Workforce organizations offering virtual services for unemployed

Updated: April 10, 2020 12:22 PM

With the high number of people getting laid off during this pandemic, workforce organizations have been working nonstop to help people virtually through unemployment benefits and resources.

"In St. Louis County there have been almost 14,000 applications for unemployment in the last three weeks since restaurants were closed in the middle of March, compared to an average of about 1,000 applications per month over the last couple years," said Elena Foshay, the Duluth CareerForce director.

Unemployment is a harsh reality many are facing right now. Workforce organizations are working hard to offer guidance virtually, through employment, training, and career development services.

"There is some recorded workshops on the CareerForce website on interview skills, resume writing, and we just launched some live interactive webinars," said Foshay. "There's just been a lot of questions about unemployment or making sure that workers get connected to available resources and then businesses are struggling to look at the different loan programs too so we're there as a resource as well for businesses."

Debra Leslie, the CEO of Wisconsin's Workforce Resource, said they continue to provide services over the phone at 855-792-5439 by appointment. They are open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. You can also email them at

Workforce Resource serves 21 counties in West Central and Northern Wisconsin. Services include FoodShare Employment & Training, Wisconsin Works, Affordable Care Act, Senior Community Services Employment Program, Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, YouthBuild, and Independent Living.

"We can assist with transportation, training, interview clothes, supportive services as well that they can participate in remotely to get them geared up for interviews. Whether it's looking at resumes or some problem solving teamwork, anything that can help with the soft skills needed when things open up again and they're looking for employment," said Leslie.

Workforce counselors are doing phone and online meetings to help people enroll in programs and are even looking into setting up virtual job fairs.

"That's really nice about the federal programs that we operate is that they've relaxed some of the rules," said Leslie.

"We're trying to reach out to employers in our community to identify those jobs that are available and post them on our Facebook page," said Foshay.

They say now is the time to take advantage of these programs and services in order to be a step ahead and prepared for work opportunities that will open in the future.

"There's people that are going through in preparing and getting the workshops and getting the resumes and the resources needed. When things do open up again they'll be one step ahead because of the preparation and the resources that they have taken advantage of during this time," said Leslie.

"We encourage folks to reach out and we can provide one on one system assistance to help figure out what the next steps are," said Foshay.

Foshay also encourages people to apply for unemployment and the dislocated worker program. She says there will be more opportunities for more people to become eligible for benefits such as those who are self-employed or independent contractors.

To contact CareerForce Duluth, call 218-302-8400. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m-4:30 p.m.

 You can also reach them by email at or

The Facebook page is Duluth Workforce Development 

To access the website, go to:

Questions and application for Unemployment Insurance can be accessed by going to: 

If you would like a CareerForce representative to review your resume and provide feedback: You can follow the "resumes" link in your account and fill in the resume template, then email a notification to that your resume has been entered into Minnesotaworks. Please include your full name in the subject line.

You can also email your resume as a Microsoft Word attachment to with your full name in the subject line.

You can talk to a CareerForce Representative one-on-one to get advice on job search topics and to learn more about other services available. Call at 218-302-8406 or email to schedule a personalized session.

CareerForce now has online workshops on job search, resume writing and interview skills along with links to several online resources at:

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