Northern Kentucky WIB and KCC response
In cooperation with the Cabinet for Education and Workforce, in the past 2 ½ weeks, the Northern Kentucky workforce ecosystem has undergone a major redesign in order to address the needs of local employers and dislocated workers impacted by the COVID-19 state of emergency. With guidance and support from the NKY Workforce Investment Board staff, the Kentucky Career Center has made the following changes to best serve Northern Kentuckians needing workforce development services while also focusing on the health and safety of our clients and staff:
- Offering services via phone, email, website chat, and video conference.
- Began a series of meet the employer events via Facebook Live, highlighting individual employers and their open positions, starting April 1 with Tyson Foods
- Adding “featured jobs” to Career Center website daily in conjunction with local employers.
- Offering webinars for employers on how to continue to hire and maintain basic operations while practicing social distancing.
- Working with the NKY Chamber to convey information from the Cabinet for Education and Workforce on Unemployment Insurance to the business community.
- Discover KCC (orientation to KY Career Center services for employers) is going digital:
- Traditionally, Discover KCC events are held in person at the Career Center in Covington quarterly, but now this same event will be offered via Zoom Video Conferencing, which we expect may result in even more employers participating due to the convenience factor
- Transitioned from in-person services to 100% virtual services, as of March 18th
- Currently assisting nearly 2,000 Northern Kentuckians weekly, by phone or email, the vast majority needing assistance with Unemployment Insurance as a result of the COVID-19-related business closures.
- Created three new webpages on nkcareercenter.org to provide current information:
- COVID-19 related operational updates for clients and local stakeholders
- Unemployment Insurance updates for employers and dislocated workers
- Job Search Marketplace featuring some of the many open positions, updated daily
- Individuals are encouraged to email to request assistance with their job search, resume development and general career coaching
- Partnering with the Kenton County Public Library to offer a virtual workshop for job seekers.
- Increasing utilization of tools such as Zoom Video Conferencing in order to enhance communication with our customers
- Hosting an Elevator Pitch Power Hour, via Zoom Video Conferencing, to help job seekers develop their personal brand and be able to effectively communicate their skills and abilitie
- Established a weekly Thursday Facebook Live event highlighting individual employers and their open positions.
- Made WIOA-funded staff available to assist with Unemployment Insurance calls.
U.S. and Kentucky Unemployment Rates
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that March 2020 had the highest single increase in unemployment claims nationwide since January 1975. Since March 16, 2020, in Kentucky, more than 170,000 claims have received payments for Unemployment Insurance (UI) totaling $90M. The Commonwealth reports an 85% “on-time” payment rate, which is higher than the average.
Individuals with questions can call our local Covington number at 859-292-6666 to speak to someone about their claim, in order to reduce the load on the state number. Help is also available at https://nkcareercenter.org and https://KCC.ky.gov. Anyone attempting to reach out for assistance should be patient and persistent as call capacity for the staff continues to increase.
Small businesses and employers with questions can call the main number 859-292-6666 or go to https://workforce.ky.gov.
Addressing Call Line Capacity Issues
The Cabinet is in the midst of gearing up their employees, their main number is receiving 125,000 – 150,000 calls per day. Typically, Kentucky’s UI call center staffs about 12 people, but the existing infrastructure has been inundated by the additional demand. Currently they are staffing up to work with five different call centers, state staff typically in other departments, and local WIOA-funded staff, including members of our NKWIB Direct Service Provider team from Brighton Center. With nearly all staff working remotely, the state has implemented AmazonConnect to allow everyone working on the call line to answer calls from anywhere. Cabinet leadership has estimated that the highest level of demand may soon begin to wane as layoffs level out, however, they also estimate that more than 20,000 people who have lost their jobs have not yet been able to call in, due to the high call volume.
Multiple Unemployment programs available during COVID-19 emergency
Help for those small business owners and others with limited work history who don’t qualify for standard Unemployment Insurance has come in the form of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Unfortunately, until April 1, the system was automatically sending anyone who didn’t qualify for UI an automatic written response. Those auto-generated letters have now ceased. If someone receives notice they are not eligible for UI, their application will be shared automatically with PUA for processing, and they should receive notice of approval for PUA if they meet those criteria.