Kimberly Spears is no stranger to work, but recently it seemed it was getting tougher to find a job where she could put to use her experience and education.
With a degree in counseling and eight years of work in customer service, Spears’ résumé also included previous experience working for the state and in the private sector. But finding a new job in her chosen field wasn’t getting any easier.
“Recently, I’ve been a substitute teacher and a daycare worker just because there haven’t been very many positions I could get with the degree I have,” Spears said.
When she came across a social media post advertising a two-week program that could prepare her for the state licensure test in property and casualty insurance and included a solid job opportunity, it was an opportunity she couldn’t let pass.
The training program Spears discovered came to fruition as the result of a partnership between Teleworks USA, Digital Careers Now, Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC), Kentucky Career Center JobSight, and Big Sandy Area Community Action Program. The program quickly prepared people to get licensed as insurance agents in Kentucky, and land a job with itelBPO, a global company that provides support for a number clients across several industries.
“I was really excited about it right off the bat,” Spears said, adding that with this opportunity, not only would the costs for the training be covered, she would also be able to work from a home office via her personal computer and a high-speed internet connection.
By June 18, Spears and 16 other people were on the fast track to obtaining their state license in property and casualty insurance, beginning the two-week course on the Mayo Campus of BSCTC in Paintsville.
“I qualified and they paid for everything,” Spears said. “The course ended on a Friday and I took the test for the license on Monday, and passed it the first time. Within days after passing they were ready to have all of my paperwork filed and get me to work.”
With assistance from Teleworks USA Hub Manager Carla Gabbard and Rachelle Burchett with Digital Careers Now, Spears was ready to begin her paid online training with itelBPO, which began only a few weeks later at Teleworks USA’s Pike County Teleworks Hub. Her first day as a full-time agent with the company began on Aug. 12. Initially, Spears will work to assist customers make changes on their insurance policies as needed, and it’s a job she admits she would not be doing if not for the assistance she received in obtaining her license.
“They weren’t about to let me fail, any of us,” Spears said. “We signed on because we wanted a job and they wanted us to have a job as bad as we did.”
An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work job opportunities with multiple national and global companies. During a spring open house tour of Teleworks USA’s Hub network, staff with Teleworks USA learned of itelBPO’s need for new insurance agents in Kentucky and reached out to BSCTC and Digital Careers Now in an effort to help develop a local training program to assist eligible residents to become licensed insurance agents.
With additional collaboration from the Commonwealth School of Insurance to help deliver the training, eight of the first 17 applicants who entered the program in June are currently working full-time, noted Michael Cornett EKCEP director of agency expansion and Teleworks USA.
“At Teleworks USA and EKCEP we believe in the power of collaboration and partnership,” Cornett said. “Teleworks USA is adept at identifying legitimate teleworking opportunities and preparing folks for those jobs, but in instances like this, being able to partner with organizations like the local community colleges and Digital Careers Now adds another level of support for jobseeker clients that bolsters the efforts of all sides. We’re always open to new partnerships that can expand services and ultimately help people get to work in the digital economy.”
Cornett added that Teleworks USA is currently working on plans to deliver additional licensed insurance training to eligible participants in different locations throughout EKCEP’s 23-county service area.
As for Spears, she’s excited to have an opportunity to begin her new career, and hopes anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation will take the initiative and see what career and employment assistance is be available for them.
“Anytime you come into a program where people act like your success is part of their success, it only makes you want to succeed that much more,” Spears said. “As soon as you get in touch with someone here, you’re going to have direction, you’re going to have options.”
To find out more about teleworking opportunities in Eastern Kentucky, log on to teleworksusa.com and contact any of the agency’s eight Teleworks Hubs throughout the region.
Learn more about the types of career and employment services available to eligible jobseekers in the region by logging on to jobsight.org.
In the meantime, itelBPO will be looking to fill additional positions during a virtual job fair on Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. If interested, log on to ekcep.us/itelbpo and enter 878-656-748 to enter the event.
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 lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org and http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.