How to job search in North Texas during the pandemic

Trish Choate, Wichita Falls Times Record News
Published 5:11 p.m. CT April 12, 2020

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Wichita County sheriff's Deputy Brien Conner recruits at a recent Workforce Solutions North Texas job fair. (Photo: Courtesy/Workforce Solutions North Texas)

North Texans can turn to Workforce Solutions North Texas for help looking for work as the economy sheds jobs during the pandemic. They can also find out if they qualify for assistance with education for a new career through the public agency focused on employment and training. 

Kendra Ball of WSNT had some good news for job seekers.

“There are quite a few local employers who are hiring still,” Ball, WSNT business and outreach manager, said.

She encouraged job seekers to tap into agency’s free services available locally and the state website for employment, www.WorkinTexas.com. Registering on the website is their first step.

Ball also encouraged people to call WSNT at 940-322-1801 and select Option 2 for help with employment. The local agency can also be reached through email at employmentservices2@ntxworksolutions.org.

She said www.WorkinTexas.com links to over 20,000 websites and can search for jobs locally and statewide.

“Every night, it loads new jobs and takes down jobs that are no longer available,” she said.

Workforce Solutions North Texas serves as a one-stop solution for employers and job seekers in the counties of Archer, Baylor, Clay, Cottle, Foard, Hardeman, Jack, Montague, Wichita, Wilbarger and Young.

Workforce Solutions North Texas (Photo: Courtesy/Workforce Solutions North Texas)

As a state of Texas workforce center, the agency has offices in Wichita Falls, Bowie, Graham and Vernon.

WSNT is not providing in-person services in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“But we have not laid off any of our staff,” Ball said. “Everyone is still taking calls and emails, and providing assistance.”

Kendra Ball of Workforce Solutions North Texas (Photo: Courtesy/Workforce Solutions North Texas)

Ball said WSNT is working on getting some of its workshops online, such as a resume seminar, through its YouTube.com channel. 

It also tweets job openings from @WFSNorthTexas. The agency has posted a YouTube video on Facebook explaining what services it offers and the basics of applying for unemployment.

Ball said WSNT doesn’t process unemployment claims. The Texas Workforce Commission does that at the state level.

“But if someone needs help figuring out how to get onto the website, or if they have a question about something they have received in the mail, a lot of times we can point them in the right direction,” she said.

However, WSNT staff members are restricted as to what help they can provide regarding unemployment claims because they aren’t trained in that area, Ball said.

The U.S. 2020 Census is hiring. These Census representatives were recruiting during a recent Workforce Solutions North Texas job fair. (Photo: Courtesy/Wokforce Solutions North Texas)

Getting through online or by phone to the TWC has been extremely difficult because the COVID-19 emergency has thrown so many Texans out of work.  

Over 700,000 filed claims for unemployment benefits from about mid-March to April 6, officials said. That’s more than the TWC took in for all of 2019.

“Nobody could know to expect or prepare for the sheer volume of people trying to get through to unemployment,” Ball said.

The Wichita County Sheriff's Office recruits at a recent Workforce Solutions North Texas job fair. (Photo: Courtesy/Workforce Solutions North Texas)

In any case, here are some possibilities for local job seekers:

Stockers and delivery drivers at local grocersWorkers at North Texas State Hospital’s Vernon and Wichita Falls campusesTeachers at Wichita Falls ISD. The WFISD Virtual Teacher Job Fair continues through April 16 at www.wfisd.net/jobfair.Correctional officers at the Allred UnitDetention officers at the Wichita County JailCleaning and sanitation services staffWork Services Corp. workersU.S. Census workersRegistered nurses, licensed vocational nurses and certified nurse aides at medical employers

“There are some that are pretty much always hiring like health care,” Ball said. “In this area, there’s a shortage of CNAs, LVNs and RNs.”

In fact, Workforce Solutions North Texas has a program to help with training for in-demand career fields such as nursing.

“We actually have 53 occupations that we can send people to school for,” Ball said.

Wichita County sheriff's office deputies Melvin Joyner, left, and Brien Conner, right, recruit at a recent Workforce Solutions North Texas job fair. They are members of the Wichita County Sheriff's Office Community Services Unit. (Photo: Courtesy/Workforce Solutions North Texas)

“Right now, we have a lot of dislocated workers, so if anyone is interested in a career change … we do have a program that we can pay for their school for those that qualify,” she said.

In addition, WSNT provides priority services to veterans looking for work, Ball said.

“We also have some veterans on staff who can assist if there are additional needs,” she said.

Trish Choate, enterprise watchdog reporter for the Times Record News, covers education, courts, breaking news, politics and more. Contact Trish with news tips at tchoate@gannett.com. Her Twitter handle is @Trishapedia

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