Eastern Kentuckians and their spouses affected by layoffs due to the current COVID-19 pandemic are now eligible to receive assistance through a new program—ReWork EKY—that will help connect them with training or new job opportunities and quickly get back to work.
ReWork EKY is funded through a National Dislocated Worker Grant awarded to the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet from the U.S. Department of Labor. A $2.4 million share of that grant will be administered in the region by the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP), Inc. The grant will allow EKCEP and its partners to help dislocated workers and their spouses in its 23-county service area find new employment or retraining for a new career, with an emphasis on virtual career counseling, remote work, online training, and work-from-home careers.
“This is a trying time for our region—not only are we facing staggering unemployment numbers, but we’re also having to rethink how we work to find these people employment,” EKCEP Executive Director Jeff Whitehead said. “We have to reimagine, refocus, and reinvigorate Eastern Kentucky’s workforce and economy. With ReWork EKY, we’ll be able to better assess our clients remotely, as well as help them and our businesses find ways to make working from home work for them.”
One big change up, Whitehead added, is the implementation of Kentucky Career Edge, a virtual career services platform, where those who have been affected by COVID-19 will need to register. Clients must:
- Visit ekcep.us/careeredge
- Click on “Create Account”
- Click on “ePortfolio”
- Complete the checklist
- Under the “Program” field, ensure “COVID 19 Layoff” is selected
- Click on “Career Cluster”
- Complete a short assessment
ReWork EKY will contact you at the information you provided. If at any point you need help, you can email ReWorkEKY@ekcep.org.
ReWork EKY partners include EKCEP, Teleworks USA, SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region), and others. The program will promote virtual career and workforce services, training both workers and businesses on transitioning to remote work via our Teleworks USA initiative and EKCEP’s business services experts, as well as securing remote-work job placements for workers. The program will also deploy additional higher-skill, fully online training through existing partnerships with several higher-education providers in the region.
Furthermore, ReWork EKY is also working with local health departments and other agencies to identify and create paid, temporary humanitarian job opportunities for dislocated workers. These opportunities could involve jobs that will help these departments and agencies with pressing needs due to their growing COVID-19-related workloads, such as food and medication delivery and other duties as determined.
Kentucky has seen historic unemployment numbers since March 2020 resulting from COVID-19 layoffs or furloughs. According to data from Fitch Ratings, at least 36 percent of the state’s workforce has filed for unemployment so far, the highest such rate in the nation. According to the Kentucky Center for Statistics, Kentucky’s April 2020 unemployment rate was 15.4 percent—compared to 14.7 percent for the nation—a more than 11 percent jump from 2019.
“Eastern Kentucky has had a history of overcoming whatever hardship is thrown at us—and we think that now is no different. ReWork EKY is the light we all need during these dark times to find our way out,” Whitehead said. “We will rethink, rebuild, and ReWork EKY in the coming months to get our region back to where we need to be.”
For more information on ReWork EKY, go to www.ekcep.org EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services, administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program for dislocated coal miners and their spouses, and is the White House-designated lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org, http://www.jobsight.org and http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.