Workforce center marks anniversary

Published 7:55 pm Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Suffolk Workforce Development Center celebrated 10 years of providing services to the community on Oct. 26.

The locally funded center started out serving about 130 people per month, said Larry Brunson, the coordinator of the center.

Now, the center serves nearly 17,000 people a year, Brunson said.

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“Suffolk really has something to be proud of,” Brunson said. “We have broken some barriers. We are looking to break other barriers in terms of making the center self-sufficient and those who come into the center self-sufficient.”

Just last year, the center helped place more than 500 people in jobs and assisted 30 people in attaining some type of educational credential that was documented by the center, Brunson said.

Among other things, the center provides one-on-one counseling and coaching, customized “soft skills” training, resume writing instruction and more for those seeking work.

It connects job seekers with community resources and, importantly in this area, is able to administer the ACT WorkKeys assessment, which is required by several large employers in the area. The assessment tests workers’ skills in applied math, applied reading and locating information.

For employers, the center provides hiring and networking events, business development events, career development training and more.

The Oct. 26 event featured an open house resource fair at its location, on the second floor of 157 N. Main St.

More than 20 vendors and employers presented their services and opportunities, and job seekers were able to submit applications on site for some careers.

Elizabeth Creamer, secretary of commerce and trade and advisor for workforce development to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and John L. Newby II, commissioner of Virginia Department of Veterans Services, were among the presenters.

Brunson gave credit to Michele Lachtara, who was coordinator of the center prior to him, for helping the center move forward. Brunson has been coordinator almost two years.

Call Brunson at 514-7740 for more information about the Workforce Development Center.