger, executive director of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board, said one of the biggest concerns about unemployment statistics, both locally and nationally, is the number of people who have given up on looking for work.

According to August data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 884,000 people in the U.S. were considered to be these kinds of "discouraged workers."

Melanie Gelaznik, manager of program operations for BerkshireWorks, said the center is working to extend services and programs that motivate people to find work.

Though the state closed its North Adams office in June 2011, BerkshireWorks has since established part-time office hours in two northern Berkshire locations. Each Thursday, representatives will be available to help people from 9 a.m. to noon at the Adams Council on Aging (located in the former Berkshires Visitors Center), 3 Hoosac St., Adams, then from 1 to 4 p.m. at North Adams Public Library, 74 Church St., North Adams.

BerkshireWorks has no office in southern Berkshire County, but Gelaznik said BerkshireWorks representatives are available to travel there and provide assistance on an as-needed basis. The center also has specific resources to help youths and veterans find jobs.

The center can help people access computer and Internet services now required for those seeking or maintaining extended federally funded unemployment benefits. Benefit recipients are required to register with JobQuest, a free online job bank, and to complete a weekly job search log online detailing a person's efforts to find work. Failure to do this can result in a loss of benefits.

The center also offers a Job Club and workshops with Jerry Posner to help keep job seekers motivated and offer them support.

BerkshireWorks can also help people and employers enroll in an on-the-job training program. About 20 people are employed through this program. It encourages employers to take on and train job candidates by reimbursing between 50 and 90 percent of payroll wages spent during training.

Upcoming programs

On Friday: "Interview More Effectively," a workshop which will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the center in Pittsfield.

On Monday: Job Club is held every Monday from 1 to 2 p.m. The Oct. 1 workshop is titled "You Can Do It: How to Stay Motivated Throughout Your Job Search."

Oct. 17: "Ways to Make the Most of Your Job Fair Experience and Your Life," a workshop from 10 to 11:30 a.m. with training specialist Jerry Posner.

Oct. 19: Job Fair, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Pittsfield. Free.

To learn more about BerkshireWorks and all its programs, visit www.berkshireworks.org or call (413) 499-2220.