What is the Virtual American Job Center, and How Can It Help Me Get a Job?

/ January 19, 2021

By Chris Cannon

Editor’s note: For those of you who may not be familiar with American Job Centers, these centers provide free help to job seekers for a variety of career and employment-related needs. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration funds about 2,400 AJCs across the United States, and Tennessee has more than 85 such centers, with all 95 counties are served by an American Job Center. But the pandemic has curtailed much of the work of the AJCs, as we have sought to keep ourselves safe from COVID-19.  Here’s more information about a new Virtual AJC that the state launched recently that will operate in addition to the in-person AJCs.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development launched the Tennessee Virtual American Job Center in mid-December, bringing information about job services and programs anytime, anywhere to Tennesseans with internet access.

The website guides users to not only the employment assistance available to them but also other services offered by multiple state agencies, such as adult education, college and career services, English language classes, math, reading, and writing classes, and prep classes for high school equivalency diploma tests.

Finding the right job and the right educational opportunities can be overwhelming. The goal of the Virtual American Job Center is to provide users with the information found at more than 85 American Job Centers across Tennessee, no matter the time of day or where the job seeker is located.

“The Virtual AJC makes it convenient for people to learn about the different programs that can have a meaningful impact on their lives,” said Jeff McCord, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “In short, the Virtual AJC extends the reach of Tennessee’s American Job Center network.”

The Virtual AJC provides detailed information about such programs as job planning, which includes helping job seekers define and achieve their career goals through career counseling; providing internship and work experience assistance, supplying job market information, job search assistance, resume building, preparing for interviews. It also offers information on education services, skills sharpening and training, youth services and work-life support, which aims to help individuals get to and stay in their job or school program. These services are intended to help you remove the barriers in your personal life that make it hard to be successful in your career and education. Some examples are assistance with school supplies, childcare services, housing assistance, and transportation assistance to name a few.

When someone goes to the website, either on their desktop computer or their mobile device, they can explore a list of services and programs that have the potential to improve their employment situation or provide financial assistance that will help them join the state’s workforce. Each program page contains information on eligibility requirements, reviews documents needed to apply, and provides the next steps to take to participate in the program.If someone is unsure of which services could be most beneficial to them, the Virtual AJC offers an interactive tool to navigate the different programs. The tool is accessible, as the website meets all standard ADA requirements for accessible design. It is screen reader friendly and is fully translatable into most languages, thanks to Google Translate.

The tool, the Service Matcher, asks the job seeker a short series of questions to determine what assistance is available to the person. The Service Matcher then will generate a list of programs and services the job seeker is eligible for based on their answers from the previous questions. It then creates a QR code unique to that job seeker that contains all the information needed to start their AJC journey.  The QR code can be emailed or texted to them for future reference and to share with a local AJC staff member. If they bring the QR code with them for an appointment at an AJC, a staff member can scan the QR code and see the list. This allows more time for meaningful counseling since the basic questions have already been answered by the individual.

On the same website page, the job seeker can then make an appointment to meet with a career specialist in their area virtually, over the phone, or at the nearest American Job Center.

The Tennessee Virtual American Job Center is located at TNVirtualAJC.com. Job seekers can visit the website, and once they find the information they are looking for, they can take the next steps needed to improve their employment situation and their future.

My thanks to Sylvia McDonald, who is the strategic improvement director with the Workforce Services Division of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. She and her team have been leading the Virtual AJC initiative, and she connected me with Chris Cannon. And I want to thank Chris for sharing this information with us. If any of you readers have sought assistance at an American Job Center or if you have already used the Virtual American Job Center to help you in your job search, I would very much like to hear about your experience. As many of you know, so much of what I learn I learn from listening to people with disabilities and their families and hearing about their lived experiences. And as always, if you have questions about this topic or others, please email me at janet.shouse@vumc.org.

Chris Cannon smilingChris Cannon, Chris Cannon is the assistant administrator of communications for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Cannon started working for the state of Tennessee in January 2016 after 20 years as a television news anchor and reporter. At the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Cannon oversees the agency’s external and internal communications. This includes media relations, social media, website, and video production.

January 19, 2021

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