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Getting people back to work

Dave Linder, of Savage, lost his job January 20. Since then he has made it his full-time job to find work.

Times are tough though and there's not a lot out there. He used the Bursville Workforce Center to help him but the center is overwhelmed and can't provide much one-on-one assistance.

So when he heard about Project Work/Plan at Dakota County Technical College he decided to give it a try. What did he have to lose?

Project Work/Plan

The college started offering the program April 6 to help those who have found themselves unemployed during the current recession. The college has put together resources for people like Linder who are seeking a new career or educational opportunities. The program includes networking opportunities, access to the college's 15 computer labs, career workshops such as resume building and interviewing, information about short-term educational and training options and access to DCTC faculty as well as various community groups.

Starting at 2 p.m. each Monday through Thursday until April 23 the college will set up booths in its central commons area and provide its resources to anyone looking for work. After April 23, the college will reassess whether it will continue the program.

Hope during a weary time

On Monday afternoon, Linder, a former building engineer, found himself in the Dakota Room at the college learning how to tailor his resume to make it more appealing to potential employers. The week before he learned about the advantages of networking and took a skills assessment. Next week he will get some tips on interviewing.

"I never knew I had so many skills," said Linder about the skills assessment.

So far Linder said he has learned a lot through the DCTC program and he hopes it will result in some opportunities.

Instilling hope is a big part of why the college started the program said vice president of Institutional Advancement Sharon LaComb, who spearheaded the effort.

"Sometimes all you can offer is hope," said LaComb.

The DCTC program was put together as a response to the current economic climate. LaComb said as a member of the community the college felt it needed to help in any way it could. While it's unclear whether the action will provide much benefit LaComb hopes it will.

"We'll assess (the program) after next week and see if it seems to be meeting the need," said LaComb.

Vice president of academic affairs Ron Erickson said he feels the program has been well received so far. While attendance hasn't been huge he said the people who have come have received valuable one-on-one help they can't get elsewhere.

State Representative Phillip Sterner, who was on hand to see how the program was going, said he supports DCTC's efforts and hopes it results in residents finding jobs.

"Getting people back to work is the key," he said.

While the college hasn't put a lot financially into the program, it has put a lot of staff time into offering it. Erickson said they hope the effort and sacrifice will pay off for those who use the program.

How it works

A registration table is set up so people can sign up and get information. Representatives from various organizations including the Community Development Agency, Dakota County Employment and Economic Assistance office and the Veterans Affairs Office can answer questions regarding their services for the unemployed.

"We've had a lot of veterans," said LaComb.

Additionally, various workshops are held dealing with topics such as resume building, interviewing skills and online resources. One-on-one assistance regarding these topics is available as well.

Paul Pearson of Farmington, who lost his job at a cabinet making shop three weeks ago, said he has found the workshops helpful. He's found particular value in sessions that dealt with online resources such as and to help his job search efforts.

Getting ahead

For some, getting some additional training seems like the way to go. Pearson said he is considering it but doesn't have the time or money to seek a two- or four-year degree, so he is looking at some of the college's short term programs.

Patrick Lair, an admissions representative, said the college's short term programs have been of interest to a lot of people who have come through.

The school offers several programs and certificates that can be obtained in one to eight weeks. Some examples of shorter duration programs include first responder training, A+ certification, nursing assistant certificate and steam and hot water boilers license.

Linder was looking at attaining a boilers license to complement his experience as a building engineer. Lair said Linder's situation was pretty typical.

Offering some faith

While people are desperate for jobs, they also often need some comfort, so a representative from River Valley Church is on hand to pray for people and to ease fears.

"It can seem hopeless but we are here to offer some faith based support," said youth pastor Steve Nylin. "Our role is to be supportive and to pray with people."

Where and when

The Project Work/Plan runs 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the central commons at DCTC. The program is free and open to the public.

For more information call 651-423-8612 or email