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'Duluth at Work' Connects Underemployed with Better-Paying Jobs

Updated: 06/14/2014 1:30 PM
Created: 06/13/2014 4:33 PM WDIO.com
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

A program in the Twin Ports that helps connect under and unemployed people with better-paying work has helped 400 people since it began in 2008, according to its coordinator.

Duluth at Work's Emily Larson said the program cooperates with Lake Superior College and SOAR Career Solutions to teach people the skills they need to get a job in specific fields.

At Epicurean in West Duluth Friday morning, several people people currently learning about machine operations toured the facility, which is hiring. The business makes thousands of cutting boards, cooking utensils and other kitchen supplies each day with hi-tech manufacturing equipment.

SOAR helps recruit candidates appropriate for the program, and the college teaches the skills needed for the potential employee to get the job. Steve Wagner, the executive director of workforce and community development at the school, said "we're providing skill level training for folks to get into what we consider high-wage, high demand occupations, which manufacturing represents."

Wagner said job candidates train together six hours each day, four days a week for 200 hours to get their Machine Operator Certificate.

According to Larson, Duluth at Work gathers funding to make it all possible. "What we find is that when people take our training and we work with them for the long term they increase their incomes on average of over 150 percent."

"This program works," Larson said. "We know this program works."

Larson is encouraging other employers to partner with Duluth at Work for their hiring needs as well. Over the last six years she said they've trained workers in fields including welding, hospitality, industrial sewing, and construction.

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